Don’t imagine that other people always play fair. Look out for yourself. Knowing your legal rights can make all the difference in the world. Here is our take on some essential rights and remedies that can save you money and put you back where you belong – in control.
Credit Repair and FCRA Reporting Limits
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the law that stipulates the amount of time derogatory information can remain on your credit report. Most people attempting credit report repair are aware that most derogatory information can report for up to seven years. This is easy to calculate for a simple item like a late payment. If you were 30 days late on a credit card payment in January of 2001 the late payment can continue to report until January of 2008.
Credit Repair and Modified Reporting Limits
The FCRA offers a different approach to calculating the reporting period for charged off accounts and collections. If you are in a credit repair program and trying to calculate drop-off dates you need this information. Rather than limiting the reporting period to seven years for these two events, the FCRA instructs the credit bureaus to count seven years plus 180 days from the original default date. And there are good reasons…
Charge Off Reporting Limits
A charged off account is unique inasmuch as it is not an isolated event but rather the outcome of an earlier default. The seven year plus 180 day rule creates a measurable start date for reporting period calculations. So, if you were 30 days late on a credit card payment in January of 2001 and never made another payment, the last date derogatory information can show on your credit report is June of 2008. This is the case regardless of when the creditor charged off the account.
Collection Reporting Limits
Reporting periods for collections are counted in the same way, but for different reasons. Collectors live in a world of their own, buying and selling collection accounts with a surprising frequency. There are many reasons for this behavior; the chief reason being that as soon as a collector determines a debt is uncollectable the only value it has is as a salable commodity. Because collections change hands so often people attempting credit repair are often confused about reporting period limits.
Reporting Periods Cannot be Reset
The reporting period for a collection begins with the original default date on the original debt and ends 180 days plus seven years later. And nothing can reset it. The FCRA is clear that nothing can reset the reporting period including the sale of debt, payments made to a collector during the life of the debt, or any disputes about the account made to creditor, collector, or credit bureau. But don’t confuse the reporting period limits with Statute of Limitations on collectability…
Reporting Period Vs Statue of Limitation
Understanding SOL rules will allow you to exercise several powerful credit repair possibilities. The Statue of Limitation (SOL) on a debt is the length of time it can be collected through the courts, and varies from state to state. You can easily find your state SOL on the internet. Of interest to anyone in a credit repair program, the expiration of an SOL will not stop collectors from attempting to collect. Collectors are well aware that most people have no concept of SOL and are happy to take advantage.
Don’t Ignore a Summons
Aside from basic collection efforts like phone calls and letters, collectors will often attempt to obtain a judgment after the expiration of the SOL. You may be surprised to hear that they often succeed. If you get sued by a collector beyond the SOL you must file a response with the court within the time allowed in the summons. If you do not respond the collector will prevail in spite of the expired SOL. You must positively affirm your SOL defense! Credit repair requires action.
Collections beyond the Statute of Limitation
If you get a collection letter check the SOL. If the debt is beyond the SOL you have several fantastic options. If you want the collector to leave you alone, just send a Cease Communication Letter demanding they stop all attempts to contact you. Once they get the letter there is nothing further they can do. Here’s a great credit repair tip. If you want to pay the debt you have a major edge in negotiating a payoff. Just make it clear to the collector that you are aware of the SOL and they should be happy to settle. Try calling the last week of the month. You may even be able to negotiate to have the collection removed altogether from your credit report. That’s credit repair gold.
Credit Repair and Cease Communication Vs Debt Validation
Be careful about using a Cease Communication Letter on debt that is within the SOL. You might push them into legal action. If you get a collection letter on a debt that is still within the SOL send a Debt Validation Letter instead. It’s a great credit repair tool; the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires collectors to provide proof of their legal right to collect as well as an accounting from the original creditor of the amount claimed. You have 30 days exercise your rights. If they respond you will have peace of mind knowing they own the debt and the amount is correct. But there is a fair possibility that the collector will not be able to furnish the proof you have requested. If that is the case you will not hear from them again and they will have to stop reporting. Not a bad outcome either!
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