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Credit 101- (very) basic introduction


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#1 radi8

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 12:01 AM

Welcome to Creditboards!
We're glad you found us and hope that you'll find this a useful resource for dealing with credit and collections.
If you have not already done so, please familiarize yourself with our terms of service, here:
http://creditboards.com/terms.php

Please take the time to read the introductory material, you'll find many of your questions answered here.
You may also find useful information by using the "search" function.

Feel free to join in the discussion!
It's a great place to find answers to your questions, support with your problems and general friendly discussion.
C'mon in, you are invited to join us! :)








So you're new to credit reporting and don't know where to start?

The following is a (very) basic introduction. You have many more legal rights and avenues than can possibly be listed here, so be sure to
read through the posts, use the "search" function for topics that interest you, and feel free to ask questions when needed!
You will find many people willing to help you along the way, so don't be shy....post away :)




Well, here I am......where do I start?
Before doing anything else, you must know where you are, and what you have to work with. The very first step is obtaining current copies of all 3 of your credit reports. The information contained in your report changes, sometimes frequently. A current copy is the best place to begin.
Each Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) maintains its own, seperate database, and the information on each report is often different. Please plan on getting all 3 reports.

Here's how to get your report:
1) If you have been denied credit, insurance or employment, you should have received a "notice of adverse action". This will spell out how to get a free copy of the report used in the decision. Note that this will not get you copies of the other two reports.
2) Call, Write or Visit the website of the CRA's . The contact information changes occasionally, and is most current in our "databases" section.
Some states allow for a free report every so often, others require a small fee, around $8.00 or so.
3) Sign up for one of the credit monitoring services. Several allow for a free trial. Please pay attention to how many "new" reports can be pulled when you join. Some allow a new report daily, others only 4X per year. You can always ask for opinions in the credit forum before comitting yourself to a membership.

If you are married, your reports are still seperate. There may be "joint" accounts common to both reports, and your spouses' name may be noted on your report, but otherwise your report is yours alone. Changing an item on yours does not affect your spouses.



Ok, I have my report(s). Now what???

Now to try to understand what is being reported!

You report is divided into several sections:
1) Personal Information.
This section contains your name, address, employer, date of birth, Social Security number, spouses' name. Several variations of each may be listed, along with former addresses and names.
This information is supplied both by creditors, and by you when you fill out a credit application.

2) Public Records.
Bankrupcies, liens, judgements, garnishments, felony convictions may all be listed here. Anything that is a public court record is fair game.

3) Credit history;
Loans, leases, mortgages, credit cards, collection accounts will be listed here. Also listed is your payment history, and various details about each account.

4) Inquiries.
This is a listing of everyone who has "pulled" a copy of your report.
Often divided into two sections, "hard" and "soft".
"Hard" inquiries are a result of you applying for something, or a current creditor looking at your report. These are the inquiries that lenders can see.
"soft" inquiries are only viewable by you, and are commonly the result of you pulling your own report, or marketing inquiries.



Now, each section in more detail:

1) Personal information.
Perhaps the first thing to attack is all of the old addresses and name variations. These serve no positive purpose on your report. If this information is needed by a creditor, you can supply it on an as-needed basis. These items can be removed by calling or writing the CRA, and asking for their removal, as they are "not accurate".

2) Public Records.
Review this information carefully. It often passes through many hands between the courthouse and CRA, and is prone to errors. Information here can be disputed just like anything else on your report. Be cautious of sending in documentation in an effort to "correct" your report. You may find that you have inadvertently verified information by your own submission, making it's dispute nearly impossible later.

3) Credit Information.
The important details here are-
Date of Last Activity. This is the date that is used to start the 7-year reporting clock.
Date Last Reported This is the last date that the creditor supplied an update to the CRA. It has no bearing on reporting period or SOL computation.
Account Type: R= "revolving" I="installment"
followed by payment history:
0 Too new to rate
1 Pays account as agreed
2 Not more than two payments past due
3 Not more than three payments past due
4 Not more than four payments past due
5 At least 120 days or more than for payments past due
7 Making regular payments under W.E.P (wage earner plan)
8 Repossession
9 Bad Debt; placed for collection; skip

Limit/Original Amount:
For installment loans, the amount of the loan at it's inception.
For revolving accounts, your credit limit. This is used to compute your credit utilization %, an inaccurate low limit will lower your score.

Balance:
The amount owed as of the date reported.

Open/Closed:
Whether an account is open, active, and availaible for your use, or
closed and no longer usable.
Closed by Consumer indicates that the account was closed at your request. Neither positive or negative.
Closed By Credit Grantor indicates that the acount was closed by the creditor, often involuntarily. This is nearly always seen as a negative.


4) Inquiries:
Listed by date, this is a list of who has pulled your report.
There are specific reasons which must be met before anyone can pull your report. "Permissable Purpose" referrs to the legal requirements for anyone to do so. Generally, you must:
1) Apply for something, like credit or insurance.
2) Have a current, open account with the creditor.
3) Have otherwise given your permission for the report to be pulled.

Companies or individuals pulling your report without "permissable Purpose" are violating Federal Law, and subject to fines of $1,000, more in certain states.



How long do items remain on the report?

Bankruptcies remain 10 years from the date discharged.
Other negative items remain no longer than 7 years from the date of first delinquency.
Positive items can remain indefinitely, but no less than 10 years.
Inquiries remain for 2 years, with those in the last 6 months usually given the most consideration.




Credit Scoring

Often, a Credit Score is provided with your report, or available for an extra charge.
There are 2 types of scores.
FICO score, sometimes referred to as "Beacon" is the industry standard, and the only score that carries any real value. It is calculated by the Fair Isaac Company using the data contained on your report.

CRA-Specific scores are scores provided by the CRA's themselves,
using their own credit-scoring formula. These scores are referred to as:
"TransUnion score", "Experian Credit Expert" score, "CreditXpert".
These are of varying accuracy, and should never be relied on for an accurate indication. Only the true FICO score will be used by potential creditors. It is not unusual for these CRA-specific scores to differ from your FICO score by 100 points or better in certain circumstances.

Experian does not make FICO scores available to the comsumer. The only way to get this from Experian is to look at one pulled by a mortgage broker, or other financial professional. The Score provided the consumer by Experian is proprietary, but can provide a useful benchmark.
*Update* Experian Fico scores are now available through www.myfico.com






Ok, I understand what is being reported.
But these accounts are not accurate, not mine, and I never heard of half of them!

Head to the Database section, and find the links to the FCRA ( Fair Credit Reporting Act) and FDCPA ( Fair Debt Collection Act).
http://www.creditboa...wtopic.php?t=34
These are the laws that apply to credit reporting and debt collection.
You have specific rights regarding both. Understanding your rights is basic to moving forward. Read and re-read until you are familiar with these laws. Post questions as necessary for clarification.

You have the right to dispute any information contained on your credit report. This is done by writing the CRA, or using the dispute form on their website. The CRA then is required to verify that information with the furnisher. They have 30 days by law to do so.
If such information cannot be verified, it must be deleted.
Note that whether the account is "really" yours or not has no bearing on their responsibility to verify it. If it cannot be verifed, it must be deleted. Period.

You also have the right to "validation". This is demanding that the creditor reporting the information prove to you that the account is really your responsibility, and that the balances, etc are accurate. In the case of collection agencies, they must also prove that they have legal right to collect the debt. They must STOP all collection activity, including reporting and verifying, until they supply proper validation to you after a written request. Although no time limit is specified for them to validate, they cannot continue collection activities until they provide such. Sometimes, Collection Agencies will stop collection activities and return the account to the original creditor rather than validate. (This is perfectly legal )

*You do NOT have legal right to validation under the FDCPA when dealing with an original creditor. They may supply validation at their option, but are not required to do so. However, you do have the right under the FCRA to dispute directly with an original creditor any information reported that you feel is incorrect. This can be found in section 623. Once they have received your dispute, they must investigate the reported info and, they must also report the acct as disputed with the cra's.
You may also have additional rights under the FCBA (Fair Credit Billing Act), and possibly your state's laws.

If you demand validation from a creditor who is already listing a derogatory tradeline on your credit report, they are required to note that account as "disputed by consumer" ( or similar language). They may NOT place a new listing, or verify a current listing with the CRA until they have provided you with validation.

It is most always a good idea to send validation demands via CMRRR.
(Certified Mail Return Recipt Requested) as this gives you proof, in the form of a recipt ("green card") that your demand was received, and on what date.


Sample Validation letters here



Back to disputing with the Credit Bureaus;
It's never appropriate to make Misstatements to a CRA (or anyone else).
There are ways to accomplish your goals while remaining 100% truthful and honest- it's the best way to go.
For example, while it may be tempting to dispute a known account as "not mine", it's a better option to instead make a request that it's validity be proven.
"Please provide documentation that this account is accurate and belongs on my report".

Also be very careful in what information you supply to the CRA's. If you supply court papers, or collection statements in an attempt to correct your report, you may find those very papers used against you later! You will have difficulty questioning an account that you proviously verified yourself.

Here's a simple "not mine" dispute letter to the CRA's:


--------------------------
Credit Reporting Agency
12345 XXXXX street
Wherever, USA


Dear Credit Reporting Agency,

Please delete the following account from my credit report, as it is not mine:

Account Name, Account #######

Your Name,
Your Address
Your report or confirmation number if availaible.
--------------------------------



And one that instead makes a request that an account be proven:

--------------------------
Credit Reporting Agency
12345 XXXXX street
Wherever, USA


Dear Credit Reporting Agency,

Please provide evidence that the following account belongs on my report and that my rights have not been abrogated.
In the event that none exists, please delete this damaging account.

Account Name, Account #######

Your Name,
Your Address
Your report or confirmation number if availaible.
--------------------------------


They have 30 days to verify their information, correct the information or delete the account. You will be provided with the results of their investigation and a new copy of your report ( if anything has changed) after the investigation is complete.



Sheesh. I've read all that and I'm still lost.
Where do I start?


Here's a post that may give you some basic direction:
http://creditboards....t=0#entry561015


An excellent overview with links to all the basic information and must reads:
http://creditboards....showtopic=14797



What is "B", you ask?
http://creditboards....showtopic=28389




General glossary:
http://creditboards....hp?showtopic=32


Letters? Yeah, we love those! Here's some samples used for various purposes:
http://creditboards....hp?showforum=18

Note: Generally, it's best to modify letters to suit your situation. CA's/Cra's get these "form" letters by the dozens.
Read over several samples that suit your purpose and use them as a template to write your own.


PsychDoc's excellent seminars- For beginners on up. This is a must-read series.
http://creditboards....howtopic=142032





Well, there, you've made it through the introduction.
Grab your reports and jump on in!





**Nothing in this post, or this forum is intended as legal advice.
Should you require legal advice, please contact a qualified attorney**



#2 humblemarc

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 12:07 AM

Head to the Database section, and find the links to the FCRA ( Fair Credit Reporting Act) and FDCPA ( Fair Debt Collection Act).
These are the laws that apply to credit reporting and debt collection.
You have specific rights regarding both. Understanding your rights is basic to moving forward. Read and re-read until you are familiar with these laws. Post questions as necessary for clarification.

OK, this is so important i thought it needed to be pointed out twice, as most of the techniques used on this board or any credit board, for that matter, depend on these two Acts.
As radi8 eloquently said, reading them is NOT enough. One must understand them. The only person that it hurts when you don't understand them is yourself.

#3 PsychDoc

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 10:51 AM

Super job!

Doc

#4 Creditman

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Posted 25 April 2003 - 10:04 AM

That's the bible. Live by it......

#5 humblemarc

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Posted 28 April 2003 - 08:22 PM

i see this popping up again. . .

CRAs "verify", they don't "validate".
CAs "validate" they don't "verify"

It's an important difference and confusing the two in reading or writing a thread could lead to sending the agency the wrong type of letter.

Please be careful . .

#6 Alex

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 01:59 PM

Here are a few links:

Big three CRA's:

http://www.equifax.com

http://www.transunion.com

http://www.experian.com

FAQ's:

http://www.creditboa...wtopic.php?t=32

http://www.creditboa...s/fdcpaART1.php

http://a1248.svwh.net/BoardFAQ.htm

http://consumers.cre...4944#post324944

http://consumers.cre...4943#post324943

Sample letters:

http://consumers.cre...p?s=&forumid=25

http://groups.yahoo....itnetters/files

FICO scoring:
http://www.myfico.co...equestOffer.asp

http://www.myfico.co...reConsiders.asp

Credit scoring in general:

http://www.ftc.gov/b...dit/scoring.htm

Secured cards:

http://www.cardoffer...ategory=Secured

http://www.cardweb.c...ys/secured.html

#7 Alex

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Posted 18 May 2003 - 02:09 PM

Ways to locate addresses and information on companies:


Better Business Bureau:
One way to locate a company and to check out their customer service record.
http://www.bbb.org

On line national yellow pages:
http://www.yellowpages.com

The Consumer Action Website:
courtesy of PsychDoc:

http://www.pueblo.gs...crh/corpora.htm


Find the address of any corporation in the US & Canada. Enter the name, click on the stock symbol, click on profile:
http://finance.yahoo.com/l

Extended zip code finder:
http://www.usps.com/...okup_zip+4.html


Public Internet places to complain about a company:


Planet Feedback:
http://www.planetfeedback.com/consumer

E-Pinions:
http://www.epinions.com

The Complaint Station:
http://www.thecomplaintstation.com

Complaints:
http://www.complaints.com

Places to complain about a company with the government:

State Attorney General's offices:
http://www.thecompla...teattorneys.htm

Comptroller of the Currency. For National (NA) bank complaints only:
http://www.occ.treas.gov/customer.htm

#8 humblemarc

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 03:52 AM

My response to someone who wanted their credit clean in 3 months. . .

--------------------

I can tell you for a fact that one can get their reports clean in 3 to 4 months. But there's one catch. You have to read and study every thread (esp. the old ones). . .every day, cause you never know when 1 thread that "doesn't apply to you" makes everything "click" into place .. . . and not let frustration and impatience get the best of you.

As far as credit repair companies go. they will never be able to write a validation letter, nutcase letter, intent to sue letter, or contact the "special contacts" at the CRAs, etc. that are essential to repairing your report as quickly as possible.

Most importantly, (and this applies to anyone), if you want your credit cleaned up as quickly as possible, you need to make these forums your new obsession/passion. Your "learning curve" is in direct proportion to how much time you spend reading and researching every day. i found in my obsession/passion for credit repair, i didn't have time to feel sorry for myself or get frustrated because i was too busy learning/researching what i didn't know. (only after i finished cleaning my and others reports did i have time to get frustrated and dejected )

also remember, all of us have the exact same amount of time as anyone else in the world---24 hrs each day. so it's up to you, what you priortize your time with. if buying a house in 3 months is your goal, it can be done(i know because i cleaned my reports it in 3 months). It just depends on how important that goal is, in relationship to other things in your life. it's up to you whether that goal gets accomplished according to your time frame or not.

Ask questions, no matter how "stupid" they may sound to you, but also read everything you can, because many questions that have been asked on these boards, have been answered before, and often to a greater degree and clarity than the answer you may recieve now.

And remember, no matter how upset and frustrated you may get at the process, the only thing that can prevent you from succeeding is forgetting your goals and giving up. . .

#9 Susan

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 11:22 AM

humblemarc: Thanks for that post. I have just started about 3 weeks ago to try and clean up my credit report and was up until 3am last night reading the posts here and researching info. It's amazing what you can do on your own with the help of you and the people on this board! I think the most humbling thing is that there really are good people out there that will take the time to help someone for nothing. All of the regulars here are more than willing to take time out of their 24 hour day to answer any question that is posted. And there are many people that benefit from all the knowledge on this board. Some post thank yous and some just lurk! I have been lurking for the past three weeks more like reading soooooo much and trying to decide which way to approach my credit clean up justing using the suggestions on this board. I just thought I'd say thanks to all of the regulars for all of the helpful information.

Susan

#10 breeze

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 11:40 AM

Hi Susan, welcome to the board! Glad you decided to join us!

#11 Alex

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 07:13 PM

Credit Terms:

CMRRR = Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested

CRA = Credit Reporting Agency

CA = Collection Agency

OC = Original Creditor

CR = Credit Report

EQ = Equifax

TU = Trans Union

EX = Experian

BBB = Better Business Bureau

CL = Credit Line

ITS = Intent To Sue

CH = chapter

BK = bankruptcy

IIB = Included In Bankruptcy

FTC = Federal Trade Commission

FCRA = Fair Credit Reporting Act

FCBA = Fair Credit Billing Act

DW = Dear Wife

DH = Dear Husband

IMHO = In My Humble Opinion

#12 ToddieM

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Posted 30 May 2003 - 07:45 PM

Dear "those in the know",
I see, I read, and I do APPRECIATE your postings. I've struggled along now for three years trying to up my credit, and I still havent passed the magic zenith of 720.
I feel confident that after doing my due diligence here, I will make it. I need to get there by 9-1-2003. That is when I'll be in the market for another car.

Kudoes all!

#13 breeze

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Posted 31 May 2003 - 01:44 AM

Welcome to the board! Make yourself at home, dig in, and feel free to ask questions!

#14 LKH

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Posted 31 May 2003 - 09:33 AM

Dear "those in the know",
I see, I read, and I do APPRECIATE your postings. I've struggled along now for three years trying to up my credit, and I still havent passed the magic zenith of 720.
I feel confident that after doing my due diligence here, I will make it. I need to get there by 9-1-2003. That is when I'll be in the market for another car.

Kudoes all!


I'm curious as to why you think you need to be at 720 or above to buy a new car. From what I've seen and been told, anything over a 680 is going to get you the best rates. Even if you want to play it safe, a 700 should get you the best rates.

#15 ToddieM

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Posted 31 May 2003 - 02:44 PM

:roll: YOu're absolutely right, LKH, seems like I was told the same by a car dealer once.
It's just that, if I'm gonna do this, might as well do it right, and reach the promised land of 720+

#16 Alex

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Posted 01 July 2003 - 10:43 PM

Posted Image
As a general rule: NEVER DISPUTE ANYTHING ABOUT CLOSED ACCOUNTS THAT ARE BEING REPORTED AS A POSITIVE UNTIL ALL NEGATIVE ACCOUNTS ARE GONE.

You run the risk of having the account deleted by the CRA!

ALSO, DON'T CLOSE, OPEN OR INACTIVE POSITIVE ACCOUNTS.

Fair Isaac says that closing open accounts is NEVER a score builder!

#17 Andreas

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Posted 18 August 2003 - 05:52 PM

:D Thanks for this beginners guide to credit repair. I am post-chapter 7 almost 1 year, and I am beginning this quest. I have a couple of questions:

You have the right to dispute any information contained on your credit report.
...
You also have the right to " validation ". This is demanding that the creditor reporting the information prove to you that the account is really your responsibility, and that the balances, etc are accurate. In the case of collection agencies, they must also prove that they have legal right to collect the debt. They must STOP all collection activity, including reporting and verifying, until they supply proper validation to you after a written request. Although no time limit is specified for them to validate, they cannot continue collection activities until they provide such.


I have submitted my disputes to all 3 CRA. Here it is 30 days later, and a few creditors list accounts as 'Remains' to the CRA, when I have the proof that this (TL) is incorrect? Should I pursue 'validation' from the creditor as my next step, even though this is a clear violation on their part?

What I would much rather do is send the offending OC or CA a letter (CMRRR)demanding that they remove the negative altogether in lieu of monetary damages (I read the FCRA - between $200 and $1000?). Is this possible?

BTW - I noticed that a couple of the negative TL's were deleted due to lack of response. WOOHOO!!

#18 Alex

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Posted 19 August 2003 - 10:31 PM

What you might want to do next is to complex to determine from what you have posted. I would respectfully suggest that you post in the main credit forum what you want to ask. :wink:

#19 Andreas

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Posted 20 August 2003 - 01:55 PM

Thanks, Eric. Ironically, I have learned so much in the past couple of days by reading the informative (and sometimes entertaining) posts between you and Sassy. I have found references to court cases, sample letters, real experiences, advise, etc. I guess the best place to start learning in this forum is with a couple of caffe lattes and about 10 hours of free-time to read, read and read!

8) Thanks!

#20 ncogngro

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Posted 31 August 2003 - 10:14 PM

I have been an active/inactive member of creditnet for approx 1yr. I had recently requested my credit union to release my security deposit for my credit card and they denied my request. Had the acct for almost 2yrs and they still won't make me unsecured. That "pissed" me off and now I found this forum and this has now become my life to get my credit back in order. Thanx for the this.

#21 Alex

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Posted 01 September 2003 - 04:43 PM

Welcome aboard.Posted Image

Read:

Two links of credit scoring:
http://www.myfico.co...ooklet_2002.pdf

http://www.myfico.co...reConsiders.asp

General FAQ's:
http://www.creditboa...opic.php?t=1925

http://www.creditboa...opic.php?t=2070

#22 Alex

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Posted 05 September 2003 - 10:17 AM

Abbreviations link courtesy of Andreas:

http://www.creditboa...ighlight=#69005

#23 keb

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 02:13 PM

Regarding the original post, one correction and one "I think this is wrong":

1. BKs should drop off 10 years after date of FILING, not date of discharge. By CRA agreement, discharged (but not dismissed) C13s should drop off 7 years after date of FILING.

2. I do not believe that the DOLA is necessarily the date that starts the 7 year reporting period, particularly for chargeoffs/writeoffs/etc. Particularly for the latter, the start date is "180 days following the onset of final delinquency", which is hardly an obvious date on the reports. I do not believe that there is any date on any of the 3 major CRA reports which either definitively shows the start of the reporting period, or from which one can definitively calculate the end of the reporting period. That's a secret date that they hide from us, which sucks, but that's the way it (currently) is. You can sort of assume that the DOLA starts it for working purposes, but don't bet on it.

#24 radi8

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 02:04 AM

2. I do not believe that the DOLA is necessarily the date that starts the 7 year reporting period, particularly for chargeoffs/writeoffs/etc. Particularly for the latter, the start date is "180 days following the onset of final delinquency", which is hardly an obvious date on the reports. I do not believe that there is any date on any of the 3 major CRA reports which either definitively shows the start of the reporting period, or from which one can definitively calculate the end of the reporting period. That's a secret date that they hide from us, which sucks, but that's the way it (currently) is. You can sort of assume that the DOLA starts it for working purposes, but don't bet on it.



Here's the actual quote fro the FCRA:

© Running of reporting period.

(1) In general. The 7-year period referred to in paragraphs (4) and (6)(2) of subsection (a) shall begin, with respect to any delinquent account that is placed for collection (internally or by referral to a third party, whichever is earlier), charged to profit and loss, or subjected to any similar action, upon the expiration of the 180-day period beginning on the date of the commencement of the delinquency which immediately preceded the collection activity, charge to profit and loss, or similar action.


So, you are correct in that it may not always be the DOLA.

Example, if the account is delinquent, and you make a payment, but not enough to bring it current, the delinquency start date remains the same,
the reporting period doesn't change. But the DOLA has been reset by the payment.

#25 Number 5

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Posted 17 November 2003 - 07:03 PM

hey there, this is the first time ever that I have written in a forum. I made one spectacular mistake after another when buying a property 2 yeaars ago. after listening to incorrect advice, not asking the appropriate questions, I allowed the house to be short sold after not paying the mortgage for 10 months which I was adviised to do. I used to have excellent credit have never ever been late in one payment and now I have almost foreclosure on my credit report. how can i fix this? is it true it stays on there for 7 years? should i close credit cards? what can i do to bring it back up to above 700? I cannot believe how ignorant I have been through this whole process but I don't want to have to pay for this for ever either. What if any recourse is there for me?

I appreciate any and all advice and i think you are all wonderful to do this for everyone.
Thanks,




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