Yes, I'm not kidding. Even though this blog has repeatedly said that credit repair firms can't clean your credit, and that they can't remove true credit information no matter what they claim. So, was I lying then, or am I lying now?

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As a matter of fact, neither. Credit repair firms cannot legitimately do anything that you can't do yourself. That was and will always be true. However, you can, in the right circumstances, get past-due credit accounts brought to current status and reported that way to credit bureaus, get late fees forgiven, and get back on track. It's called debt re-aging, and it's all the rage.

What is debt re-aging?

When a delinquent account is re-aged, it's no longer considered past due by the creditor or credit bureaus. The creditor simply reclassifies the account as "current" and it gets reported that way in the next reporting cycle. If you're three months behind on one of your credit card accounts, and you can convince the credit card provider to re-age your account, it would be as if those three months never happened. You still owe the money, but the late fees go away and you're no longer considered delinquent. Your credit score increases because a major booger has been deleted.

But how do you convince a creditor to re-age your account?

It's not easy, and you can't do it every month. It kind of works along the same principle as debt settlement -- I'll do something for you (pay you now) if you do something for me (waive the unpaid balance, in the case of debt settlement, or make my credit report prettier, in the case of re-aging). You want to offer the creditor a generous payment, along with proof that you are in a position to continue paying your account on time as agreed.

Of course, the government has guidelines about re-aging schemes. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), says that for a revolving account to be eligible for re-aging, it must meet several conditions.

1. You must show a willingness and the ability to repay the loan.

2. Your account should be at least nine months old.

3. You must commit to making at least three consecutive monthly payments or an equivalent lump sum single payment.

4. Your account cannot be re-aged more than once within any twelve-month period.

5. You are not allowed any new credit until you get your balance down to below it's pre-delinquency level.

Contact your creditors in writing if you can pay your bills on time from now on and would like your accounts re-aged. Explain why you were late, and what has changed that will allow you to meet your payment due dates in the future. If the creditor agrees to re-age your account, get the agreement in writing before forking over a big payment. Many consumers have been told over the phone that a creditor will re-age their account, only to find that the re-aging never took place.