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From the Experts at Credit.com

Removing Collection Accounts from Your Credit Reports

by Gerri Detweiler

Pay for Removal Deals: Removing Collection Accounts from Your Credit Reports

If you have collection accounts on your credit reports, then no doubt you just want them to go away. Legally, though, they can be reported for seven and a half years from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. And that probably feels like forever!

The idea that you can get the collection agency to remove the account if you pay it may be appealing, but it’s trickier than you may think for reasons we’ll explain in a moment.

The first step to dealing with this situation is to get your credit reports and your credit scores so you can understand exactly what is being reported and how it affects your scores. You can get a free credit report each year from each of the major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – and you can get a truly free credit score updated monthly from Credit.com.

Consumers sometimes ask collection agencies to remove the collection account from their credit reports in exchange for payment. Sometimes collection agencies make this kind of offer, but usually it is the debtor who tries to negotiate a “pay for removal” deal.

Collection agencies will often respond to this request by stating that they are unable to remove the negative information. And to a large extent, that is true. The credit reporting agencies with whom they have contracts prohibit this activity. (Otherwise, collection accounts would be removed all the time and credit reports would not accurately reflect the consumer’s creditworthiness.)

At the same time, collection agencies cannot report information that is inaccurate or incomplete. So if you found yourself with a collection account on your credit report because you had a legitimate dispute with a creditor or service provider, it is perfectly reasonable to request that collection account be removed if you pay the bill.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Unfortunately, simply paying a collection account (without getting it removed) often won’t improve your credit scores. With few exceptions, as long as a collection account is listed on your credit reports – paid or unpaid – it will have a negative impact on your credit scores.

While it’s discouraging to know that paying collection accounts won’t help your credit, keep in mind that as this information gets older, it will have less and less of an impact on your scores. That’s particularly true if you are building new, positive credit references.

In addition, if any of the information reported about the collection account to the credit reporting agencies is inaccurate or incomplete, you have the right to dispute that account with the credit reporting agencies. They must verify the information with the source. If the source doesn’t confirm the information within thirty days, the credit reporting agency must remove it. Some agencies will not bother to verify older paid collection accounts.

Finally, the newer FICO credit scoring model, called “FICO 08,” will ignore collection accounts where the original balance is less than $100. That should eliminate some “nuisance” collection accounts such as small parking tickets or unpaid library fines from hurting credit scores. Along those lines, the new VantageScore 3.0 credit score ignores all paid collections, as well as any collections, paid or unpaid, under $250.

Even if paying one of these balances off won’t help your scores, it may still be a good idea to resolve it, especially if you are at risk of being sued for the debt. That, in turn, can create even more problems for your credit and your finances.


  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Contact the original creditor, explain what happened and ask them to retract it from the collection agency since you paid them. If they aren’t cooperative file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Yes – it is required under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. Has he also dispute it through the credit reportng agencies that list the debt? He should do that in writing. If they don’t verify it, it will be removed from his credit reports. Let us know what happens and we can discuss next steps.

  • Bern

    I have a collection account that is 4 years old and it was sold to Pinnacle. Pinnacle has been reporting the debt to the 3 credit reporting agencies for the past four month every month thus reducing my credit scoring. Is that legal? How long can they report this debt the credit reporting agencies?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Exactly what are they reporting each month? If you can be very specific it would be helpful.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I have emailed you directly.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I am sorry I am still not sure I understand what’s happening. They can report the status every month – that’s what credit card companies do, for example. Or do you mean they are creating a new tradeline?

    • Surfside05

      Gerri,
      I’m having the same issue here. I have a debt I’ve been disputing and it’s been with the same credit company and they report the same debt every week. Thereby hitting my report 4x’s a month for the same amount. It shows up like a new collection every week. However, they say they are using the same account number and amount so it’s accurate. Although, I’ve tried explaining that the amount is what I’m disputing with the electric company. Can they do this legally?

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        I am going to email you directly.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It is 7 years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. You could always try disputing it – if it is not confirmed it will be removed. The other option is to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and note that you didn’t receive notification of the debt until it was too late.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It is seven years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. You’ll learn more about that here: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Why do they say you owe more? Is it interest? Penalties? Late fees?

  • Samantha

    I was wondering how do i find out if i have any unpaid debt that the debt collectors have not contacted me about?. because i think i do have a medical bill or two.

  • Steve

    Is it better to go directly to the original creditor or deal with the collections agency? Lets say, I owe $600 for a medical bill that is in collections. Could I try contacting the Hospital requesting removal of collections for payment or should I just pay it through the collections agency? Also, who makes the decision whether or not a collections is removed from an account?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      You can always try contacting the original creditor and see what they say. It largely depends on their agreement with the collection agency and whether there are any factor that led to it being place for collection prematurely or erroneously. We wrote about that here: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    If you fall behind on a bill your account may be sent to collections. Typically the creditor isn’t required to notify you that your account is being turned over to a bill collector before they do so. Does that answer your question?

  • Nattie

    I recently checked my credit report and a collection agency reported the same account 5 times. I was advised I should dispute this and have them removed, how do I go about doing this?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Good for you for checking your credit reports. Here are the steps to take to dispute errors:
      How Do I Dispute an Error in My Credit Report?

      Good luck to you.

    • Monica

      I did a search on how to dispute debt. I found an example and used it. It basically said I needed the following: 1) copy of original receipt or contract 2) proof it was min (driver license or ID when I applied for the credit) 3) stated the statute of limitations (4 years in TX) had passed 4) I could sue them for harassing me since it had been passed that time. I sent a letter certified mail. About 2 weeks later, I received a letter from the creditor saying they would delete the account from all 3 credit bureaus!!!! Very worth the research and time!!

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Who is they? Does the bill really belong to you? And by credit history, do you mean credit report?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It’s a very valid point! And extremely frustrating. Some collection agencies will hold off reporting if you resolve it right away but it doesn’t sound like this one will work with you.

    Keep in mind that as it gets older it has less impact on your score, even if it’s still on there. And if a lender happens to use VantageScore 3 then paid collections will be ignored.

    In the meantime you may want to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as they are looking into collection problems.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    What do you mean by “getting updated”? Most scoring models don’t penalize the same for a collections account whether it’s been paid off or not (Vantage 3.0 is the exception here). The negative information should automatically fall off your credit report 7 years and 180 days after the account with the original creditor was first reported late. But there’s still some good news for you. The further this fades into history, the less it will impact your score. And having some positive history (a credit card paid on time, on-time car payments, etc.) will also help.
    Here’s more information you may find helpful:
    How to Rebuild Credit
    Pay for Removal Deals: Removing Collection Accounts from Your Credit Reports.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Jim –
    We wish we could help, but we don’t have information on how the process works outside the US.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    It will remain on your credit report for seven years and 180 days after it was first reported late. Although paying the settlement is unlikely to affect your credit score, it will ensure that you are not sued. A judgment against you is an even worse blemish on your credit report than a collection. For more information, see:
    Creditor Gets a Judgment Against You – Now What?
    A Debt Collector Came After Me for $8.97

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Denis- What is your goal here? To buy another home? To resolve your collection accounts? To clean up your credit reports? Simply paying these accounts won’t help your credit scores, but it can prevent you from being sued or from having the debts sold to new collection agencies.

    We’ve written a couple of articles about this topic you may find useful:

    The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit

    What Happens If I Never Pay an Old Debt?

    • Desire

      Our goal is buying another home, we are just hoping that selling our home won’t leave us stranded from buying another, we talked to a quicken loans agent and he said that debt is what’s standing in our way. Will paying off our debt start our 7 years over of negative marks?

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        Before you do anything. I’d suggest you work with a loan officer who really fully understands credit scores. You need someone with access to something called “Rapid Rescore” that can run “what if” scenarios with your credit.

        Paying off or settling collection accounts does not extend the time they can be reported but it will extend the statute of limitations IF they have expired (matter of state law).

        So maybe a lender would require that these accounts be satisfied if you pay them off, but don’t expect that doing so will increase your credit scores. Find out what interest rate you’d be charged with your credit score today and decide if that’s acceptable.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Andrew – It is so hard to say as it depends on everything in your reports. I think it’s unlikely that you will get all 5 collection agencies to remove those accounts in exchange for paying/settling them. As I wrote in this article, they have contracts with the credit reporting agencies that prohibit them from doing “pay for removal” deals though sometimes they do happen.

    Have you obtained your
    free credit score from Credit.com? With it you will see an action plan for your credit. What does it say are the main areas you need to work on?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Gary –
    We wish we had better news . . .paying your collections account is unlikely to affect your credit score (and it’s not possible for us to know whether the financing decision would be reversed). However, you still might want to do it, because once it is paid off, you can’t be sued for the money. Having a judgment against you is an even bigger black mark on your credit than an account in collections. Also, the age of the account in collections matters. It should automatically fall off your credit report 7 years and 180 days after it was reported late by the original creditor.
    Here are some Credit.com resources that might be useful to you:
    The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors
    Link text
    Will Settling a Collection Account Hurt My Credit?

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Who is it that the mortgage broker is saying has the problematic trade line? Is it the original finance company, or a collection company entry?

    You are going to be hard pressed to get anything removed that is accurate at this point. But paid collections does not have to hold you back from financing.

    Is the repo the only delinquency you have? Are there any other collections accounts appearing on your credit?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Unfortunately when you cosign you become 100% responsible for the debt and the lender isn’t necessarily obligated to notify you when your cosigner falls behind. Have you paid your partner’s portion? What’s the status of this debt?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    You won’t have much leverage at this point (and collection agencies really aren’t supposed to do “pay for delete” deals anyway). But sometimes when consumers dispute old paid collection accounts through the credit reporting agencies they aren’t confirmed and end up removed. Otherwise, it will be a matter of waiting for them to age.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Nope – paying it does not start the time period over. The seven and a half year time period starts from the first delinquency with the original creditor and applies whether it is paid or unpaid.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I am confused – will they delete if you pay it or not? And is your insurance company going to pay the full amount or a portion? And why didn’t the insurance company pay it before it went to collections?

    You want this off your credit reports if at all possible. I’d suggest you read this article: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

  • Monica

    I have 3 collection accounts where 7 and 1/2 years from the time they first showed on my credit report will have passed in 2015. They are all less than $200 dollars. Can the debt collector or original creditor transfer the debt to another debt collector and now the new one re establishes the debt on my credit report after trying to get me to pay them?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    The debt should not be reported 7 years and 180 days after it was first reported late by the original creditor. That’s what’s supposed to happen, but in reality things can become confused when a debt is sold. We wrote about the problem here:
    Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    The date it was opened shouldn’t address how long it is reported, however, the collection agency should be reporting the original date of delinquency accurately. It sounds like they are not and as a result it’s on your credit reports longer than it should be. Dispute it in writing (not online or on the phone) with the credit reporting agency. If it is not removed, contact a consumer law attorney with experience in debt collection and credit reporting laws. The collection agency may be breaking two federal laws here.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I assume the insurance company will reimburse you if you pay it? If so then you can pay the collection agency but only if they give you something in writing stating they will remove it from your reports first. The other option is to ask the medical provider to pull it back from collections as described in the article in my first reply. If they failed to bill the insurance you gave them that would be a perfectly reasonable request.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I assume the insurance company will reimburse you if you pay it? If so then you can pay the collection agency but only if they give you something in writing stating they will remove it from your reports first. The other option is to ask the medical provider to pull it back from collections as described in the article in my first reply. If they failed to bill the insurance you gave them that would be a perfectly reasonable request.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    Have you written to, spoken with, or talked with the service provider in person about the credit reporting aspects? Were your payments to the debt collector, or to the service provider?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It sounds like you are getting the run around. It’s pretty hard to pay a bill you never received! I suggest your next step is to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Name the medical provider and the collection agency in your complaint. If that doesn’t resolve it you may need to talk with a consumer law attorney.

  • Mike

    2010, My wife had medical problems and at that time, insurance company denied to pay bills(about $250.000). I told hospital, I’d fight with them but still they sent it to collection company. finally, I made insurance company pay all bills recently(yes, after 4 years) and I talked to collection company and they said on the phone, if I pay remaining balance, they’ll remove collection from my history. should I trust them and pay or should I get something in written before I make payment? Thanks

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      You should get something in writing.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Collection accounts may be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you fell behind with the original creditor. When did you get the medical treatment? If it was 2008 then it sounds like you will be approaching the 7 year mark next year or so. Hang in there. (Paying collection accounts doesn’t remove them from your credit or help your credit scores unfortunately.)

    Do you have any credit references now? You may want to consider a
    secured credit card.

    • Alisha Ranjit

      Madam, thank you so much for the response. Yes, I do have credit card but the credit score never goes up despite of all payments in time.
      Is there any other way to remove those derogatory marks or just not possible?

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        What state do you live in Alisha?

        • Alisha Ranjit

          I live in texas

          • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

            The statute of limitations has likely expired on these debts. Trying to negotiate them now may revive the statute of limitations. Can you hang in there until the reporting period expires? It sounds like it shouldn’t be too much longer – 7.5 years from when you missed the first payment with the medical providers.

  • Daniel inSFL

    I would like to find out what debt i have in collections? I had a background check performed and was told I had two debts in collections. I don’t know where to find them. How do I go about making a payment schedule or calling “them?”

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Daniel — You can find “them” listed on your credit report. You are entitled to one copy per year from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

      Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

      It’s a good idea to monitor your reports regularly — you’ll want to make sure you’re aware of what potential employers and landlords see. And to have an opportunity to correct any inaccuracies.

      Should you find an error, here’s what to do: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • leslie

    After reading this I went and check my open dates. Were the Verizon has a more recent open date than it should have. They have been re-saling the collection how do you dispute it and what records do you need to back it up with?

  • brandon

    i just came back from being deployed overseas i had a payment plan set up with tmobile for a bill 873$. They ended up never charging my card as i found out with this “nice” collection on my account. what is the best way to go about this bill now that i dont have 873$ just to take out of my pocket for this. the debt is now over a yr old.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Have you talked to the medical provider? If they will pull it back from collections and allow you to continue to make payments that would be the best for you since it should come off your credit reports. Given the circumstances of your deployment it would be really nice of them to work with you. This will explain what I mean: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

  • Kali

    Andrew, I was in the same boat. What type of credit lines are you going to open? Maybe two credit cards and a retail card. It’s best not to have more than two credit cards. If they’re credit limits average less than $2000, they won’t impact your score as quickly as you need. Make sure to keep your balances below 16%. My score was 505 in January and is now 593. There are two items that will expire for my credit report next month, and I believe my score will excel into the 600′s. It helps me to monitor my report and scores. I’m hoping the best for you!

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    It never hurts to ask if an account can be removed, and you can do that. The good news here is that the accounts should fall off your credit reports seven years and 180 days after your first delinquent payment with the original creditor. And even before that, older information has less impact on your scores than newer information.

  • kris

    Once a debt is deleted from your report through the dispute process, how long is it before you see a change in your score? If it changes at all.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      That should happen within 30 days, after the credit reporting agency has investigated and resolved the dispute. If you see an error though, you may need to dispute it with all three of the credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Here’s more:
      A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Vee

    I have a cable bill from Feb 2010, that I was not aware of because I moved. I never received a final statement from the cable provider, after having provided a forwarding address. The account was sent to a collection agency in Oct 2010, but the address they have is incorrect and I still haven’t received anything, not even from the collection agency. I only found out about the negative information when I pulled my annual report. I disputed with the credit bureau and the finding was that this is a valid debt. Is there anything else I can do to try and have the negative information removed or should I just pay it, without having seen any statement?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Vee – This is unfortunately a more common problem than people realize. I just wrote about it here: The Little-Known Moving Mistake That Will Cost You Big.

      I think your goal should be try to get this off your credit reports. Paying collection accounts doesn’t help your credit. First contact the cable provider and explain the situation. Ask them to pull it back from collections so you can pay them. If they take it back from collections it should come off your credit reports. (I know cable companies aren’t easy to deal with, but it’s worth a try.)

      If that doesn’t work, contact the collection agency (your credit report should contain their contact information) and explain that you never received the bill and ask them if they will remove it if you pay it. Be very nice but firm. If they refuse, you may want to tell them you’ll file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They may not want to deal with that.

      One more thing: it is really important for you to document how this has affected your credit. So be sure to get your credit reports from all three agencies if you haven’t already. And if you aren’t monitoring your credit scores, you need to do so in order to have a record of how this is affecting your credit. Here’s how to get your free credit score.

  • David

    I have payed my creditor the full amount owed and they have marked my account as payed in full – How do I now go about sending a dispute to the creditor to have them fully remove this account from my credit history? And how likely are they to actually remove it from my account after investigating the dispute?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Paying off an account doesn’t remove the account from your credit report. Negative information can generally be reported for seven years, even if the account was paid.

  • Mrs4Givin

    I live in Alaska and I have some bills that have been paid off. Not quite 7 years and I’ am so frustrated with having them on my report. Is there anyway to get them removed before the 7 years. They are doctor bills.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Were the bills paid late? They can remain on your credit reports for 7 years and 180 days after they originally went late. The good news here is that late payments affect your scores less as time passes.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      A bill that has been paid off doesn’t necessarily disappear from your credit reports. If it was late, it can be reported for seven years and 180 days after the original bill went late. The good news here is that it’s close to falling off your credit report, and that its impact weakens as time goes by.

  • Angela

    I recently had a collections account taken off my credit report. It stated “Your credit report no longer lists the following collections account. It may have been corrected or expired due to length of time on your credit report:does this mean it is really gone? I just got a letter to my job trying to get wage garnishment based on this same debt. How do I handle this?

    • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

      Were you aware that you were sued? Is there a judgment listed in the public record section of your credit report? Was the collection account you refer to as being removed recently from the original creditor, or a debt collector?

      What are your current financial capabilities to resolve the debt? Can you raise the cash to offer a lump sum settlement amount? Are you strapped to the point where you may qualify for partial or full exemption from garnishment?

      What state do you live in?

      • Angela

        I was not aware that I had been sued until I received the letter to my job and I immediately checked ny credit report. Sure enough there is a judgement entered by the collections company. The account that was removed was from the debt collector.
        I should be able to pay off in a lump sum settlement. I just dont want thisnto go into garnishments but dont know how to proceed since it has fallen off the report. Is there any way that I can pay the original debtor (bank of america) instead of cach llc? I live in NY

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          Unless Bank of America was the company that obtained the judgment (and it doesn’t sound like that’s the case) it’s too late to work directly with them. You’ll need to work something out with the company that has the judgment. Make sure you get all the stipulations of your agreement (how much you’ll pay, whether that will satisfy the debt in full, that they will no longer pursue garnishment etc.) in writing before you pay them. Then keep that agreement plus any proof you have that you paid them in a safe place indefinitely. These articles should help:

          Creditor Gets a Judgment Against You – Now What? and

          Help! I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report

          • Angela

            I will contact the debt collector then. What does it mean that the collection fell off my credit report though? I guess that is the part that is confusing me.

          • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

            I am not sure I understand your question – but if what you’re asking is why the collection account is no longer reported, it’s because collection accounts may only be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. Judgments have their own reporting period. Is that what you are asking?

  • Heather MacPherson

    I have 5 accounts all for the same charge of $147 each. They were for my son when he was born 5 years ago and we were completely covered by state insurance at the time. I was told that apparently, the hospital incorrectly billed my insurance company and so they went onto my account. Is this something I can have removed from my credit report? How would I go about correcting this? Thank you for your time.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      It’s probably little comfort to know you’re not alone in having this problem. We wrote about it in Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage, which outlines why the problem occurs and how to fix it. We hope this helps.

  • Stundent Loans

    I have consolidated my Sallie Mae student loans with another lender, but the Sallie Mae loans are still on my credit report as negative “paid in full”. If they have all the money and i owe someone else for these loans, why is it sill affecting my score negatively? Can I get them removed or place in a positive state? I tried to dispute, but I don’t know how. please help!

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Not sure what you mean by negative. If it is showing late payments those late payments can be reported for up to seven years (since they are simply stating the fact that you were late which was accurate.) If they say something else let me know.

      • Stundent Loans

        These are accounts that are currently not paid as agreed.
        Name: SALLIE MAE
        Acct #: XXXX
        Credit Limit: n/a
        Date Reported: 06/09/2014
        Date Opened: 04/29/2005
        Balance: $0
        Past Due: $0
        Acct Status: PAYS AS AGREED

        This is what each one of the accounts say on my credit. Under “Negative Information”

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          That’s very odd. I don’t see anything negative about that. I’d suggest you call the credit reporting agency that supplied that report (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion). I wonder if there are some codes that you aren’t seeing that is categorizing that as negative. Would you let me know what they say?

    • Anonymous

      Challenge the item with all three credit bureaus. Since Sallie Mae no longer holds the loans they may be unable to substantiate the information and that may cause the negative information to be removed from your report.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Angela – I am going to have to suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney who can answer your questions. It’s just not clear to me what the issues are and since I am not an attorney I want to make sure you get accurate advice. You can visit NACA.net or NACBA.org to find one in your area.

    • Angela

      No problem Gerri. Will do. Thank you for your help!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Does it list the original date of delinquency? That’s the date that matters as far as the 7.5 year reporting period goes. If it doesn’t, contact the credit reporting agency for an explanation. The other things you are doing sound like the correct steps at this stage. Keep us posted.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Not sure what you mean by “the collection agency wouldn’t help.” They must respond to a properly filed dispute.

    If your dispute with TU doesn’t resolve it I’d suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It could have a significant negative impact on your credit but these matters are hard to resolve after the fact. We wrote about that in this article: How to Stop a Landlord From Ruining Your Credit

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    There are two separate issues: the 1099-c (and do you owe the IRS money?) and the debt itself – do you owe that? For the first issue, I suggest you read our series on 1099-cs, and in particular the most recent installment as I have a feeling they sent the 1099-c late: The Little-Known Moving Mistake That Will Cost You Big

    As for the other issue, it depends on the state of limitations for that debt which varies by state. It may be too old under those laws for them to successfully sue you.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    The scenario you describe should not occur. We wrote about it here: Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage.

  • Demetrius

    Ok, I would like to know if I have 5 collectios and I start paying them monthly to catch up will it help my credit?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    A credit report appears the same regardless of the salary an employer pays. Before you authorize a potential employer to access it though, you should know what it says. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I would suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That may do the trick. Please let us know!

  • Fausto

    I had an account go into collections that I noticed using CreditKarma, which apparently gets their info from Transunion. My score dropped 21 points when it was reported. I had actually never incurred the debt, I sent two certified letters(one to the collection agency and one to Transunion) with a cancelled check paid on time to the original creditor…. Transunion sent me a letter with the results of the investigation listed as “Deleted”…. My credit score went back up immediately, but only 10 points.. Shouldn’t it go back to the original score I had?? especially since it was proven to be inaccurate information? When I sent the letters I requested the false information be “expunged” not deleted…. The way it looks to me is that there would be no difference if the negative information just sort of expired due to whatever statutes, not completely erased as it should be since It was no fault of mine… Am I incorrect? Thanks~~

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      It’s possible that something else changed in your credit during the time this was all being sorted out. Did you have any new inquiries, higher balances, new accounts or any other changes to your report? Remember, credit scores are in flux all the time. They are created based on whatever information is available at that time. I’d suggest you also monitor your free credit score with Credit.com. Our information comes from Experian so if this problem pops up there you should be alerted to the change in your score.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    You probably won’t get much help from the bureau as the score is quite complicated compared to the report itself. I know it’s frustrating but I think you’re spinning your wheels trying to guess here. As long as everything looks accurate then continue to focus on building better credit. A secured card (with a very low or no balance) sounds like an excellent idea!

    • Fausto

      Ok, Thanks for the advice!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    The time to negotiate a pay for removal deal is before you pay. It’s tough to do after the fact. Have you simply tried asking the credit reporting agencies to investigate the item? If the collection agency doesn’t confirm it, it will be removed.

  • John

    I have three negatives on my credit report, I am currently applying for a mortgage. The latest debt is 6-1/2 years old. Problem is that when the bank pulled my report, it doesn’t show the full history of the debt, just that it a current delinquency. The banker says that unless the report shows that the debt is either paid or being paid I will not get a mortgage. I really did not want to wait another 13 months before these come off my credit report so I can apply for a mortgage. Is it worth contacting the debt collector and making a deal? It’s about 40,000 in total, I know I could negotiate that way down. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      What state do you live in?

  • Anna

    I just ran a free credit report and found out I have an account in collections from when I visited a physicians immediate care in 2011. Is there anything I can do about this? Will paying it off help?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    First of all, checking your own credit report shouldn’t be a risk though I can’t guarantee it. Checking your own credit is a soft inquiry that is not shared with creditors.

    It’s very likely that the credit reporting agencies already have your current address. And even if they don’t, you want the collector to know how to contact you if they do initiate a lawsuit. (Otherwise the alternative could be that they serve you at your last known address, you don’t know about it, and they get a default judgment against you.)

    So go ahead and get your
    Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports. (You’ll find information about getting your free score on that page as well.)

    An account that went delinquent 10 years ago should not appear on your credit unless they got a judgment against you. (Judgments have their own reporting period.) And while I am not an attorney based on my resources it appears the statute of limitations may be close to expiring. You may want to check on that. (Again, though, you need to know if there is a judgment.)

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    The reason there isn’t a lot of specific information about this medical debt is explained here: How Can You Prove a Debt Isn’t Yours?

    Ask the credit reporting agency for the contact information for the collection agency reporting it and reach out to them directly.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Did you get this specific one removed already? If so by law they are supposed to notify you before they put it back on your report.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Did you ever receive any information about this account from the original medical provider? In other words did you know it was unpaid before it went to collections?

  • RCL

    My wife had a parking ticket while we were separated last summer and neglected to tell me about it. I am now in collection for a small ticket – I think it was originally about $50.

    I am presently looking to buy a home. I’d like to get this off my report, but my finance guy says not to touch it until after a mortgage is issued – clearing the debt could actually result in a worse score. Is that accurate?

    Unfortunately, I didn’t know about the ticket until after it went into collection – I’m not sure how this can be held against me.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Paying a collection account won’t make a difference as far as your credit scores are concerned, unless the lender happens to be using a VantageScore which ignores paid collections – but those aren’t typically used in mortgage decisions. So perhaps the reason your finance guy is telling you not to touch it is that they don’t want you to dispute it. Disputing an account while you are trying to get a mortgage can be a problem, as mortgage expert Scott Sheldon explained in this article:

      A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Hi Jasmine –
    It’s hard to say what your chances are, but the way you can try to remove this from your credit report is to dispute the item. Unless it is confirmed within 30 days (and it might be), it has to be removed from your record. You will need to do this with all three of the credit reporting agencies. Here’s a guide: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

    Good luck to you. (And should this not work, know that positive reports elsewhere, along with time, can help reduce the impact of this on your credit report.)

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    By “debtor” I assume you mean “furnisher” – the company that supplied the info to the credit reporting agency? That’s usually done by computer and to my knowledge does not require proof – just a response.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    So the Sprint collection account was off your report after a dispute and is now back on? If that’s the case they are supposed to notify you in advance before it is re-reported. However, since you are in the middle of buying a home you don’t have a lot of time to file a complaint so I’d suggest you either get your loan officer to help you or consult a consumer law attorney which you can find at NACA.net.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It’s certainly worth a try! They may have a policy where they stop reporting them if they are paid. Let us know what you find out.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    What do you mean they won’t remove it? Have you formally asked them in writing to do so? If not, I’d suggest you get your credit reports then dispute it in writing with the credit reporting agencies and the collection agencies. (Do it both ways to protect your rights – send your request by certified mail.) If they still won’t remove it, either consult a consumer law attorney or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I’d be interested in hearing what happens.

    • paulette

      I sent CACH LLC (collection company) a letter along with my court documentation (not certified) which shows that the judgment was found in my favor. I also disputed it with all 3 credit bureaus and Transunion was the only one that deleted it. Exp and Equ are stating that CACH LLC came back and said that the debt is valid even after I provided legal documentation from the court stating that I won the case. They said that the collection agency has to delete it and legally as a credit bureau they can’t delete something unless the agency doesn’t respond to the dispute within 30 days. I filed another dispute with Equifax and Experian again to see what the results will be. If they’re still updating it as valid, can I sue them and what would be my legal standing??

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        Talk with a consumer law attorney. You may have a case for credit damage. If you had an attorney represent you in the lawsuit against the collector, ask them for help. If not you can visit Naca.net. I’d like to hear what happens!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    That is frustrating! Given that you didn’t even know about the bill I don’t think it’s unreasonable for you to ask the credit reporting agencies to investigate and confirm it. If the collector doesn’t respond to the request, it will be removed. If that doesn’t work, then your next step would be to try talking with the collection agency.

    Will you let me know what happens?

    • ESharer

      I am concerned about requesting the credit reporting agencies to investigate it. Doesn’t it reset the 7 year time if you dispute it?

      • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

        It does not reset it. Credit reporting agencies are obligated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information, usually within 30 days. They are not required to remove accurate information unless it is more than seven years old. But disputing information does not reset the time, which is measured from when the account was first reported late.

  • Jim

    My father passed away and one of his bills was added to my Equifax credit report. I disputed the collection and Equifax and the other credit agencies removed it. It reappeared on Equifax a year later. I disputed it again and Equifax refused to remove it. Can I do anything else to resolve this?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Yes Jim. Either contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to file a complaint or talk with a consumer law attorney with experience in these matters. (Visit Naca.net if you need help finding one.)

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Credit reporting is voluntary. The fact that you have not been contacted doesn’t let you off the hook for any deficiency balance. It is entirely possible the balance could be turned over to collections – and it may include other costs such as repo costs, collection costs etc. You may want to talk with a consumer law attorney to find out what your options are if they contact you and you can’t pay.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Paying off your credit cards shouldn’t hurt your scores. However, you may not have a zero balance the day your card issuer reports. You can get get your free credit score, along with the factors that may be affecting it. It may be that your credit utilization (the amount you put on a credit card relative to credit limit) is high, even if you pay your bill in full. It’s best to keep that under 30%, and under 10% is even better. This post, about a similar issue, may be useful to you:
    Will Paying Bills Before They Arrive Help My Credit?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    They may try but if they do they a. may be breaking the law by misrepresenting the status of the debt and b. you can raise the statute of limitations as a defense against the lawsuit.

    When did you first fall behind on these credit cards? That’s when the 7.5 year reporting period starts with regard to the collection accounts. After that time elapses they cannot report it unless they get a judgment against you. And again, it doesn’t sound like they can do that if you raise the statute of limitations as a defense.

    Since you live in Texas I suggest you take advantage of a great free resource there – the Texas Consumer Complaint Center.

    • Doc

      I do appreciate the reply and esp. how fast it was
      last payment made Aug and Sept 2010
      I have received 1099 in 2012 and again in 2013 to file as income which I did.
      In Texas the statue is 4 years
      I went back and looked the letter I got Friday is from the 4th collector it has been sold to

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        Doc – It sounds like perhaps the SOL have not expired and they may be trying to get judgments before they do. I’d recommend you talk with a consumer law attorney in Texas asap to find out what your rights are and how to protect the other property you own.

        • Doc

          Thanks again Gerri.
          Reading the letter it just as much says that they are past
          I looked and this one I got the letter from shows last payment date 07/20/2010
          The SOL on it would have been July or this month for sure
          I am keeping close tabs and fortunately
          The county I am in we have a judge that looks at the paper work of the collector to be sure it is proper and makes them prove the correct person has been contacted before he will hear the case
          The clerk did say that we have one of the very few judges that do this .I just talked with her

  • james

    I need to get a letter from a collection agency stating they will remove the item from credit report upon receipt of payment in full how can I do this?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      If the collection agency has made that offer, tell them you will send the check upon receipt of the letter.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    You can always try. If you request an investigation from the credit reporting agency and the collection agency doesn’t respond, the item will be removed.

  • Emtmedic44

    What kind of collection accounts are they? Medical, utility, credit card?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    That raises the question of which FICO score is “right”? There are many different versions of FICO scores and lenders also customize them. I wrote about this in this article: 3 Reasons Why Your Free Credit Score Looks Wrong

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    With most scoring models currently in use, it won’t help. But that is changing. A new FICO scoring model (FICO 9), which ignores paid collection accounts, will be available to lenders in the fall. We wrote about it here: Why You Shouldn’t Get Too Excited About the New FICO Score… Yet

    The good news for you is that time will also reduce the impact this has on your credit scores.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Jennifer, the fact that the collection account is showing open probably isn’t really affecting your scores one way or the other. It’s the fact that there is a collection account on there that is harming them. Unfortunately under the vast majority of credit scoring models used today paying a collection account won’t boost your scores. (It will with newer models when they are finally adopted – see the article I link to below.)

    Nevertheless, federal law entitles you to dispute an item that is incorrect or incomplete. Since you’ve already gone the route of disputing with the credit reporting agencies you may want to try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They just took enforcement action against a lender that was inaccurately reporting credit information. It’s worth a try!

    Why You Shouldn’t Get Too Excited About the New FICO Score… Yet

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    No paying it off won’t help your credit scores in the short term (at least with most models used today) but it can avoid a possible lawsuit for the debt which could be worse if it results in a judgment. Also keep in mind that you may get a 1099-C for the cancelled amount. We wrote about that here: 1099-C In the Mail? How to Avoid Taxes on Cancelled Debt

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    There is no reason a 20 year old unpaid debt should suddenly show up on your credit unless there is a judgment against you. (Even then most credit reporting agencies don’t report unpaid judgments that old.) I’d suggest you dispute it in writing via certified mail with the credit reporting agencies that are reporting it. If it is not removed, let us know. You could also try contacting a consumer law attorney; they may be willing to help you for free because if the debt collection agency is breaking the law it would have to pay your attorney’s fees. Visit NACA.net if you need help finding one.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    It’s not likely to work, according to debt expert Michael Bovee. “Mostly people can expect the check they send with the limited endorsement to get deposited, and the creditors collections process to proceed unabated,” he said. “Sometimes you could see the check returned with a brief letter explaining the company’s policy for not accepting limited endorsement payments.”

    He said a negotiated settlement is a better idea.

  • Sarah

    I’m a college student, and the only thing on my credit so far was student loans, which I have already started making small payments on despite the fact that I am not entitled to make payments until 6 months after I graduate. Last summer, I had dental work done through my parents insurance, and my mother was set up to make the remaining payments not covered under the insurance. Now my credit it showing $80 in collections for a payment my mom missed. Is there a way of disputing this? Since I don’t have much on my credit this is drastically affecting me negatively.


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