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[This question is very similar to Credit Report debt expiration limit: original creditor vs. Collection, but I'm solely concerned with the 7-year FCRA rule and my ability / legal right, or lack thereof, to get it removed.]

In 2008 I cancelled a wireless account. Due to a misunderstanding (which I think was their fault, but I don't think it matters now and I can't prove it) the account had a $70 balance which I never paid. Later that year, they sold the debt to collection agency A and the collection appeared on my credit report.

In 2011 I learned A sold the debt to another collection agency B, and a new collection appeared on my credit report with a date of 2011. Apparently this happened a couple more times, and today I discovered that I have a collection from D on my report with a date of 2016.

Does the 7-year rule in the FCRA mean that I should be able to contact the credit bureaus, dispute the collection and have it removed from my report? If so, shouldn't this have happened automatically? Or, does the clock reset each time the debt is sold? It is now 9 years and change since the original account in question was closed and the unpaid amount supposedly billed, but the information on my credit report makes it look like a new debt from 2016.

I have never spoken or communicated with any of the collection agencies - I don't answer phone calls from numbers I don't recognize and I've never gotten anything in the mail - and I've certainly never paid anyone anything (I've heard that those are things that can reset the clock).

At this point my primary objective is to get the collection off my report, if I'm legally entitled to that. I'm also perfectly willing to pay off the debt, but again I've heard that this is something to be very careful about because it can refresh the bad marks on my credit score. My credit score is very good despite the collection and I don't want to do anything that might damage my score (and if I can improve it, all the better).

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This happened to me as well. I'm pretty sure the clock gets reset each time it gets sold to a new collections agency. That's the bad news. Followed me around on my credit score for a long time even though the original $100 charge in my case had been many years back and no one had ever contacted me. I wasn't even sure to to contact about it and I didn't want to because I kept hoping it would fall off my credit. With a little work I probably could have found them and called to find out what the heck it was without resetting the clock, but I didn't want to encourage the collections guys.

The good news is that when debt is sold for the third time, it's sold for very little and they don't work hard to collect small amounts like that. In my case, I told the credit agencies I didn't think it was a legit claim as I had no record of owing anything to anyone. The credit bureaus tried to contact the collections agency, who did not respond. The bureaus deleted the record and my credit went from great to outstanding. Your mileage may vary.

Good luck.

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