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How to Write a Re-Aging Debt Letter

What is a Re-Aging Debt Letter?

A re-aging debt letter is basically a request you send to your creditors – asking them to re-age or update the status of an old debt on your credit report. The goal is to get them to report the debt as being more current and less delinquent than it actually is.Why would you want to do that, you ask? Well, having a bunch of old, delinquent debts on your credit can really tank your score and make it harder to get approved for loans, credit cards, mortgages, apartments – you name it. By re-aging the debt, it looks less crappy on your report and your score doesn’t take such a big hit.Now, I should mention – re-aging isn’t some magic fix that makes debt just disappear. The debt is still there and you still owe it. But it can help improve your credit situation while you work on paying it off or settling up.

When to Use a Re-Aging Letter

Re-aging letters work best for debts that are a few years old and have gone into collections. More recent debts probably won’t qualify. You’ll also want to make sure you have the ability to start making payments again on the debt you’re re-aging.The creditor isn’t going to re-age a debt just for funsies – they’ll expect you to start paying something towards it again. Even just making the minimum payment can be enough to get them to re-age it though.So in summary – re-aging is an option for older collection debts that you can realistically start paying on again. It’s not a get-out-of-debt-free card, but it can help improve your credit while you get back on track.

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Benefits of Re-Aging Debt

The biggest benefit of re-aging debt is the potential boost to your credit score. Having a bunch of recent late payments and delinquencies is way worse for your score than older ones. By re-aging, you can make those debts look less severe.For example, let’s say you have a $5,000 credit card debt from 2019 that went into collections and your last payment was in early 2020. That’s going to look really bad on your credit report as a recent delinquency.But if you re-age that debt and get it updated to show you made a payment in March 2023 – suddenly it looks a lot better. The debt is still there, but it’s now showing more recent activity instead of being delinquent for 3+ years.This can mean the difference between getting approved or denied for a loan, credit card, apartment, etc. It shows lenders you’re taking steps to address the debt.Re-aging can also stop debt collectors from constantly calling and sending letters. Once the debt shows newer activity, they may back off thinking you’re paying it.Of course, the downside is you do have to actually start making payments again. But it can be a way to improve your credit situation without fully paying off every old debt all at once.

How to Write the Re-Aging Letter

Okay, now for the nuts and bolts of how to actually write one of these re-aging letters. Here’s a simple template you can follow:Re: Account XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXDear [Creditor Name],I am writing to request that you re-age the above account on my credit report. I would like the account to be reported as current with a new delinquency date of [insert recent date].In exchange for re-aging this debt, I agree to make a payment of [payment amount] by [date around 2 weeks from now]. Going forward, I will make [weekly/bi-weekly/monthly] payments of [payment amount] until the balance is paid in full.I understand that re-aging does not remove the debt from my credit report, but will update the delinquency status to show more recent activity. I am taking responsibility for repaying this obligation.Please confirm in writing that you will honor this re-aging request upon receipt of my initial payment. You can reach me at [your phone and/or email] with any questions.Thank you for your cooperation,[Your Name]That’s the basic gist – identify the debt, request re-aging with a new delinquency date, agree to start making payments, and ask for written confirmation.A few extra tips:

  • Be polite but firm in your language
  • Use the creditor’s official name and your full account number
  • Propose a payment plan you can realistically follow through on
  • Send copies of the letter to all three credit bureaus as well
  • Follow up with the creditor if you don’t hear back in 2-3 weeks

Writing a solid re-aging letter takes a little effort, but it can be well worth it for giving your credit a boost while you pay off old debts.

Potential Pitfalls of Re-Aging

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the potential downsides and pitfalls of trying to re-age debt. It’s not a perfect solution and there are some risks to be aware of:

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  • The creditor can refuse to re-age the debt – they don’t have to agree to it
  • If you miss a payment after re-aging, it can reset as delinquent again
  • Re-aging resets the statute of limitations on the debt in some states
  • It may violate the terms of a previous debt settlement agreement
  • Debt collectors could potentially still pursue the full balance owed

So while re-aging can help your credit score, it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card. You still have to stay on top of payments, and there’s a possibility it could extend the life of the debt or even violate prior agreements.Because of those risks, re-aging may not be advisable if:

  • The debt is very old and close to falling off your report anyway
  • You already have a settled agreement to pay a lower amount
  • The statute of limitations is expiring soon in your state

It’s smart to weigh the pros and cons for your specific situation. Re-aging can be helpful for more recent collection debts, but may cause more headaches than it’s worth for really old stuff.

Re-Aging and the Law

Now for some quick legal talk – re-aging debt isn’t technically illegal, but there are laws around how it can be reported and collected on. The main ones to know are:

  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) – Creditors can’t just re-age willy-nilly. There has to be a legitimate reason, like you actually restarting payments.
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) – Debt collectors have to follow rules about re-aging too. They can’t threaten or trick you into restarting the clock.
  • State Laws – Some states have more specific laws about re-aging and the statute of limitations on debt. These vary quite a bit.

So in short – re-aging itself is allowed, but there are consumer protection laws to prevent abuse and shady practices around it. Creditors have to play by certain rules.If you ever feel a debt collector is violating these laws and re-aging improperly, you may want to talk to a lawyer about your options. There are legal defenses if they overstep.

When Re-Aging May Not Work

We’ve covered the upsides of re-aging, but it’s not a magic wand either. There are some situations where re-aging just may not be very effective:

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  • The debt is too old already (5+ years)
  • You have too many other delinquencies
  • Your credit is already terrible
  • You can’t actually afford the payments

If your credit is in the gutter with a ton of recent late payments and high balances, re-aging an old debt or two probably won’t help much. The recent negative stuff will still outweigh it.Same goes if you truly can’t afford to restart payments on the debt. The creditor will likely refuse re-aging if they don’t think you’re serious about paying. And if you do get it re-aged but then miss payments again – it’ll just get reset as delinquent.Re-aging works best when you have one or two problematic old debts, but your overall credit profile is still decent otherwise. It can help minimize the damage from those couple dings.But if your credit is already a dumpster fire, re-aging may not be worth the effort. You’re likely better off just focusing on paying down balances and cleaning up the recent stuff first before worrying about old debts.

Alternatives to Re-Aging

If re-aging doesn’t seem like the right fit for your situation, there are some other credit repair options to consider:

  • Debt settlement – Negotiating lump sum payoffs for less than the full balance
  • Pay for deletion – Asking to have paid/settled debts removed from your report
  • Goodwill letters – Requesting creditors remove or adjust negative entries as a gesture
  • Credit repair services – Hiring a company to dispute errors and negotiate on your behalf
  • Bankruptcy – A legal process to discharge debts you can’t pay (major negative impact)

Each of those alternatives has its own pros and cons in terms of cost, credit impact, and effectiveness. Re-aging may still be preferable if it’s an option.But the point is – you have choices beyond just ignoring old debts or paying them in full. Explore all your options for cleaning up your credit history.

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Sample Re-Aging Letter

Okay, let’s put everything together with a sample re-aging letter you could send:Re: Chase Credit Card Account #5555-4444-3333-2222Dear Chase Bank,I am writing to request that you re-age the above account on my credit report to show a new delinquency date of March 15, 2023.In exchange for re-aging this debt, I agree to make an initial payment of $100 by April 1, 2023. Going forward, I will make bi-weekly payments of $75 until the remaining balance is paid in full.I understand that re-aging does not remove this debt from my credit report. However, it will update the delinquency status to show I have restarted payments after a period of non-payment. I take full responsibility for repaying this obligation.Please confirm in writing that you will honor this re-aging request upon receipt of my $100 payment on or before April 1st. You can reach me at debtpayer@gmail.com or 555-123-4567 with any other questions.Thank you for your cooperation,John A. DebtpayerA few notes on this example:

  • Uses the creditor’s full name and my complete account number
  • Specifies the new delinquency date I’d like it re-aged to (March 15, 2023)
  • Lays out a clear payment plan I’m proposing ($100 on April 1, then $75 bi-weekly)
  • Requests written confirmation that they’ll re-age it after that first payment
  • Includes multiple ways for them to reach me with any questions
  • Polite and concise, but firm in tone

Obviously you’d customize this template with your own details. But it hits all the key elements I covered earlier.The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the creditor to agree to re-age the debt by laying out exactly what you’ll do. That improves your chances of success.

When to Seek Legal Help

For the most part, writing re-aging letters and negotiating with creditors is something you can handle yourself if you’re diligent about it. The letters don’t have to be overly complex or legalistic.However, there are some situations where it may be wise to seek professional legal help:

  • If creditors refuse to re-age despite your best efforts
  • If you suspect violations of debt collection laws
  • If re-aging could potentially violate prior agreements
  • If you have a very large amount of debt across many accounts
  • If you’re considering bankruptcy as an alternative

A qualified consumer law attorney can review your full financial situation and credit history. They can then advise if re-aging is truly your best option or if you may have other better paths to repair your credit.Lawyers can also intervene if creditors are being uncooperative or potentially acting unlawfully in regards to re-aging. They know all the relevant laws and regulations.While re-aging letters are DIY-able for simple cases, it never hurts to at least consult an attorney, especially if you have a lot of debt or a complicated history. Their expertise could save you time and money in the long run.

When Re-Aging Isn’t Enough

At the end of the day, re-aging is really just a band-aid solution – it helps your credit situation in the short-term, but doesn’t make your debt magically disappear. At some point, you’ll need to buckle down and really tackle those outstanding balances.So if re-aging alone isn’t providing the credit boost you need, it may be time to look into more comprehensive debt relief options like:

  • Debt consolidation loans
  • Debt management programs
  • Debt settlement
  • Bankruptcy

Each of those paths has significant pros and cons in terms of cost, credit impact, and long-term effects. But they actually deal with resolving the debt itself rather than just updating its appearance.Re-aging can be a useful tool in your arsenal, but it’s not a permanent fix for serious debt problems. Don’t let it lull you into complacency – have a plan to really get that debt paid off or discharged one way or another.Your long-term financial health and credit score will thank you for taking decisive action. Re-aging is just the first step on that journey.

Key Takeaways

We’ve covered a ton of info on re-aging debt letters, so let’s summarize the key points:

  • Re-aging updates the status of old debts to look more current
  • It can provide a short-term credit score boost while you pay off debts
  • But re-aging doesn’t make debts go away – you still owe them
  • Creditors don’t have to agree, and there are some legal limitations
  • It works best for single accounts, not if you have widespread debt issues
  • Re-aging letters should be polite but firm in requesting updated reporting
  • Seek legal help if creditors violate laws or you have a complex situation
  • Re-aging is a temporary band-aid – you still need a long-term debt plan

The re-aging process takes some effort, but it can be a useful credit repair tactic when used correctly. Just don’t treat it as a permanent fix – the goal should still be responsibly paying off or resolving those outstanding debts.With some diligence and the right approach, re-aging can help minimize credit score damage from your past money mistakes as you get back on track financially.

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