The value of the data found in credit reports is dependent on their accuracy (which is kind of scary given that one in five people’s reports could contain errors that cause them not to be extended credit), obviously American Express reporting a date other than the actual opening date isn’t accurate so you can see why companies would want this change made.
This is a bit of a nuisance as opening a new American Express card was always an easy way to boost your average age of accounts for those that had a long history with American Express.
This means that if you’ve been a member of American Express (e.g had one of their credit cards) since 1990 and applied for a card this year, they would report the opening date of the new credit card as 1990. Age is important when it comes to credit scores, as one of the scoring criteria is average age of all accounts (which is a sub section of length of credit history – which accounts for 15% of your FICO score).
A little over a week ago a user on the my FICO forums was told by American Express Credit Bureau Unit that as of March 21st, 2015 (this date is based on when American Express first reports your credit card and not when you were approved/received your card) new credit card accounts would not be backdated and the actual approval date would be used.
However, at common law this was a criminal offence (going by the contradictory sounding name of uttering a false document) and in most English law based legal systems it is still an offence today, although in many cases statutory provisions have superseded the common law (for example, in the British Virgin Islands see section 242 of the Criminal Code 1997).
Where backdating is done for financial gain, it may also constitute the more dull-sounding criminal offence of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception.
The first and most important thing to note about the consequences of backdating a document is that it is potentially a criminal offence.
However, such doctrines are normally limited to situations where one party backdates the contract without the knowledge or consent of the other.I’ve been reluctant to post anything, as customer service representatives often tell cardholders the wrong information.That being said, I now have multiple reports from readers who’s cards have reported to the credit bureaus after this March 21st, 2015 date and they have all stated that their cards were not backdated to their original member since date.At the very least a party seeking equitable relief will struggle to meet the test of “clean hands” which the courts require.Lack of a prosecution does not mean a lack of legal consequences.