Nine Ways to Say the Same Thing: How Long Derogatory Information Stays on Your Credit Report

The world of credit is positively chock-full of terms, acronyms, and industry-related jargon that might not make much sense to the untrained eye. Many terms are closely related, but used to describe different things (e.g., credit report versus credit file versus credit score).

However, in other circumstances there may be several different terms that are all used to identify the same information. That is exactly the case when it comes to defining the date from which a negative item must be removed from your credit reports.

Believe it or not, there are at least nine different terms and acronyms used to explain the date when the seven-year deletion clock begins ticking at the credit reporting agencies. And with nine different ways to say the exact same thing, it’s no wonder consumers are so often confused about credit.

When Will an Item Will Be Removed from Your Credit Report?

You’ll probably be happy to hear that most negative information has a credit reporting expiration date — or, in other words, a date when the offending data legally has to be removed from your credit reports. Generally speaking, the credit reporting time limit for most derogatory credit information is seven years. You can thank the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for this. The FCRA was crafted by lawmakers to ensure that your past credit mistakes aren’t allowed to follow you forever.

But seven years has to start somewhere. And that’s the date that can be referred to nine different ways, some formal and some informal. Some are holdovers from older credit reporting formats, and some are newer and directly out of the credit reporting standards manual, called the Credit Reporting Resource Guide or CRRG.

Here are nine different ways you might see this seven-year start date referred to on your credit reports:

Fair Credit Reporting Act Date of First Delinquency: The date you miss your first payment (assuming that you never bring that account back to a current status afterwards) is known as the Fair Credit Reporting Act Date of First Delinquency on the account. This date is important for tracking purposes, but it’s not actually when the seven years starts.

Instead, the seven-year clock begins to tick once the account has become terminally delinquent, or 180 days past due. This terminal delinquency is often referred to as default. So if you wish use the Fair Credit Reporting Act Date of First Delinquency to track how long an item may remain on your credit reports, then you’ll need to count forward seven years and 180 days from that date.

FCRA DoFD: An acronym used to shorten the Fair Credit Reporting Act Date of First Delinquency. It’s much less wordy, which is why this one has become so common.

DoFD: An even shorter acronym for the Fair Credit Reporting Act Date of First Delinquency. It almost has a Game of Thrones (GoT) look to it, doesn’t it?

First Delinquency Date: Yet another way to say the same thing. If you wish to use the first delinquency date to track when an item must be deleted from your credit reports, be sure to add on seven years and 180 days.

Original Delinquency Date: Original delinquency and first delinquency are exactly the same. It’s mere semantics, but it appears on some credit report formats given to consumers via certain websites.

‘Purge From’ Date: Add seven years to this date and you’ll have your deletion date. This date is not always viewable on a consumer disclosure or on a Residential Mortgage Credit Report (RMCR).

Anchor Date: Another term used to describe the “purge from” date of an item on a credit report. This, in my humble opinion, is the slickest term of the bunch.

Date of Last Activity: The Date of Last Activity no longer exists in credit reporting language (Metro2); however, it’s a term that might still show up on a consumer disclosure or on an RMCR. Formerly this field on a disclosure or RMCR was used to represent the purge from date, though that has since changed and therefore often leads to a lot of confusion. In the roughly 300 pages of the Credit Reporting Resource Guide you will not find any reference to the Date of Last Activity.

DLA: An acronym used in lieu of Date of Last Activity.

So there you have it: One of the most important details on your credit reports — the date when a derogatory item will be deleted — can also be one of the most confusing. Hopefully this reference will help if you’re waiting for that seven-year salvation.

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John Ulzheimer is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, and identity theft. He has written four books on the topic and has been interviewed and quoted thousands of times over the past 10 years. With time spent at Equifax and FICO, Ulzheimer is the only credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. He has been an expert witness in over 230 credit related lawsuits and has been qualified to testify in both federal and state courts on the topic of consumer credit.

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