Credit Clinic


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The seven year rule

Q.         Can a debt collector collect a debt that has remained unpaid for more than 7 years?

A.            Yes, so long as the statute of limitations has not run out.  Contact a private attorney or the Legal Services Corporation 302-575-0408 to see if you income qualify for their services for Delaware’s statute of limitations on debt collections.

Q.         The seven-year statute applies to which debts?

A.            The following negative history should not be in your credit report after seven years have passed:

  • Paid tax liens;
  • Accounts placed for collection or written off as a bad debt;
  • Any other unfavorable information more than seven years old.

Ten year rule applies to:

  • Bankruptcies; 

Special rule for lawsuits and judgments:

  • Lawsuits and judgments will be removed from your credit report after seven years or until the statute of limitations has expired, whichever is longer;
Q.         When does the seven-year (plus 180 day) clock start ticking?
  • From the date when you first missed your regular payment on the debt. The Seven Year Period: Congress intended to establish a date certain – 180 days after the start of the delinquency that led to charge off to begin the obsolescence period. Effective Date: 455 days after the date of enactment of Consumer Credit Reform Act of 1996 or December 29, 1997.
Q.         Can a debt collector re-age my account?

A.            No. Re-aging means that the collector reports the debt as becoming delinquent on the date it acquires the debt. 

Q.         If the debt collector re-aged my account, what do I do?

A.            DISPUTE with the credit bureaus AND debt collectors.  Ask for validation. 

Q.         What if I don’t remember what this old collection account is all about?

A.            Ask for validation.  In other words, ask (in writing) the collection agency to prove that it owns this debt. 

Sample letter regarding removing your seven-year delinquent debt

Address: _________________
Telephone: _______________


Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc., PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA  30374
TransUnion LLC, PO Box 1000, Chester, PA  19022
Experian, PO Box 2002, Allen, TX  75013

RE: My Social Security Number: ______________________
Dear Sir/Madam:
I am writing to have the following information removed from my credit report. Upon updating my credit file, please forward me my complete, fair, and accurate credit report.  Please send me the names, business addresses, and day time telephone number of each individual with whom you verified these accounts so that I may follow-up with them.
I have attached a copy of my credit report and have circled each such information.  Against each such information I have made a notation (ex. Item #1, Item # 2, etc.) for your reference.
Item #: 1

  • Original Creditor: _________  (name)
  • Original delinquency: _____________ (date)

As you can see, the delinquency is seven years old.  This item is old and obsolete under 15 U.S.C. Section 1681c.  Please remove it from my credit report.
Item # 2

  • Reported debt collector: ____________ (name)
  • Reported delinquency: ______________ (date)

The debt collector is attempting to collect the debt that is referenced in Item # 1. old and obsolete under 15 U.S.C. Section 1681c


Enclosures: List all items you are enclosing

Q.  How do I build good credit?

A.  Pay all bills on time and use only about 30% of available credit.

Q. How do I get my free credit report annually?

A.  Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act go to

Q.   How can I get my free credit score?


Q.    What is a FICO score?
A.    The FICO Score (300-850) is created by Fair, Isaac and company to determine your credit risk.

Q.          How is my Credit Score compiled?
A.           35% on your payment history, 30% on amount already owed, 15% on length of credit history, 10% on new credit, 10% on type of credit.

Q.            Should I pay my Credit card bills in full each month?
A.            Yes.  If you cannot pay the bill in full, please pay at least pay more than the minimum. Don’t pay just the minimum.  Read your bill carefully.  It tells you what happens if you pay the minimum.

Q.            Where can I get some help with debt reduction planning?
A.            Visit for help with planning.

Q.            How do I reach my Credit Bureaus?
A.            Experian 888-397-3742, Equifax 800-685-1111, Trans Union 800-916-8800

Q.            What reports should I order annually?
A.            Credit Reports annually at  or 1-877-322-8228, Employment Background Check/ Homeowners and Auto Insurance Claims at   1-866-312-8076, MIB-Consumer’s Medical Condition at    1-866-692-6901
Unlawful Detainer Registry (Residential/tenant history) at  or 1-877-448-5732, ChexSystems at  or 1-800-428-9623

Q.            How long does bad credit remain on my credit account?

Civil Judgment –7 years
Unpaid tax liens - Indefinite
Other derogatory- 7 years old
Paid tax liens—7 years from date paid
Chapter 7, 11- 10 years
Chapter 13, 10 years
Chapter 13 dismissal/discharges – 7 years
Bankruptcies voluntarily dismissed -7 years

Q.         When may someone look at my entire un-purged credit history?

A.            If you are plying for Credit over $150,000, Insurance over $150,000, Job more than $75,000/year

Q.            How do I correct errors on my credit report?

Write + Send documentation—duplicates not originals
If bureau made mistake, it must
Correct it,
Notify all other credit bureaus,
Notify those who looked at credit report in past 6 months—REQUEST IT
Bureau has 30 days to reply and send corrected credit report

Q.            If I am a victim of Identity Theft, what should I do?

File a police report with the Financial Crimes Unit.
Contact the fraud departments and have a fraud alert placed on your credit file:
· Equifax              1-800-525-6285
· Experian           1-888-397-3742
· TransUnion     1-800-680-7289
Order Credit Reports:
· Equifax              1-800-685-1111
· Experian           1-888-397-3742
· TransUnion     1-800-916-8800
Open new accounts etc. Insist on password only access to your account.
Contact/Inform the following in Delaware:
· SSA                     1-800-772-1213
· FTC                     1-877-ID-THEFT
· IRS                       1-877-777-4778
· DE DMV            1-302-434-3200

Q.            Can you tell me the different consumer bankruptcies available to me?

Chapter 7 -> liquidation--No debts to repay
Chapter 13 -> reorganization--Sort of debt consolidation, Keep assets

Q.            What is the Equal Credit Opportunity Act?

It is non-discriminatory law that prohibits discrimination in lending on the basis of
Race, gender, marital status, age (no loans to under 18 unless an emancipated adult), national origin, religion, source of income, prior exercise of consumer protection rights. The law also requires a 30 day letter to notify you whether you were approved or denied & if denied, the reason for denial.

Q.         What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

A.            The law prohibits the Debt Collector from
Using obscene/profane language
Threaten violence or harm
Deposit check prematurely
Deceive you into accepting their call
Take or threaten action they cannot take

The law requires that Debt Collector does not contact you
Before 8 am & after 9 pm
If you write to them
If you have an attorney and collector is notified of it

The law requires the Debt Collector to provide written notice to include amount & creditor within 5 days of 1st contact

If debt not yours, write within 30 days

Q.         What is the Truth-in-Lending Act?

A.            The law requires lenders to disclose:
Amount financed
Total Finance charges
Annual Percentage Rate
Total Payments after all payments made

Q.         What is the Fair Credit Billing Act?


If there are unauthorized charges—your liability is limited to $50
Gives you the right to write/document to Billing Inquiries
Send certified mail within 60 days after first billing error
Lender must acknowledge within 30 days of receipt
Must resolve within two billing cycles
During dispute
Continue making payment
Lender prohibited from beginning collections
If you are right lender must notify in writing, correct it
If you are wrong you must pay

Q.         What is the Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act?


Gives you the right to your annual free credit report.
It also gives you the right to correct information reported in your credit report
Write to the Credit Bureau & Lender “Disputing _________”
Bureau must investigate within 30 days
Bureau must write to you about their investigation plus provide you a credit report if it has changed
The disputed debt cannot reappear unless you are notified in writing.
Gives you the right to include a 100 word consumer statement in your credit report.



Quick Look at What's Happening at DCRAC

DCRAC applauds DoD's new rules to fight predatory lending.

Here's the WHYY Newsworks online write up of DCRAC's Pre-Purchase First Time Homebuyer program.

Check out the WHYY First story about DCRAC's Pre-Purchase First-Time Homebuyer program.

DCRAC is always looking for ways to work with our elected officials, this recent News Journal editorial highlights the latest example.

Check out how DCRAC grant from U.S. bishops’ CCHD helps Stepping Stones Community Federal Credit Union

Thank you for all your support! DCRAC's "Stand Up for Fair Lending and Rock with DCRAC" event at the World Cafe Live at the Queen was a tremendous success. Here was the News Journal op-ed we had to promote the event.

In this News Journal article, check out how out this how DCRAC teamed up with TD Bank to help a small business owner.

If you need more info about HB 286 and want to call your senator to let him or her know how you feel, click here.

Check out the HB 286 opposition letter from Rashmi Rangan and other community leaders from June 5th.

After collecting data for a year, here is the report to the Office of the State Bank Commissioner on payday lending in Delaware for 2013.

Learn how to avoid foreclosure scams, and talk to mortgage lenders and servicers at these two Delaware Housing Workshops: Monday, June 9th & Tuesday, June 10th. Click here for info.

DCRAC's Free Community BBQ is still on. Join us at 601 N. Church Street today from 11:30 am - 6:30 pm for some burgers and dogs.

DCRAC in the News Journal on May 3, 2014 Payday reform progress, but more needs to be done.

DCRAC Free Community BBQ on Friday, May 16th, 11:30 am to 6:30 pm.

Cape Gazette story of the DCRAC's Free Tax Clinic Workshops for Procrastinators

WHYY's Newsworks coverage of DCRAC's Free Tax Clinic Workshops for Procrastinators

DCRAC Free Tax Clinic Workshops for Procrastinators in Milford, 12 noon - 1:45 pm and Georgetown, 5:00 pm-6:45 pm on April 15th

Check out this profile of DCRAC volunteer attorney Jim Angus in the April issue of Delaware Beach Life magazine.

Do you want to buy a home? Attend the DSHA Homebuyer Fair on Saturday, April 5th from 8am to 4pm at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. Click here for info.

Worried about missing a mortgage payment? DCRAC will be on hand for the DE AG & DSHA's Delaware Housing Workshops on Saturday, March 22nd in Dover 9am - 1pm and Newark 3pm - 7pm. Click here for more info.

Check out Rashmi Rangan's Three Rules for Tax Season in the News Journal.

DCRAC will be hosting a free Tax Clinic Workshop in Wilmington at William Hicks Anderson Community Center on March 20th 12 noon to 1pm and 6pm to 7pm.

In February, DCRAC made the local press in the Milford Chronicle and Cape Gazette.

Rashmi Rangan and Jim Angus had this piece in the News Journal in January.

Hey folks, if you get a notice from the IRS, be sure and check out one of DCRAC's free tax workshops on April 15th. We'll have one in Milford and a second in Georgetown.

Happy New Year! Celebrate the new year with our Financial Fitness Series on the first three Saturdays of each month: January 4th, 11th & 18th; February 1st, 8th & 15th; March 1st, 8th & 15th; April 5th 12th & 19th. Our free classes a run from 10am to 1pm. Thanks to a grant from the Kenny Family Foundation, lunch is served at no charge.

New TELEPHONE Numbers at DCRAC! You can still reach us at the old numbers you have for us. You may get a message to hang up and call our new telephone number.

Delaware CRA Contacts:


Key Contact Information: