Home > Managing Debt > Debt Collectors Killing Your Credit? Here’s What To Do

Comments 180 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


“I want to clean up my credit. How do I take care of collection accounts?” It’s a question we hear often, often from readers like Kim, who wrote on the Credit.com blog:

I have to admit that I have a few collection accounts… Until a year ago, I just stuck my head in the sand and completely ignored the debt because it seemed too overwhelming to tackle. But now I’m trying to face my fears and eventually reclaim my “good/excellent” credit score standing.

If your credit report lists one or more collection accounts, here’s how to tackle them in five steps.

Step 1: Figure Out Who You Owe

This may sound simple enough, but if more than one of your accounts has gone into collections, or if any of those accounts are older, it can get confusing. An account may have changed hands, for example, or you may not have heard from anyone about a debt for a while so you aren’t sure where it stands.

“Debts that remain unpaid long enough will get assigned out to many different collection agencies, or sold to a debt buyer who may use outside collection agencies,” explains Michael Bovee, founder of the Consumer Recovery Network, which publishes a free guide to debt settlement. “Debts can often be sold multiple times. During these later stages of debt collection you can receive letters and calls from half a dozen or more agencies. This can make it tough to determine who it is you should contact to resolve an old collection account.”

He suggests several approaches to tracking down what you owe:

  1. Contact the original creditor to find out whether they have placed it with a collection agency. The original creditor is the company to which you first owed the debt; a credit card issuer, cell phone company, a hospital or a bank, for example. If they tell you they have sold it, then ask for the name of the collection agency to whom they sold it. Keep in mind, though, that the agency may have since sold it to yet another collection agency.
  2. Check your credit reports to see what collection accounts are listed. Bovee also suggests looking at the inquiries section of your report to see if it lists any inquiries from debt buyers or bill collectors. “Get your annual free credit report from all three credit bureaus. They may not all be the same,” warns Mark Neeb, president and CEO of debt collection agency The Affiliated Group, and past president of ACA International. “There may be collection items that appear on one (report) but not on another.” Your credit report should list contact information for each company that is reporting information. If it doesn’t, and you can’t figure out how to contact the collector, ask the credit reporting agency to provide it. (You can get your three main credit reports once a year for free.)
  3. Check your mail for collection notices. Keep copies of any letters you receive while you sort out how much and whom you owe. If you receive a collection letter about a debt you don’t recognize, or aren’t sure the amount is correct, write to the agency immediately and dispute the debt. Under federal law you have the right to request validation of the debt.

If you are dealing with more than one account, it’s a good idea to make a list of all the collection accounts you have identified through this process: the name of the agency, the original creditor, the current balance, and the date you defaulted with the original creditor.

If you decide to call a bill collector, grab a pen and paper first. “Take detailed notes,” says credit coach and Credit.com Contributor Jeanne Kelly. “You want to make sure it is an accurate bill. Take people’s names, extension, where they are located so you know who you have spoken to when you need to follow up.” Keep those notes in a file along with any correspondence, copies of your credit reports, etc. Plan on holding onto this file for a long time, just in case.

If you are hearing from more than one collector for the same account, it can be a challenge to figure out who you should be paying. “It can be a real mess and I feel for consumers who have this issue,” says Neeb. Explain to both collection agencies what is going on and ask them to help verify which one is valid. “Any collection agency that is worth its salt will help a consumer even if it’s not our fault,” he asserts.

Step 2: Decide What to Pay

Collection accounts can be divided into four buckets, Neeb explains:

  1. Ones you know you owe, and the amount is correct.
  2. Accounts you don’t remember and aren’t sure you owe.
  3. Debts that may have changed hands.
  4. Those in which you don’t agree with the existence of the debt in the first place.

The first group — debts you know you owe and the amount is correct — are “low-hanging fruit,” he says. Bovee agrees, adding, “If you are paying off a debt in full, there is not much to it. The collector will be happy to hear from you.”

Deciding how to handle the others may be trickier.

If you dig up a debt you don’t recognize, request written verification of the debt from the collection agency. The FTC points out, “Every collector must send you a written ‘validation notice’ telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice also must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money.”

If they already sent this to you when they first tried to collect the debt, they aren’t obligated to send it again, “but every collection agency I know will,” Neeb insists.

If there was a legitimate dispute about the debt in the first place (for example, you were billed for a service you canceled per the terms of the contract, or for merchandise you returned), you can notify the collection agency that you don’t believe you owe the debt and ask them not to contact you again. If you have proof of why you believe the debt was wrong, you can also ask them to stop reporting it to the credit reporting agencies. Include documentation of your side of the story if you have it.

For older accounts, make sure you understand whether the statute of limitations has expired. If a collector tries to sue you for a debt that is outside this time frame — usually four to six years, but longer in some cases — you can raise the statute of limitations as a defense against the lawsuit. Making a payment, even for a small amount, on debt outside the statute of limitations, however, will usually start the clock ticking again. That means you could open yourself up to a lawsuit at a later date.

One of our readers, Melissa, shared her experience with this:

I had a $100 collection account for a medical bill on my credit report that I wanted to pay off. I called the hospital that was listed as the creditor and they said they couldn’t find my account. A day, and about six phone calls to various companies, later — I found my debt. It was with a company called NCO Financial. They informed me that my balance was actually $871, a $100 debt for my minor daughter (that I was aware of) and a $771 for myself that I had forgotten about and is NOT listed on my credit report. I paid the $100 and told them the $771 from date-of-service 2005 was past the statute of limitations and that I would not be paying it.

Step 3: Pay What You Can

Your next step is to set a budget for resolving these accounts. This means taking a careful look at your income and expenses to figure out how much you can afford to pay. The best deals will be struck when you have saved up cash to settle. If all you can afford is a very small payment on a very large debt, then you may be better off talking with a bankruptcy attorney. “If you are not in a position to follow through with any arrangement, wait until you are better prepared financially to strike a deal,” Bovee advises.

Once you know your budget, you can start contacting collectors to try to settle. “When you are prepared financially to resolve older collection debts, it is often best to make contact with collectors by telephone,” Bovee warns. “Letter writing campaigns to collection agencies are not all that effective.”

We often hear the question, “How much should I offer?” The answer is to try to pay what you can afford. But it doesn’t hurt to start your negotiations lower than that so you have room to haggle. “Getting collectors to settle a debt for ‘pennies on the dollar’ is not that common,” says Bovee. “But a few ‘dimes on the dollar’ is. The approach you take, and the amount you need to be prepared to pay, will vary from one account, or one collector to the next.”

Step 4: Make Payments Carefully

Whether you are paying the balance in full or negotiating a smaller payment, you want to get an agreement in writing from the collection agency before you pay it.

“I had a client who paid a collection company for an account for a phone bill and they never recorded the payment,” explains Kelly. “The phone company got the account back as uncollected and then (it) was sold to another collection company. We had to prove it was paid. This client had the old bank statement showing it cleared her bank but it was a huge hassle, time-consuming, and the new collection did appear on her credit report, which has since been removed.”

It’s also usually best to pay with a certified check from your bank, or using online bill pay from your bank account so you have a record of the payment without providing the agency details about your checking account.

If you are settling a debt for less than the full balance, it’s essential that you get a letter from the collector detailing the terms of the deal, and confirming that no further balance will be due before you make a payment. “No letter, no deal, no exceptions,” insists Charles Phelan, founder of the DIY debt settlement firm ZipDebt.

Step 5: Monitor Your Credit Reports

If your goal in resolving these accounts is to improve your credit scores, you will likely be disappointed. Paying collection accounts does not remove them from your credit reports. And, with the exception of the new VantageScore 3.0 model, paying a collection account isn’t likely to help boost your credit scores. These accounts are considered negative, paid or not.

This can be incredibly frustrating. One of our readers, “Alyssa” wrote on the Credit.com blog:

Hello, I recently (within the past month) paid off two credit card accounts that ended up in collections with the intent to fix my credit score by doing so. Now that I have read this, I feel foolish to have even paid them at all. How can I repair and build my credit score now? Since paying off my collection accounts would not help anyway.

Even if taking care of these bills won’t immediately help your scores, there are still advantages to resolving them:

  1. No more collection calls or letters for that debt; and no new accounts if the balance is sold to a new agency.
  2. You don’t have to worry about being sued for the bill. (This is less of a worry for older debts where you can raise the statute of limitations as a defense if you are taken to court.)
  3. You may be able to get loans that are off-limits if you have unpaid collections on your credit reports.) For some mortgage loans, for example, the lender may require you to pay a collection account as a condition of getting the loan.

Of course you have to weigh those advantages against the money you’ll spend. But if you do decide to pay them, it’s a good idea to monitor your credit reports and scores to make sure the accounts are listed as paid, and to make sure that no new ones appear on your reports. In addition to AnnualCreditReport.com, which we mentioned above, you can get an easy-to-understand overview of your credit standing, along with your credit scores, all for free using Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card.

More from Credit.com:

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • Jeanine Skowronski

    Yes, collectors are required to provide written verification of a debt within five days of contacting you. More info here:




  • bob

    So in 2014, I received a paid in full letter with returned checked from a hospital. Then in 2015, a whole year later, they then sent me a bill saying I still owed money. I called they said the account would be put on hold until something was figured out and asked me to send a copy of the letter and check via email. Then in May 2016 I got another bill called again. This time the lady said I should send the information to her via email. I did but because they say I still owe in their records I should pay. What do I do? If I have documentation that is from them that says I paid to do I still owe? This is not a new bill it is the same one, nothing new was added to it. BTW this happened in CO.

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

      If you paid and have documentation that you paid, you can use that in challenging the bill from the hospital. If the bill ends up going to a debt collector or on your credit report, that documentation could help you dispute it, since you’re saying it’s inaccurate. Here’s more on disputes: https://www.credit.com/credit-repair/dispute-credit-report-error/

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

    In the U.S., credit bureaus are required to respond to the dispute within 30 days (sometimes 45). If the dispute does not end in your favor, you can consider contacting the data furnisher (the debt collector) and challenging what they’re reporting to the credit bureau. You might find this article helpful: https://www.credit.com/credit-reports/the-truth-about-credit-repair/

  • Perez

    I recently paid off a collection and settled for $1,100 they are now trying to get me to pay an additional $600 after the account was settled I told them that they should look up the recorded phone calls and the agreements that were made and they refused to and keep pressing on about trying to charge me an additional $600 unfortunately I did not get anything in writing besides the recorded phone call is there anything that I can do about this?

    • http://blog.credit.com/author/christine-digangi/ Christine DiGangi

      Hi there. You may want to ask the collector to verify the debt, get together any documentation you have of the process and consult a consumer attorney if you can’t get anywhere with the collector. You might find this helpful: https://www.credit.com/debt/top-10-debt-collection-rights/

  • Perez

    I settled on a account about a month ago and paid $1,100 unfortunately I did not get anything in writing and now they’re trying to charge me more I told them to look up there phone call that I had with myself and with a representative and they still refuse to let it go and they want me to pay an additional $600 is there anything I can do about this?

  • Jeanine Skowronski

    Hi, Natty,

    You can find information about your debt collection rights here: https://www.credit.com/debt/top-10-debt-collection-rights/

    And tips for improving credit here: https://www.credit.com/credit-scores/how-to-improve-your-credit-score/



  • Curious

    I have 2 separate medical bills in collection. 1 has been reported to the credit bureaus, the other is still with the collection company. That being said, the 2 bills are with the same collection company, can that company use the information (i.e. SSN) they have on me from the old debt for the new debt? I did not provide this information to the hospital for the new debt.

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

      Do you mean that the debt has not yet been reported to the credit bureaus? We know of no reason the collector could not use your SSN if it has it already.

      • Curious

        I am now married so the 1st debt was in my maiden name, would that make a difference?

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

          It might make it more difficult for the collector to figure out you are the same person (and have same SSN).

  • Jeanine Skowronski

    Hi, Elise,

    You may want to consult a consumer attorney about your legal options.

    Thank you,


  • Scott

    I defaulted on a credit card which was ultimately sold to a collection company. The original debt aged 7 years and fell off my credit report but the collection has remained on my report. Can the collection company continue to report if the original creditor is no longer reporting? If so, what is the collection agency’s time limitation for reporting assuming I never reactivated the date of last activity?

  • JC

    I was injured severely in 2009 and required surgury. Insurance covered some/most of the cost, but apparently not all. Date of service was 6/2009. There are 3 separate bills, for separate amounts being reported by a collection agency for what the insurance didn’t pay. I understand they may have broken up the services performed separately, and billed them separately. All 3 debts are with the same collection agency. My question is not about the validity of the debts. It is the validity of the reporting date. All services were done 6/2009. One bill went to collections in 12/2010, but two of them appeared in 11/2013. I called the hospital and they said they had been going back and fourth with the insurance since 2009, and determined that I owed the amounts. When does the 7.5 years begin? Having 2 bills showing a “date opened” in 2013 for a service that was rendered but never paid in 2009 doesn’t seem right. Does the time start when after 4 years of back and fourth with insurance it was determined my responsibility, from the date of service, or from when the insurance was first billed? Thank you.

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

      All collection accounts should list an “original date of delinquency” or “date of first delinquency” or something similar. That’s when you first fell behind with the original provider (basically when it was due and didn’t get paid). That date is used to calculate the 7.5 years these can be reported. This article should help: The Most Important Dates on Your Credit Report

  • Bryan Perez

    As I’m in the process of evaluating a hand full of debts (mostly old credit cards, a few utilities such as Verizon and Time Warner) I’m assessing what is feasible in attempting to settle or pay balances off in full. I’ve settled with one company already whom asked if I ever intended to open service with the initial utility company again, If I did indeed plan to do so they informed me that I would need to pay off the balance IN FULL. I’m wondering if the same holds true for credit card companies? (IE- I owe Capital One a small sum; If I was to either refuse to pay the balance and let it eventually fall off my report or settle for less than full would it impact my ability to ever open an account with them someday?)

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

      Some card issuers will not open an account for you in the future if you defaulted one a debt with them in the past, but I am not aware of a list of each one’s policies.

  • Will

    My mother took a credit card out in my name 10 years ago. She racked up $11,000. She was trying to pay it off but stoped 12 months ago because she her self couldn’t keep it up. I just found out it went to a collection agency. I lost my job and now just working part time so I really cant pay it off. I dont want to take legal action against her. Any advice on what my next move should be?

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

      You’ve got two separate issues here. One is that you owe a collection agency a debt you can’t pay. You can’t just tell them that you don’t owe the debt unless you are willing to report your mom for ID theft (and that’s assuming she did so without permission). If you can’t pay, it’s possible you could be sued. If your debt is overwhelming and they are aggressively trying to collect you may need to talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney.

      As for the other issue, you’ll have to see what you can work out with your mom. You could try to sue her but if she doesn’t have the money to pay you back I am afraid it won’t get you very far. Getting a judgment doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get paid.

      It sounds like a tough situation all around.

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

    Yes you may have. But you’d need to consult with a consumer law attorney to be sure.

  • Iesha Taylor

    What are the steps for requested what the correct amount owed is from the original creditor as the amount the from the collection agency is incorrect.

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

      I am sorry I don’t quite understand your question. Are you saying that the debt collector is asking for a different amount than you owed the original creditor? It could be that fees and/or interest have been added but it would be a good idea to get details to make sure it’s correct. Your best bet may be to write to the debt collector (send your letter with proof of delivery like certified mail) and tell them you want to request verification of the debt. Explain that you think the amount they are trying to collect is wrong and ask them to explain how they got to that number. Do it right away as you have 30 days from receipt of their letter to request this.

  • LaRhonda

    I have a collection account that is on my credit in which I have tried to contact the company twice and they will NOT accept my certified letters. I am trying to settle the account and get the account off my credit. Any suggestions?

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

      Settling it won’t necessarily remove it from your credit reports. It can still be reported for a total of 7.5 years from the date you fell behind with the original creditor.

      You could try disputing it with the credit reporting agencies if you think it is in any way inaccurate or incomplete. If the furnisher does not confirm it, it will be removed. Please read: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

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

    Do not pay this until you research your rights. Anytime you are contacted by a debt collector you have the right to request verification of the debt. They are supposed to provide you with information and you are allowed to dispute it as paid. Look for a letter from the collection agency. When you get it you can dispute it in writing. While you are waiting for them to verify it you need to find out if the statute of limitations has expired – it very likely has.

    As for your credit reports, if this dates back to 2006 it should not be on your credit reports. It’s too old.

    Proceed with extreme caution here, and understand your rights.

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

    They do, but they are under no obligation to do so. This article discusses that topic: What Is Re-Aging & Can It Help Me?

  • trish

    Hi, I got divorced and in the agreement my ex got the house which I quit claimed over. My ex was supposed to refi taking my name off the mortgage and has not and instead did a loan modification which I never signed with Chase and now is in foreclosure and on my credit. I have disputed this with the credit bureaus and only one deleted it and the other 2 are staying I am responsible and that is it joint. What can I do?

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

      Signing over the home with a quit claim does not relieve you of the responsibility of the mortgage loan if it was still in both your names. I’d suggest you see a consumer protection attorney right away. This could result in additional legal action against you – and a tax bill for any cancelled debt.

  • Holly Piper

    I went through a nasty divorce where the ex took off with my daughter so long story short lost my job hunting for her and lost house car and all that we own this was back in 2009 so my question is i have some old debts that are about to come off my credit next year and have not heard from them in a few years now all the sudden they have started contacting me again ( i have just ignored the letters and calls) so can they start over on my credit report again even though I have NOT spoke to them or answered there letters?? I ask this because there are 2 that have now dang started over!! help please….

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

      Holly —
      It’s possible you’re confusing the time a debt can be reported with the statute of limitations, and many times, they are not the same. Here’s information about that: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?. The debt should not start over with a new collector, though. The original date should be when it was first reported late. You can address that by disputing the item on your credit report. Here’s how to do that: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • steve

    I am a student at California University of PA. When I went to apply for a student loan for my last year of college, I was suddenly declined even though I have good credit and had a cosigner with good credit. I wad declined because of an open account that hasn’t been paid for. I had no clue what this was about so after asking my father and doing my own investigation, I discovered I had an open account with Jefcapsys (Jefferson Capital Systems), which was bought from Finger Hut. I had no clue who opened this account in my name (I believe it was my mother who had opened this in my name), what Finger Hut is, or even why they would allow for a 19 year old college student to open a credit with them. So now I had to choose to either file a police report on it or just pay it off to try to get it off my report sooner, which I chose to do because I need this student loan or else I won’t be able to pay for this semester’s college expenses. After numerous attempts of trying to get this off, I’ve had to deal with numerous representatives who referred to me to every company in the book, tried to get me to buy stuff off of them, or just flat out told me they weren’t under control of the matter.They told me would send me an email, which I have yet to receive. I called two days later to see if there is any updates and a lady said they were unable to remove this collection off my credit report only to have it say it was paid, something none of the representatives told me before paying. Even though this collection is only $174, this collection account has had a huge impact of my current life and my future life especially if I am unable to get this off to get a student loan. I’m a 22 year old college student with a lack of funding from my parents so paying this off had even put me even in a larger hole financially. I would like to have this collection account off my credit report so I can get the student loan that I need and so I can finally pay my college expenses so I can know these past three years of hard work wasn’t just a waste of time and money.

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

      Have you tried disputing it directly with the credit reporting agencies?

      • steve

        Would the CRA be Jefferson Capital System? I have called them to dispute it but I haven’t yet wrote a letter to them. If not them, I don’t believe I have disputed this with CRAs. Do you know what CRA I should dispute directly towards?

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

          The CRA’s are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. It sounds like Jefferson Capital is a collection agency (under the law called a “furnisher.”) To protect your rights you need to file a request for an investigation with any CRA that is reporting it.

          • steve

            Will do then. I really appreciate the information and help!

      • steve

        I have tried calling Equifax but they said I needed to speak to the collection agency to dispute it.

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

          You always have the right to request an investigation of information in your credit reports you believe to be wrong or incomplete so I am not sure whether they understood exactly what you were saying. Get your
          free annual credit reports from all three agencies then follow the instructions provided to dispute these accounts. Online is fastest but you may want to do it by mail. Either way. keep a record of your dispute. You can simply say that it is not your account and believe it is fraudulent.

          Also you don’t really know who committed this fraud right? You may want to go ahead and complete an Identity Theft Fraud Affidavit and include it with your dispute. Hopefully that will help. If not, you may want to contact the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center.

  • Brittny

    I recently switched cell phone providers and have an outstanding balance with my old provider. If I make monthly payments on it, can they still send it to collections?

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

      Yes. There’s a good chance it will go to collections.

  • Beverly Vickrey

    Me and my fiance are having a rough issue with this one. He and a buddy lived in an apartment and had some friends stay over. Several days later one of the people broke into his apartment and set it on fire. He now owes 25k. Even though it was a crime, she went to jail. It is still on his credit. We do not know her location, think she went back to Mexico. How do we resolve this?

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

      As much as we would like to help, we are not lawyers, and it sounds as if you and your boyfriend need one.

  • Kay

    I have paid off everything in my credit report and have not had late payments in over 6 months well today 4 accounts showed up from the same collection company for 1 hospital bill. This has set all my efforts back. They also started the date of the hospital bill which was 2.5 years ago as 4/1/2015 so basically the start the clock time is 2.5 years late.

    Is any of this even fair?

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

      Have you contacted the collection agency to find out why they are reporting four accounts for the same debt? Were they separate services or is there a duplication issue? That’s the first place I would start. (Keep good records of any conversations you have with them.)

      Also with regards to dates, when did you receive the service? Is there an original date of delinquency listed for these accounts that is based on that date? We talked about these dates in this article:
      The Most Important Dates on Your Credit Report

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

    Lola – Can you please explain exactly what happened? I am afraid I am having trouble understanding exactly what you are asking.

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

    Actually, collection accounts may be reported for seven years +180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor (the original date of delinquency). If the creditor is reporting the debt is a charge-off, then that charge-off can be reported for seven years from the date it was charged-off.

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

    Talk with your loan officer. Since you have a loan on the line here, you need to work closely with them to try to resolve this. Read this article as well:How a Credit Report Dispute Could Stop You From Buying a Home

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

    Was this a consumer debt or business debt? If the former you may want to see if the CFPB can help, though I suspect you are gong to have to talk with an attorney unfortunately.

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

    I don’t know the answer unfortunately. It may depend on the terms of the contract and/or state law. It is also possible they calculated it incorrectly. But to get a definitive answer you’ll either need to talk with your state attorney general’s office, a consumer law attorney, or try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • michelle

    I went to school in Florida and was supposed to receive in state tuition. 3 years later I pull up my credit report and it shows I owe them 8,000 dollars. Is this considered a student loan and I am forced to pay them? Or will it eventually go away? It is the only negative thing on my credit report but the school won’t work with me and says I owe them that amount. I don’t want to pay it on principle because I feel they are strong arming me into paying something I don’t feel I owe.

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

      Michelle – It’s really hard to say. Is it possible you were billed for other costs you weren’t aware of? Or were they saying you didn’t qualify for in-state tuition? Did you get bills when you were at school or after? I’d suggest you start by going to the website of the National Student Loan Data System to find out if it lists student loans there. (Most federal loans are in there.)

      I am truthfully not sure how to advise you because I don’t know what this is for and what your rights are to dispute it. You may need to talk with a student loan lawyer who can help you understand your rights. There is a directory of them at TheStudentLoanLawyer.com.

  • Sensia

    Here is what many debt collection agencies are doing, they will take an old debt that has long expired after the 7 or 10 year mark and then change the original date of debt and place it back on your credit report. This is a constant game and is infuriating. This legally should not be allowed to happen. Also, do not make ANY payments or even acknowledge a debt by any debt collection agency especially if you are close to it dropping off your credit report due to the statute of limitations. If you pay anything, acknowledge the debt in any way they restart the clock on that old debt. The author of this article should make that clear.

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

    Maryland is one of only a handful of states where verbal acknowledgment of a debt can, in some instances, can reset the SOL to be sued.

    I would encourage you to speak with an experienced debt collection defense attorney in Maryland about your situation and where you can go from here.

    It would be really helpful to know the name of the debt collection agency. Please post a reply with that information.

    • Cres

      The agency is First Credit Services. They have started to call my work number as well. I had asked them to place it on their do not call list, but the gentlemen that call seem like they could care less and continue to anyway.

      As for resting the SOL. Reading the state statutes, specifically 5-101 & 5-102, I cant find a provision that states recognizing the debt through verbal acknowledgement would reset, only that a payment would.

      “b. A payment of principal or interest on a specialty suspends
      the operation of this section as to the specialty for three years after
      the date of payment”


  • Jenn

    I am trying to negotiate with each collection company for the balance due on my account. I have sent certified letters to each agency asking for the removal of the negative reporting in return for a 100% payment of the balance that is due. The response that I keep getting is that it is against their policy or that after I pay in full then they will remove it. How can I ensure the entire “Removal” of this negative reporting in a way that is acceptable to them? I want some sort of guarantee that this is going to happen once the balance is paid. I am not looking for a credit reporting of “paid in full”, “satisfied”, or “settled”……. I want it completely removed.

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

      Jenn —
      Companies are not obligated to remove an accurate entry, and some, by policy, will not, even if it is 100% paid. In the cases of those that say they will remove it if you pay in full, get that agreement in writing. Of the ones that will not, you will have to wait until it falls off your credit report (7.5 years after account went delinquent). Good news here is that its influence diminishes with age, and positive information on your credit reports can help reduce the impact even more.

  • http://blog.credit.com/ Kali Geldis

    If the debt collector is trying to collect on a debt that you don’t recognize, or you think the amount is wrong, or you think it’s too old, ask them to validate the debt. You have the right to do so under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

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

    The bank has the right to close the account for any reason so I am not sure there is a lot you can do here besides trying to appeal to someone higher up. Can he get another credit card or personal loan to pay this off?

    • jc

      Yes would that help his credit score to have he closed account paid off?

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

        It may. A closed account with a balance may be viewed negatively.

  • K. Rhodes

    I see this thread is over a year old, but maybe someone will see this. I have a handful of old charge offs (3-6 years old) that I’ve been trying to resolve unsuccessfully for the last year because of this business of selling debt accounts and the horribly unethical practices they employ. I got my credit reports, identified the collectors (Pinnacle, Helvey, and Halsted), and made payments to each online. They each happily took my money but never reported the payments to my credit report nor sent me any confirmation of payment. Each continues to send me standard notices in the mail that claim I’ve never responded to their letters, never made a payment, and threaten this and that action, etc. One (Halsted) got me on the phone and when I faxed them proof of a payment they accused me of doctoring my bank statement. I am disputing these debts with all three agencies already, but this has really got me pissed off. If they were the least bit competent, the late accounts would already be paid. Instead, they continue to report no payment and escalating delinquencies to the bureaus. At this point, They are preventing me from buying a house and making my financial life miserable by artificially deflating my FICO scores.

    What do you suggest I do going forward? I have already reported them to the BBB but surely I have more than just a right to complain or dispute? Ideally, I’d like to nail these jerks to the wall and get these debts removed from my credit reports.

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

      It sounds like you have proof of the payment and they are ignoring that. My suggestion is that you speak with a consumer law attorney who is familiar with the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you need help finding one, you can visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. If it turns out the collection agency is breaking the law the attorney may help you for free because the collector would have to pay the attorneys fees.

      If for some reason the attorney says you don’t have a good case then you can always try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • john sanchez

    What do i need to prove in court if i have no letters on paying a past due car loan bill and the statues of limation has past it was for a volunteery repo i gave the car back its almost 4 years now but in case they come after me thank you thank you gerri

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

      John, I’m not sure I fully understand your question but it sounds like you had a car that was repossessed, you paid the balance, and now you’re worried about getting sued. Is that right? Have they contacted you? If they do, and they do try to sue you, you may still have a defense against the debt because they would have to prove that you owe it. So it sounds like this might be a case of crossing that bridge when you come to it. If I misunderstood, let me know.

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

    When did you pay it off? In 2006? If so there is no reason it should be on your credit reports. You can either file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or contact a consumer law attorney who handles credit reporting cases. You may have a case for credit damage.

  • Holly

    I have an interesting situation.. My husband signed up for a store account in my name a few years back…Fast forward to today and it is maxed out at 5,000 with 30% interest. My question is, if I call the company and tell them I didn’t sign up for the account do I have to provide my husband’s information or press charges (which I don’t wanna do) in order for them write off the amount? A side note we have been making payments the whole time and likely paid off the merchandise we bought, but at 30% interest have never been able to make up any ground.

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

      Holly —
      Signing up for an account in your name without your knowledge or permission is identity theft. And it’s a particularly thorny situation when the thief is a loved one. We have written about it here:
      When Your Identity Thief Is… Mom

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

    Are you sure the letter you received is a legitimate attempt to collect a debt (and not a scam)? If it checks out and it’s not a very old debt (outside the statute of limitations) then you may want to consider resolving it before it is reported. Not all creditors or collectors report to the credit bureaus.

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

    How recently did you pay? If it has been recent, it’s possible that your record hasn’t yet been updated — that the creditor hasn’t yet reported it to the credit bureau. If that’s not the case, you can dispute it. Here’s how: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

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

    Amanda —
    It might mean that there is a mistake in your credit report. And you can dispute that. Here’s how: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes. Also, it’s smart to check all three of your credit reports, because the credit bureaus do not share information. You might have to dispute it with others. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

    If you find you’ve been scammed, you can report it to your state attorney general’s office or to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    Paying off your secured card every month, and keeping the balance below 30% of your limit (below 10% is ideal) is the best way to begin improving your scores. Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.

    Good luck to you, and let us know if we can help further.

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

    It should be gone within a month or two at the longest.

  • Shanna J

    Hello! In 2010, I visited family in NJ. I’m from Georgia. When I checked my credit report last year in June/July, I saw an account from PSE&G, a utility company that is only up north on my credit report. I called them and got the address and date the account was opened. It was an address I’d never heard of and it just so happened that I was incarcerated due to probation violation when the account was opened. I asked the rep what info was used to open the account and was told only my SS and birth date along with the address was used. That’s not how utilities are opened where I’m from. You have to provide identification and a lease. I disputed the charges due to identity theft and sent court documents and documents from the jail to experian. That only ended in PSEG sending a letter saying they couldn’t fully investigate the matter and now they’re sending the bill to Georgia, which Im pretty sure they’ve been sending it to whatever address they had on file in NJ. I was told that they would send a fraud packet for me to fill out but it’s been months and every time I call I get the run around. I think they know they messed up and are just holding me responsible because they need someone to blame. What can I do? I’ve never had an apartment nor utilities before and now I can’t get either with an open utility collection account. Experian is no help because every time I’ve disputed it, they tell me that PSEG has verified the account, even though we know there’s no way I could’ve opened that account and I’ve sent proof numerous times.

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

      First you must dispute it with the credit reporting agencies to protect your rights. I suggest you do so in writing via certified mail. If that doesn’t work, then either contact a consumer law attorney (you may have a case for credit damage) or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We wrote about how to dispute a credit mistake here: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

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

    Unfortunately paying off a collection account does not remove it from your credit reports. These accounts may still be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. (The original date of delinquency.)

    However, if the balance still incorrect after you’ve paid it off (give it 30-60 days to update) you can dispute it with the credit reporting agencies that have the wrong information. If it is not confirmed it must be removed. Please read:

    How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?

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

    Talk to your loan officer asap. Be careful about disputing it:
    How a Credit Report Dispute Could Stop You From Buying a Home

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

    It is hard to know which. But be sure you are talking to a legitimate agency and not a scammer. If/when you pay, you at least want it properly credited. But talking with a bankruptcy attorney is a good idea.
    This post might be useful to you:
    The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors

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

    It can’t hurt to talk with a bankruptcy attorney to explore your options. In many cases, the first consultation is free.

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

    We have written a couple of articles that I think can help. Let me know if they answer your questions: What Happens If I Never Pay an Old Debt? and Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

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

    That certainly does happen and we wrote about it in the article referenced below. As to your situation with the water bill, if you don’t believe you owe did then you would certainly want to dispute it. Since the company is no longer in business the most likely scenario is that they will not respond to the dispute and it will be removed. Please make sure you keep good records of this, because if that balance winds up with the collection agency you will want to have proof that you previously had it removed. Also, if you are in the process of getting a mortgage or plan to get one very soon, then proceed with caution. Open disputes on credit reports can hold up mortgages.

    Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage

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

    The collection agency does not have to remove it in exchange for payment, and in fact they really aren’t supposed to do that under their agreements with the credit reporting agencies. However, there are a couple of things to consider here. The first is how old is the debt that led to this collection account? Collection accounts may be reported for seven years +180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor leading up to when it was placed for collection. If this is too old, then you certainly could get it removed. The other option is to wait a few months and then if there is anything inaccurate or incomplete about that collection account as it is listed on your credit report you can dispute it. If the collection agency does not confirm it it will be removed, and sometimes they don’t bother with these older paid accounts.

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

    First, the bad news. Collection agencies can add interest — lots of it. We wrote about it in Can a Debt Collector Double My Debt? The better news is that same post contains advice on what to do if it happens to you. Another idea is to submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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

    Shaun —
    Do you know what your contract says? In many cases, cellphone service providers give you 30 days to return the phones and stop the service without a penalty (that way you can see if the service works where and when you’ll use it). The “free” phones are subsidized by the monthly contract rate. And unfortunately, the better your credit is, the more a credit misstep will be. There is always a chance you can negotiate for a lower bill, and it never hurts to ask. You should also check your free annual credit reports and your free credit score so that you can be aware of how this is being reported and how it affects your credit profile.

    • Shaun

      Thank you for the reply.

      Unfortunately for me I’m way past the 30 days. I was getting close to the end of my contract, I was getting fed up with all the drop calls and zero Internet connection and wanted out. The problem is if I was informed with the correct price ($639) I would have waited until my contract was up. I was told it would only be $200 to cancel. The phone company was looking into the phone conversation to see if the costumer rep. gave me the correct information. I was never contacted with the out come and my bill was sent to collections. The phone bill was under my wife’s name. Is that only going to effect her credit? I checked my credit with the link you provided. My score is 815. Is there any way to calculate how many points I could lose?

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

        If the bill was only in her name then it should only affect her credit. Unfortunately I can’t calculate how much it will cost her in terms of points, but it will probably be substantial at least in the beginning. Over time, if she has nothing else negative on her reports then that isolated incident probably won’t carry as much weight depending on which scoring model is being used.

        Did you document all the problems you are having with this company? If so it might still make sense to try to fight it by complaining to every agency you can think of.

  • Priscilla

    Elan will definitely approve you for a secured card

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

    Was the lawsuit against you dismissed with or without prejudice? If it was dismissed with prejudice it is done forever. If it was dismissed without prejudice then it may be tried again. If the former ,you can simply send a certified letter to the second collection agency and ask them not to contact you again. If they contact you again they may be breaking the law. (I also don’t understand what you mean by you having a judgment against them. Did you countersue them?)

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

    We have written two articles that I think will help you: Will Settling a Collection Account Hurt My Credit? and The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit. Would you mind reading those first and then if you still have questions, let us know?

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

    Ellen – They aren’t required to validate the debt with you before they turn it over to collections. However, once you hear from the collection agency you can immediately dispute it in writing. When did you first hear from the collector? Did you do that?

    As for dates, it depends on what date you are talking about. The report may list a date of last activity or date placed for collection but those dates don’t affect how long the account may be reported.

    What are the circumstances behind this? Perhaps with a little more information I can try to point you in the right direction.

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

    Cable bills don’t typically appear on credit reports until they wind up in collections. You can contact the collection agency and request they verify the debt. I am not clear from your question whether you believe the debt is valid or not…?

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

    That’s not correct. It should list the original date of delinquency – the date you first fell behind with the original creditor – accurately and that date starts the reporting period of 7 years + 6 months. (Don’t worry about date of last activity which should have nothing to do with how long it is reported.) If the original date of delinquency is wrong or not clear, dispute it with the credit reporting agency in writing first. More information on credit report disputes can be found here: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

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

    I am surprised you can’t get a secured card. Why are they turning you down?

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

    It may. Proceed with caution. You may want to get advice from the Texas Consumer Complaint Center.

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

    Got it. Will you let me know what happens?

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

    I think that’s smart, however it’s possible they use an offsite billing department. But see where you can get with them.

    Put your dispute to the collection agency in writing via certified mail to protect your rights. Same thing with your credit reports. To protect your rights your best bet is to send a written dispute to each bureau by a method that includes proof of delivery.

    Let me know what happens!

    PS: Still not sure when this all happened – what year?

    • Jackie

      Sept/Oct 2008

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

        It sounds like the statute of limitations will expire this fall (that’s according to my sources but I am not an attorney so please don’t take it as legal advice). Also the debt should come off your credit reports around March 2016. So I guess at this point you have to make a choice about whether you want to try to fight it or wait it out…

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

    The statute of limitations typically starts when you make your last payment. If you didn’t make any payment then it would be from when the payment was due that you missed.

    If you provided the medical provider with her Medicaid information and they incorrectly documented it (and did not bill) then you need to take it up with them.

    You really need to try to get the medical provider to pull it back from collections due to their error as I mentioned in the article above. My concern is that it will be your word against theirs and they aren’t going to want to acknowledge their mistake. If they refuse, you may have to file complaints everywhere you can and think of (BBB, CFPB, state attorney general).

    However, I also recommend you dispute the account in writing with the collection agency. Explain that you provided her Medicaid information and they did not properly bill it.

    When did she see this medical provider and what state do you live in?

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

    This is not an easy situation to resolve since the utility is alleging you never closed the account and unless you have proof you did, it’s going to be tough to prove your side of the story. Are the people who took it over willing to write a letter accepting responsibility? That might get you off the hook.

    In addition, you have the right to dispute a collection account. Do so in writing and send it certified mail. You can state that you closed the account on XX date and that the debt is not yours. In addition, you may want to file a complaint with the utility commission that regulates those utilities.

  • austin

    I had a medical bill go into collections. After settling and agreeing with the collection company on a pay for delete the item was removed. Now the debt has reappeared through a different collection company. What can I do?

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

      Have you contacted the new collection agency to find out what happened? Was it an error? Or did the first one sell the “balance” to the second? I think you need more information.

  • Jackie

    I have 3 medical collections being collected from the same CA totalling $797. One of the collections was for my minor daughter who had insurance at the time. I picked up the files from the hospital and it shows “no insurance” on her file. I contacted medicaid and they sent me proof of her eligibility for that time period. Would disputing this with the proof be enough to get it removed? Also, the SOL for collecting will be up in October of this year. I want to settle for a lesser amount, but they informed me they would not delete unless paid in full. Is it possible to settle for a lower amount outside SOL and have it marked as paid??

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

      Unfortunately the “no insurance” issue should have been handled closer to the time the services were rendered. Of course that isn’t always easy to catch – especially if you didn’t know you were going to get billed by that provider. But for future reference, if you see a medical provider and don’t get an Explanation of Benefits from your insurance company or a bill from the provider you want to find out why.

      If the provider was in your insurance network and you did provide them with your insurance info and they failed to bill it then they are likely in the wrong. Have you talked to them about pulling it back from collections? We wrote about that here:

      Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

      Having said that, you can try to dispute it with the collection agency but it’s going to be tough to prove that you were in the right (for the reasons I just described).

      The collection agency is not required to remove an account in exchange for payment. In fact, they really aren’t supposed to do that under their contracts with the credit reporting agencies. So it’s always a bit of gamble.

      I can’t tell you which route to go – it’s really going to be your call based on your finances and your situation. But I certainly wouldn’t agree to pay and extend the statute of limitations (or even concede that I owe the debt) without some guarantee in writing this will be removed. And remember it comes off your credit report 7.5 years from the date with the original provider was missed, regardless of whether it is paid, unpaid or settled.

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

    You sent the letters to the collection agencies? I would suggest you dispute the accounts directly with the credit reporting agencies that list those accounts. If the collection agencies don’t respond to the credit reporting agencies, the accounts will be removed. More information here: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

    Or you could contact a consumer law attorney and/or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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

    Paying a collector in full will not erase the negative from the original creditor (when the bill first was late), so it will not be as if the bill never existed. You can find more information here: Will Settling a Collection Account Hurt My Credit?

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

    Have you checked your credit reports to make sure it’s not reported on your credit? Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

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

    Your father is right that “pay for delete” is not permitted per the collection agencies’ agreement with the credit reporting agency. That’s not to say it never happens.

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

    It sure does sound shady! You have two options. One is to contact a consumer law attorney to find out if they have broken the law. The other is to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If I were in your shoes, I’d probably start with the attorney and if they can’t help, contact the CFPB.

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

    First, we’re not lawyers and can’t give you legal advice . . . That said, the letter you received should be sufficient proof that the debt will be removed. (Often people who are in debt seek letters such as yours before sending payment to be sure that paying it will indeed result in the negative item being removed.) Given that they have committed themselves in writing to taking the item off your report and confirming it with you, it seems almost certain that paying the debt will help your credit.)

  • nicole

    Just had an old medical bill that was already reported on my credit by a collection agency show up on my report again and it lowered score 40 points. Apparently they sold to a new agency but now it is hitting me again and it also shows a newer date which I know the original debt was from years ago.can they do thia? Can they dock u twice?

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

      It shouldn’t happen, but it often does. This Credit.com post addresses the situation and what you can do about it:

      Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage

      Hope these tips can help you get it cleared up.

  • John

    Last month I challenged an item on my credit report from Affiliated Acceptance Co which is a Billing/Collection co for health clubs and gyms. There was an item open for $180 listed under collections on my credit report from early 2009 slated for removal in 2016. Anyways, I received a resolution summary from Transunion that only stated “new information” yesterday without explaining what the new info is. Today I checked my info on credit karma to see if there was any clarity. It shows up on credit karma as a newer item, “reported April 30,2014, missed 1 payment, opened Feb 17, 2009”. My score actually went up by12 points. The debt is actually valid. My question is, should I just pay the $180 now to clear it up? Or is my contact with them going to reopen the many months of col or missed payments?

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

      I am a bit confused by your question. With a collection account paying it doesn’t generally help your scores. The only risk in not paying is that you could be sued or that it could be sold to another collection agency which could start a new collection account (which would affect your scores then).

      Hopefully this article will answer your question:
      Link text

  • Ashley

    I am helping my husband clean up his credit. All the accounts are with collection agencies for unpaid medical bills. One agency has three accounts. The original debt is about $3800. They said they can either settle for a lower amount and report it as paid in full. OR we pay $5K and they will have it deleted off his credit completely. Also, the debt is from 2008 and should fall off in about a year and a half. What do you recommend? Also, they claim that once it has been deleted the credit should rise about 20 points for each deleted account. Is this true?

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

      Ashley – Skilled and compliant debt collectors do not discuss your credit score impacts from settling or paying the debt.

      With as many collection scams as there are out there, it can pay (literally) to be certain you are dealing with the right collection agency or debt owner. What is the name of the collection outfit you are dealing with? What state are you in?

      • Ashley

        California and they are called Metro Republic. They are listed on my credit report as the company who is holding the debt. Also, two of the debts say they are closed. What does that mean? He told me that if i pay by tomorrow (last day of the month) that they will delete and that i can even go to their office and pick up a signed letter stating that they are going to delete it off the credit completely. They are listen on the BBB and have a A+ rating since opening in 1980

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

          Ashley – what state are you in?

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

          If the collector is legitimate (aside from the credit score references being more than just questionable), and you agree and pay, what do you get?

          Are you trying to get a mortgage, or refinance?
          Are you looking for an auto loan in the next 18 months? What are your families credit goals in the near future?

          The debt in California is passed the SOL to legitimately sue (4 years), in order to collect from you. About the only leverage the debt collector has is your credit, and he may have made a serious error in the way he used that leverage.

          I do have additional feedback, but will wait to hear back about your credit goals.

          • Ashley

            The bills are all medical from when my husband was young. We want to buy a new car and recreational toys with a good interest rate as well as purchase a home in he next 1-2 years. So building credit up is now a huge priority.

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

            If your goals are set to, or can be postponed several months, and be consistent with the time frame that these fall of the credit report, consider waiting.

            If you are going to be financing large dollar purchases sooner, I would try to get the debt removed.

            Because of the credit report and score carrot/stick angle this debt collector used, it would not hurt to talk to an experienced consumer collections law attorney about how you might be able to view that as you go about accomplishing your goals.

  • Adam Malik

    hello, i defaulted on a loan, the loan was then sold to an debt recovery agency, i paid them in full 3 years ago, a week ago i went on my credit file, and the debt recovery company have not updated my file, they stated 3 years ago that they would. my credit file states that i am still in-default. I contacted them and they said its not there problem as its the original lenders problem to update it. i called them and they said they sold it on to the debt recovery company they are also unaware of any payments made, they also told me that the debt recovery company should update the file, what should i do?

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

      What do you mean by debt recovery agency? Can you be more specific? How is it listed on your credit reports?

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

    As to the first question, I would suggest you contact the creditor, explain what happened and ask them to make sure the debt is pulled back from collections. If you paid the original creditor in full they should be willing to do this for you. If they won’t, file a complaint against both the provider and the collection agency with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    As for the second instance, it is very unusual for a creditor to remove a charge off just because you paid it. In fact, they are not supposed to do “pay for delete” deals under their contracts with the credit reporting agencies.

    You can’t always change the past but you can pay on time going forward and over time the old information will carry less weight when your credit scores are calculated.

  • Anton piotrowski

    I have been paying my monthly payment but as my account is in recovery department it is still giving me a default on my credit history I have paid on time for last two years and still it’s a default what can I do

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

      Unfortunately it will continue to be reported that way unless you can bring it current – unless they are willing to work with you and report it as current. I’d encourage you to ask.

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

    The date of last activity is not the date that affects when it comes off the report. It’s the date of first delinquency – the date the bill was due with the original creditor that he missed – that matters. The collection agency should report that, though how it appears on the report depends on how it is reported. Here’s an example of how Experian reports it.

    The consumer probably knows when this all took place and has at least a rough idea of when that time period started. He should try to match it up with what’s on his credit reports, and if it is not clear that it is being accurately reported, contact the credit reporting agencies for clarification.

    Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

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

    It depends on what kind of a rush you are in. If there is a loan you are trying to qualify for, then it may make sense to file your own dispute. Otherwise, perhaps just wait until it gets updated.

  • Musci1

    I paid a bill that was in collection a few years ago (paid in full) NOW the dentist office that put me in collection is telling me I need to pay THEM now for the same bill? Is this legal?

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

      You should not have to pay for the same servicesl twice. Do you have anything documenting your having paid this bill already? If the office continues to insist that you owe for a debt you have already satisfied, you may want to get in touch with a consumer law attorney.

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

    If you file a written dispute they must respond and make the correction within 30 days, not 60. That sounds like a serious mistake, though, so follow up in writing and keep copies of everything, including a copy of the credit report with the error.
    A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

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

    First, ask the collector some questions. By law, they must verify the debt (this will be done via postal mail).
    It’s also smart to understand the statute of limitations that applies to your debt. These state laws give creditors and collectors a certain number of years to successfully sue. If they try to take you to court after that time period, that may be illegal.
    Here are a couple of resources about debt collections that may be useful to you:
    The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collections
    The Dos and Don’ts of Paying a Debt Collector
    Above all, stay calm and don’t pay or agree to pay a debt you don’t believe you owe.

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

    Unfortunately if the information is accurate it can be reported for approximately seven and a half years. They aren’t under any obligation to remove them unless the information is inaccurate. It is a big problem, but I don’t have an easy solution to offer you. I wrote more about there here:

    Could A Medical Collection Account Keep You From Getting A Mortgage?

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

    You’ll need to get credit reports from each of the three credit reporting agencies and dispute the information with each of them. Credit.com has some resources that may be useful to you in doing so:
    How to Get Your Free Annual Credit Report
    How to Read Your Credit Reports
    How Do Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?

    Good luck to you in getting this resolved quickly.

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

    Probably not but it may depend on state law. That technique is usually used to settle debts for less than the full balance, but some courts have found the practice puts the creditor at an unfair disadvantage. Plus, even if they do cash it and they don’t delete it, I have a hard time seeing how you are going to get the credit reporting agency to change it based on this technique.

  • Lori K Logan

    I had a small claims case in October dismissed w prejudice over a collections debt for a credit card because they had no paperwork or signature for evidence. I got the negative item deleted off all three credit reports after the court case was dismissed. The same collection agency is still checking my credit report twice now. Is this legal and if so why are they doing this?

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

      The short answer is we don’t know why they are checking your credit or whether it is legal. It would be a good idea to check with your state attorney general’s office to find out if it’s legal, and we recommend submitting a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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

    If you can get the medical providers to pull the accounts back from collections, that is your very best solution. Failing that, yes, you should definitely get a letter from them agreeing not to report it. And make sure you keep copies of all correspondence and all documents pertaining to the payment of these bills.

    It’s a good idea to keep tabs in your credit scores. You can get a free look at two of them on Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card. It sounds as if you’re checking credit reports, and that’s a good thing.

    If you find that there are mistakes, you can dispute them. These resources may be useful to you:
    A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes
    The Ultimate Guide to Solving Your Medical Bill Problems
    Is It Ever Too Late to Negotiate a Medical Bill?

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

    Technically it is 7 years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor, leading up to the account being placed for collection. The date of last activity (DLA) is not necessarily relevant.

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

    That is a myth unfortunately. Please read this article: Four Medical Bill Myths That Can Cost You Dearly

  • Tracy

    I’m trying to help my sister with an old credit card debt – last activity was 12/2006 so it is beyond the 6yr statute of limits in TN. Is there any way to do a settlement without opening up without restarting the statue?

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

      Tracy – Yes there is. Are you negotiating on her behalf with written authorization?

      Is there a specific credit report concern that has prompted her to want/need to settle at such a late stage of collection?

  • john

    I just got contacted by a collection agency for a bill I didn’t pay back in 1992.. Can this still
    adversely effect my credit score if the Statute of Limitations has expired?

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

    Ask the school if they can pull it back from collections so you can pay them. If they can do that, then it may be possible to get the collection account off your credit reports. If not, then it doesn’t really matter – though some people feel more comfortable paying the original creditor. Whatever you end up doing, make sure you keep written proof that the debt was paid and put it somewhere where you can find it for a very long time.

    And unless they pull it back from collections (which may result in it falling off your credit), collection accounts are reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor.

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

    Hi Tony – Yes, it may be reported by the new company but that doesn’t reset the clock. The collection account may only be reported seven years + 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. That date carries over to all reporting of this debt. After that time period no one can report it. (The only exception would be if they sued you and got a court judgment which would have its own reporting period.) Since you say it is an old debt, make sure you understand the statute of limitations. I wrote more about this here:

    Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

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

    That is correct. (7 years + 180 days from the date you fell behind with the original creditor – the hospital or medical provider.) However if you are sued for any of these debts and they get a judgment against you, that judgment will start a new reporting period. In addition, you may receive 1099-Cs reporting unpaid debt as cancelled income. What is a 1099-C? Your Top 11 Questions Answered

  • raj

    Hi, I have couple bills that are in collection center for 2-3 years but i have been paying 10-15 dollar per month, does 5 year of statue of limitation (idaho) still holds? Does it kick in when i am not paying for 5 years or it is still valid even if i am paying small amounts? Thanks!

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

      Hi Raj —
      The statute of limitations typically applies to the time since the last payment was made (not the time when the debt was incurred). You can read more about that here: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?. Hope that’s useful to you.

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

    Amber – if you were late then those late payments will be reported for seven years. But if the lender misapplied some of your payments those specific mistakes should not be on your credit. I’d suggest you read:
    A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

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

    Were you both on the written lease? I am not an attorney but from my understanding you are fully responsible if you signed the lease. The collection agency isn’t under an obligation to agree to do pay for delete deals; in fact, they really aren’t supposed to do them under their terms of their agreement with the credit reporting agencies. As far as your roommate goes, you’ll need to get advice from an attorney but my guess taking her to small claims court would be the way to go. I apologize if I didn’t understand the situation fully, but when you cosign a lease or any kind of debt you agree to be fully liable for the debt.

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

    Elaine – i am not sure I understand the situation. Did you stop paying in Oct 2013 when you still had an outstanding bill? If so, then it was probably within their rights to send it to collections. Please let me know if I misunderstood.

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

    Don’t pay until you get something in writing that it will be removed. Once you’ve paid it you have lost your leverage. Did they clearly make a mistake on the address? If so, then tell them they need to pull it back from collection and let you pay them directly – or you will contact a consumer law attorney about a credit damage case.

    Or just contact a consumer law attorney!

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


    I need to understand what happened here. Did you dispute it and it was removed, then later the same account reappeared?

    Or did it just disappear then a new account for the same debt was reported?

    When did you first fall behind with the original creditor?

    • Bethany

      It just disappeared. I did not dispute it. Then it reappeared with the same collection agency. I believe it was sometime in 2009 that I fell behind. The account was opened by the collection agency in 2010.

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

    Not sure I understand your question. Could you explain a little more?

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

    The length of time this account can remain on your credit report is different than the statute of limitations. Collection accounts may be recorded for 7 and a half years from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. Whether or not you pay it won’t change that.

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

    If you owe a legitimate debt, it really does not go away, even after it expires off of your credit report. How long ago was it that you last made a payment on this debt?

    PRA would not necessarily have to update the credit reports as a result of acquiring another company.

    What is your goal for this account?

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

    Unfortunately, as an adult she was probably legally responsible for those bills. Paying collections doesn’t remove them from credit reports. However, she may try disputing them on her credit reports. If they are not confirmed, they may be removed.

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

    As far as the hospital collection accounts go, it sounds like you are doing what you can at the moment. if the bills are consolidated into one it will reduce the number of collection accounts so that may help.

    As for the loan mod, if you completed a modification under the Home Affordable Loan Modification program, then our understanding is that your report should not be adversely affected now that you are in permanent modification status. (That is not necessarily true if you completed a non-HAMP loan mod, since those aren’t regulated the same way.) If that’s the case, and it’s been months since you completed it, I’d suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They will likely contact the bank to get a response – and maybe then you can get it corrected.

    Good luck and please keep us posted!

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

    Yikes! It’s not good. That increases the number of collection accounts. Any clue why they did that??

  • Pingback: Credit Risk: What Really Influences a Credit Score? | BIIA.com()

  • lee1974

    I have an old medical bill that went into collections. This account has been sold and moved around a few times. I discovered that every time a new company buys this account they add it to my credit report. I currently have the same bill on my credit report from 3 different companies. So now instead of owing $3000 it now appears that I owe $9000. Is there a way to fix this?

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

      Yes Lee. First of all – how old is it? When was the bill due to the medical provider? Collection accounts may only be reported for 7 years and 180 days from the date the payment was due to the original creditor. That’s true regardless of whether it was paid or not. So if debt is older than 7.5 years it shouldn’t be on your credit reports at all.

      Secondly, if it is not that old, then you can dispute all but the most recent collection account. On your dispute, note that this is a duplicate entry for the same debt. You’ll learn more about this in these posts:

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

      Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage

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

    Actually, paying down your credit card balances DOES help when it comes to your credit scores.

    Rather than charging large lump sums and then paying them off, aim to manage the account and pay off the balance in full at the end of each billing cycle. This not only helps your credit scores, it keeps you from paying interest on the debt. The key is paying the balance before the grace period.

    As far as the revolving utilization percentage goes, you may hear many experts provide specific percentages (which is probably where you’re getting the 30% from), but the real answer here is “the lower your revolving utilization percentage, the higher your credit score.” Nothing magical happens at 30%, and 25% is better than 30%, 20% is better than 25%, etc. Bottom line: the lower your revolving utilization, the higher your score. And paying off your credit card balances DOES actually help in two ways:

    1) It helps your revolving utilization percentage.
    2) Another smaller factor in the debt category is the number of accounts with balances. While not as significant as the first, the fewer accounts with balances, the better for your score.

    For more on how credit scores are calculated and what’s used to determine your score, the following resources can help:

    The 5 Things That Affect Your Credit Score
    The Ultimate Guide to Credit Scores

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

    Darlene — Unfortunately, the Medical Debt Responsibility Act of 2011 fell flat and wasn’t passed. The original bill would have required any medical collections under $2,500 that had been paid or settled to be removed from your credit reports within 45 days, rather than waiting the 7 years that’s currently in place. All hope isn’t lost on this front, however, as new legislation has recently been introduced:

    In April, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), introduced HR 1767 – the Medical Debt Responsibility Act of 2013.

    Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) also introduced S. 2149 — the Medical Debt Responsibility Act of 2012…

    Credit.com has covered this issue extensively but for more info, here are the highlights:

    Why Medical Debt Reform Could Actually Happen Now
    Proposed Law Could Help Millions Facing Medical Debt
    The Shocking Cost of Medical Collection Accounts on Your Credit Reports
    Time for a Fair Medical Billing Act
    Medical Debt Relief Act: Why I’d Vote For It

  • Pingback: CFPB Now Taking Complaints About Debt Collectors | Best Credit Repair()

  • Nicole

    I was in the hospital in March of 2012. From that stay I had accrued a lot of debt with multiple accounts, and several (3) accounts were placed in collections. I had tried the best I could to keep up with all the other accounts but once something was put into collections I just turned the blind eye. I recently checked my 3 credit scores from my yearly free report, and these 3 past due accounts did not show up anywhere on my report. I have been told by multiple people that I should just let them go and not pay because once I do pay on these accounts, they will then be reported to my credit. Is this true? I know that the damage has been done, but is that necessarily true if, over a year later, they still are not showing up on my credit? And since they are not showing on my credit, does that mean that once I pay they will then show up? Thanks in advance.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Whether or not you pay these accounts has nothing to do with whether they will appear on your credit reports. If those collection agencies report, they can report them at any time, and making a payment shouldn’t trigger them to report. (I can’t guarantee anything of course!) You may also want to read this article about collection accounts on credit reports: The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit

      It doesn’t sound like these debts are that old. That means that if you don’t pay them it is possible you could be sued. If you believe they are correct and can afford to pay them, it makes sense to go ahead and do so. If you can’t pay the full amount you may want to see if you can negotiate a settlement. (Get any deal in writing first, before you pay.)

  • Pingback: New York: Great Pizza, Bagels & Debt Collection Laws? | DEBT RELIEF NEWS()

  • Scott D.

    In November 2012 I sold my house via a short sale. Except for that, I have never been late on a credit card or any other monthly payment. How long does it take to rebuild my credit and what’s the best way to do it? My score is around 580-640 depending on the credit reporting company. I recently started a job where my income will almost double and plan on paying the only credit card I have off. How can I get my higher income reported to the credit reporting agencies?

    • Credit.com

      Scott — As far as your credit scores go, foreclosures and short sales are both equally damaging so realistically, it’s going to take some time to recover and improve your scores. Credit scores place more emphasis on the most recent 24 months so with your short sale being so recent, it’s important to keep expectations in check and understand that it’s going to hurt for a while. The best thing you can do is to continue doing what you’re doing — paying your credit cards and other accounts on time, and paying down your credit card balances — 10% or less of the credit limit will earn you the most points in that category of your score. Other than that, it’s going to take some time — at least 24 months of positive credit patterns –before you’ll begin seeing any significant improvement and even then, it’ll be gradual.

      In regards to your income, trying to report your income to the credit reporting agencies won’t help because income isn’t reported in your credit reports. It’s a common misconception that credit reports and credit scores factor in income, but the truth is — they don’t. It doesn’t mean income isn’t important — lenders will consider your income before granting a loan, but as far as your credit reports and credit scores are concerned, income has no bearing on either.

      For more on short sales, how they impact your credit and how to recover afterwards, here are three resources that should help:

      1. Why are Short Sales So Bad for Your Credit?
      2. Credit Score Recovery Time from Foreclosures and Short Sales
      3. How Soon Can I Get a Mortgage After Credit Problems?

  • Stacey May

    I was wondering when negotiating a payoff or paying off a debt with a collection agency, can you ask them to remove the debt from your credit report? If so, how will this impact your credit score?

    • Michael Bovee

      Stacey – What you have described is commonly referred to as “pay for delete”. It is rarely something you will get a debt collector to agree to. In fact, requesting removal of a collection account can lead to more expense.

      Depending on the situation, a collection agency who is just an assignee of your original creditor will have no ability or influence over the negative reporting appearing on your credit. Take a credit card for example. Once the bank charges it off (usually 180 days on nonpayment), the damage is done. Creditors are not going to remove that. Asking the collection agency to remove it in return for payment is telegraphing you have need of an improved credit report either now,or in the near future. They will be less inclined to approve a lower settlement.

      The same thing goes if you are negotiating a payoff with a debt purchaser.

      The very limited instances I have seen a pay for delete approach work is with utility and small medical bills.

  • Stacey

    I was wondering in negotiating to pay off or paying off a debt in full to a collection agency, can you ask them to remove the debt after payment from your credit report? If so, how will this affect your credit score?

    • Michael Bovee

      Stacey – It is highly unlikely you will get a debt collection agency to agree to remove the negative item off of your credit report in return for partial or full payment. If the collection agency is just an assignee of your original lender, the agency is not normally the one responsible for the negative on your credit report. Getting your original lender to remove a negative item they are reporting in return for payment is just as unlikely.

      Is this a credit card debt?

  • http://none Wendy dorr

    Can anyone suggest a credit card for someone with a low credit score? I am looking for a credit card to start over, and I have a low credit score. thank you, Wendy

  • Laura

    I have an odd question. My husband and I had great credit until he had heart surgery a couple years ago, with a whole bunch of complications. He came through it, finally, but now is battling a Stage IV cancer diagnosis. I handle all our books. I have really been going thru a hard time, and just didn’t bother to pay our bills (except the mortgage, car, and utilities). By the way, we have excellent medical insurance, so we didn’t amass any big medical bills.

    That’s the basic background. Now, one by one, over the past year, I have contacted most of our credit card companies and paid/settled the accounts. There are exactly two accounts left.

    Both accounts, it turns out, are with a company called Asset Acceptance Corp. One of the accounts is in my husband’s name (about $4500), and one is in my name (about $4800). I have verified both accounts, but have not contacted them by phone yet.

    Here is my question: Should I try to discuss both accounts with them at the same time, or will the $9000+ total make matters worse? As I said before, my husband is battling stage 4 cancer, and he isn’t dealing with any of this – so I will be the one taking care of it.

    The other thing is, I can afford to send about $1500 per month. It’s a stretch, but I can do that much. How would you suggest I approach this? Try to negotiate, or see if they will accept $1500 per month on the whole balance? Or, should I settle mine and then call back to see if I get a different agent to settle the other one?

    Thanks for any suggestions you can offer. I really want to be rid of these!

    • Michael Bovee

      Laura – If it were me in your shoes, I would wait until I had about 40% of the balance saved up to offer in one lump sum payment to settle both of the debts. Based on what you shared, that could be 2 or so months away. Then call and negotiate the deal, making sure to get everything in writing before paying.

      I would only adjust this strategy if I received a collection letter, or call from an attorney collection agency, before I was ready to settle the debt.

      You could certainly do one debt at a time, but I would not set up payments, just lump sum settlements.

  • Jack Simpsn

    I have a debt to drivetyme and every two or three months they keep re-submitting my debt which causes my credit score to go down. Is this legal? Also, they keep listing the full amount I owe. Arent they supposed to take off what ever they got when they sold the car?

    • Hey Jack

      If they show it as a repo, it will go for the entire amount of the loan, b/c that is what you defaulted on. They will continue to report a regular schedule. Sub-prime lenders may only report quarterly instead of monthly.

      If you can find documents that prove the amount reported is inaccurate then you can dispute it on your report, but that doesn’t mean it will go away. It may just re-appear with the correct value.

      A situation like this will likely stick on your report for the next 7 years. You may try some “magic” credit repair tricks, but because this is likely a legitimate default it will remain.

      This is why people need to try to avoid repos and foreclosures at all costs.

      You may try to contact them and see if making any back payments might encourage them to remove it as goodwill movement because you paid.

      Other than that you can try to build your credit up with secure cards or wait until 7 years have passed. Just be careful that in attempting to raise you score by opening up credit accounts you aren’t putting yourself in a worse position b/c you can’t make the payments.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team