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Delinquent Account

How do I determine the date of first delinquency on a delinquent account?

I have an old credit card account that has been charged-off and sent to collections a long time ago. The last payment I ever made on this account was to the original creditor. I am trying to find out when my last payment was made. Who would have that information? When I try to call the credit card company, they only give me the number to the collection agency and will not answer my question. I doubt the collection agency will have the information I am looking for since my last payment was not made to them. Does the credit card company have to provide me with this information, or is there another way I can get it? My credit report is not very specific on when my account first went overdue and I really need the exact date of last payment.

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Updated: Oct 20, 2014

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The exact date of last payment on your delinquent account can be inferred from the date of first delinquency. You can learn the date of first delinquency by reviewing your credit reports.

Take these steps: First, go to AnnualCreditReport.com and get no-cost, no-gimmick copies of your credit reports from each of the big three credit reporting agencies. Second, with your credit report in hand, locate the account in question. The "date of first delinquency" should be reported on each of the three reports for this account. Third, subtract 30 days from the date of first delinquency, which will be the approximate date of your last payment.

Derogatory Items on Credit Report

Federal law (US Code Title 15, §1681c) controls the behavior of credit reporting agencies (CRAs). The specific law is called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under FCRA §605 (a) and (b), an account in collection will appear on a consumer’s credit report for up to 7½ years. To determine when an account will be removed by the CRAs (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian and others), add 7 years to the date of first delinquency. The date of first delinquency is shown in credit reports. Subsequent activity, such as resolving the debt or one debt collector selling the debt to another collector, is irrelevant to the 7-year rule.

Some debts have a reporting period longer than 7 years, including:

  • Tax liens: 10 years if unpaid, or 7 years from the payment date
  • Bankruptcy: 10 years from the date of filing (15 U.S.C. §1681c)
  • Perkins student loans: Until paid in full (20 U.S.C. §1087cc(c)(3))
  • Direct and FFEL loans: 7 years from default or rehabilitation date (20 U.S.C. §1080a(f)(1) and 20 U.S.C. §1087e(a)(1))
  • Judgments: 7 years or the debtor’s state statute of limitations on judgments, whichever is longer

The FCRA 7-year rule is separate from state statutes of limitations for debt issues.

Just because a debt is removed from a credit report does not mean the statute of limitations for receiving a judgment to collect the debt has passed. Federal credit report laws and a state statute of limitations laws are separate and independent from each other. The seven years starts running from the date of first delinquency, which generally means seven and a half years from the date of last payment. Review your credit report carefully to make sure the date of first delinquency on these accounts are correct.

Credit Score

As your question involves a credit score, let me give you some information on how a credit score is calculated. Your credit rating is calculated based on several variables, including:

Payment History

Payment history counts for approximately 35% of your score and is the most heavily weighted factor used in calculating your credit score. Consistently paying your bills on time has a positive influence on your score, while late or missed payments will hurt you in this area. If you have delinquent payments, the older the delinquency the less the negative impact on your score will be. Collection accounts and bankruptcy filings are also taken into consideration when analyzing your payment history.

Total Debt and Total Available Credit

This counts for about 30% and weighs how much debt you have compared to the total available credit on your accounts. If all of your accounts are maxed out, you will be considered a poor credit risk, because it appears that you are struggling to pay off the debt you have already incurred. If your account balances are relatively low compared to your available credit, this part of the risk analysis should help your overall credit score.

The score calculation also looks at these two factors independently. Having too much available credit, whether you have used it or not, could hurt your credit score, as statistical studies have shown that people with excessive amounts of available credit are a higher credit risk. Unfortunately, the bureaus do not define exactly what they consider excessive, so best tip is to use credit conservatively and to keep your debt to credit limit ratio low.

Length of Positive Credit History

This counts for about 15%. The longer you maintain accounts in good standing, the better your score will be. This shows that you are able to make a long-term commitment to a creditor and are consistently responsible about making your payments. If you have accounts with long history (5 or more years) and no missed payments, you should keep these open and paid off.

Mix of Types of Credit

This counts for approximately 10%. Having several different types of credit, such a credit cards, consumer loans, and secured debt, will have a positive influence on your credit score. Having too much of one type of credit can have a negative impact.

The Number of New Credit Applications you Have Recently Completed

This accounts for about 10% of your score. Applying for too much new credit in a short time period makes indicates that you could be credit risk, as you may be desperately trying to keep your head above water. The models make an exception for people who are shopping around for a loan, so if you are simply applying to see who can give you the best rate on a new loan, you need not worry too much about damaging your credit score.

How to Improve a Credit Score

Here are four steps to improve your credit score:

1. Pay off all debts and keep revolving lines below 25% utilization. Do not "max out" any loans or cards.

2. Diversify you credit portfolio. If, for example, you have only a Visa, MasterCard, or Discover card, get a department store credit card or card from a gasoline retailer. Make your payments every month. Leave a small balance every once in a while to show that you are able to handle debt on more than one account.

3. Keep your oldest credit account active. Remember "Length of positive credit history" discussed above.

4. Pull your credit report and contest any inaccurate information so that it can be corrected by the credit bureaus. Go to the Bills.com debt self-help center for sample dispute letters. The credit bureaus must follow the rules set forth by Congress in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

If you would like to learn more about credit reports, credit scoring, and what it means to you, I encourage you to explore the wealth of material offered by the Bills.com credit information page.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.

Best,

Bill