Division of Financial Practices
Clarke W. Brinckerhoff
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20580
June 4, 1999
Mr. Jeff Kosmerl
949 Ormewood Terrace
Atlanta, Georgia 30316
Dear Mr. Kosmerl:
This responds to your request for our views concerning the calculation
of the period for which a consumer reporting agency ("CRA")
is permitted to report accounts that have been charged off or
placed for collection, under the amended Fair Credit Reporting
Section 623(a)(5) requires a party that "furnishes information
to a (CRA) regarding a delinquent account being placed for collection,
charged to profit or loss, or subject to any similar action"
to notify the agency (within 90 days of reporting the account)
of "the month and year of the commencement of the delinquency
that immediately preceded" the creditor's action. Section
605(a)(4) provides that the CRA may report the information for
seven years, in most cases.(1)
Section 605(c)(1) provides that the seven year period begins 180
days from the "commencement of the delinquency" date.
Section 605(c)(2) provides that the section applies "only
to items of information added to the file of a consumer on or
after the date that is 455 days after the date of enactment of
the Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act ."
Specifically, you ask (1) how the date is determined if there
are multiple obsolescence dates where "you have several delinquencies
preceding a collection or charge off (8/91 60+, 9/91 60+, 10/91
30+, 11/91 account closed by creditor)" and (2) if "adverse
information listed on a report prior to 9/30/97 is exempt from"
the procedure set forth in Section 605(c)(1) .
1. As explained in the enclosed letter (Johnson,
8/31/98), it was Congress' intent in enacting Sections 605(c)(1)
and 623(a)(5) to establish a single date -- the start of the delinquency
-- to begin the obsolescence period on these accounts. This avoids
the "multiple date" problem that arguably existed prior
to the 1996 amendments. In the case you described, the date of
the "commencement of the delinquency" that led to the
creditor's chargeoff or collection action would be July 1991 or
earlier (depending on how long the account was continuously delinquent
before that). The seven year period would start no later than
January 1992 (180 days later), with the result that the chargeoff
or collection could no longer be reported in most cases beyond
2. Section 605(c)(2) states that the section "shall apply
only to items of information added to the (CRA) file of a consumer
on or after" 455 days after the enactment of those amendments,
or December 29, 1997.(2) We read
this language to mean that a CRA is not required to use the commencement-of-delinquency
date mandated by Section 605(c)(1) on an account where the chargeoff
or collection ("item of information") was first reported
to the CRA ("added to the ... file") prior to that date.
Thus, adverse information such as collections or chargeoffs reported
before December 29, 1997, are not subject to the new "commencement
of the delinquency" provision.
The views set forth in this informal staff letter are not binding
on the Commission.
Clarke W. Brinckerhoff
1. Section 605(b)(1) exempts credit
transactions involving a principal amount of $150,000 or more.
2. Public Law 104-208, the legislation
adding the FCRA provisions discussed in this letter, was signed
into law on September 30, 1996. Section 605(c)(1) became effective
455 days after that date, as provided by Section 605(c)(2). Most
of the provisions became effective 365 days after enactment.