Dear Creditnet: I'm trying to clean up my credit reports so I can get approved for a mortgage this year. While I've already removed a lot of errors, I still have a few old credit card debts I think are ready to drop off at any time.
What confuses me is how to determine exactly when these debts will fall off my credit reports. Should I be trying to determine the "date of first delinquency" or the "date of last activity", and can you explain the difference between the two terms?
Answer: The date you want to determine for each of these debts is the DOFD, or the "Date of First Delinquency". The DOLA (Date of Last Activity) is important to track too, but it actually has no bearing on how long a debt will remain on your credit reports.
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), negative marks can remain on your credit reports for 7 years from the DOFD. If you're still a bit confused, here are some quick definitions to help you better understand the difference between the two terms:
DOFD: The date a consumer first becomes delinquent (generally 30 days late), never brings the account current, and a charge-off follows.
DOLA: The date the last transaction on an account took place, such as the date the account was sold to a debt collector, charged off by the original creditor, or even updated after a consumer dispute.
As you might imagine, the DOLA can change often when basically any activity takes place on your credit card accounts. On the other hand, the DOFD should never change.
If you're unable to locate the DOFD on your credit reports, don't be surprised. Some credit bureaus may not even show it on your credit reports; however, you can determine exactly what it is by writing the credit reporting agencies and requesting the date your debt will be removed per the FCRA.