Do you have a collections account on your credit reports? You might be surprised to see it, but if you’ve fallen behind on payments on an account, the original creditor likely sent it to a debt collector. Annoyingly, these accounts stay on your credit report for around seven years.
If you’re wondering how to remove collection accounts from your credit reports, you’ll need a little information. That’s why we’re here! Find out more about how long these items stay on your report, and discover some tips on how to remove collection accounts off your credit report.
In This Article
Removing Collection Accounts in a Nutshell
Wondering how to remove collection accounts from your credit reports? You might have to challenge it. But challenging the accuracy of an item on your credit report is typically done for inaccurate information. So if the collection account on your report is correct, you might have to wait until the account falls off your report.
It Isn’t Always Easy
Before we delve into the nitty-gritty, we want to make sure you have realistic expectations. Sure, we have some tips that could help get some items removed. But it’s important to know that, under federal law, items can be reported for around seven years from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor.
The idea that you can get the collection agency to remove the account, if you pay what you owe, could be appealing. But it can be a tricky and long process. If you need to remove an inaccurate collections account from your credit report, you might want to turn to a credit repair agency. They’d provide you with experienced professionals to help you handle the entire process.
In the meantime, we have a few steps you can take to try to remove a collections account from your credit report.
1. Do Your Research
Keep track of your collection account by getting copies of all your credit reports. This lets you see what’s being reported by the three major credit bureaus—and how it impacts your score.
You can get a free credit report every year from each of the major credit reporting agencies. You can also sign up for a free credit report card at Credit.com, which gives insight into what affects your score. That helps you know if you can work on other factors while you’re working on getting paid collections removed from your report.
Once you get your hands on your credit report, make sure to check out the details of the account in question. Where is it from? When did you fall behind on payments? Is it actually accurate? When you have all the information you need, you can figure out your next move.
2. Choose a Plan of Action
You’ve checked your credit report and gathered all the details on that collections account. Now it’s time to decide what to do about it. Depending on your situation, you could have a couple of options:
If the collection is inaccurate, challenge the accuracy
A debt collection agency can’t report information that’s inaccurate or incomplete on your credit file. So if any of the information reported about a collection account is inaccurate or incomplete, you have the right to challenge that account with the agencies. They must verify the information with the source. The source has 30 days to investigate and confirm the information. The credit reporting agency should remove the inaccurate information if the creditor doesn’t confirm around 30-45 days.
If the collection or debt on your credit report isn’t yours, don’t pay it. Ask the credit bureau to remove it from your credit report using a dispute letter. If a collector keeps a debt on your credit report longer than seven years, you can dispute the debt and request it be removed. This is especially true if you have proof of the start of the delinquency.
Ask for goodwill deletions
If you have a great credit history, barring an isolated error or short series of late payments, you might consider writing a goodwill letter to the original creditor. Having paid the debt and proved that you’re not a risky borrower, your creditor might remove the negative items from your credit report out of goodwill.
Asking for a goodwill deletion or adjustment to your credit file may resonate better with creditors. Removing negative items from your reports because you paid may be against their rules, but a goodwill deletion might not be.
This strategy has more success than you might imagine, so if your credit history is promising, consider this option. Look online for successful goodwill letters to use as templates to expedite the process even further.
Can I have a paid collection removed from my credit report?
Here’s something you may or may not know: collections accounts stay on your credit report for around seven years even if you pay it. So if an account in collections is dragging down your score—even if it’s paid—you might consider steps to get it removed. Consumers sometimes ask collection agencies to remove collection accounts in exchange for payment. Sometimes collection agencies even make this kind of offer.
A collection agency might respond to this request by stating they are unable to remove the negative information. To a larger extent, that’s true. The credit reporting agencies sometimes prohibit this activity. Otherwise, collection accounts would be removed all the time, and credit reports would not accurately reflect the consumer’s creditworthiness.
However, some lenders can remove items or at least report them less negatively. If you negotiate this type of deal, ensure you have the agreement in writing so you have proof of what the collector agreed to do for you.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Wait
This might be the most unpopular option, but you could just wait until the collection account falls off your credit report or becomes less impactful. Remember, collection accounts can stay on your credit report for around seven years. If you’re coming to the end of that seven-year timeframe, you might already see your credit score improving a bit.
How Many Points Can My Credit Score Increase if a Collection Is Deleted?
If you manage to get a collection account removed, depending on many factors, your score could go up. Late payments and collections account for 35% of your score, so collection accounts could be dragging your score down 100 or more points, depending on what else is on your report.
Unfortunately, simply paying a collection account without getting it removed may not improve your credit score significantly or at all. With few exceptions, as long as a collection account is listed on your credit report, it’ll hurt your credit score.
While it’s discouraging to know that paying collection accounts won’t automatically help your credit score, keep in mind that as this information gets older, it’ll have less of an impact. That’s particularly true if you’re building new positive credit references.
Are you struggling with your credit score? It might be time to look into ExtraCredit—our newest product designed to be your credit management solution. Extra Credit has five key features that, when working all together, will give you comprehensive insight and solutions to your credit needs.
How Long Does it Take for a Paid Collection to Come Off Your Credit Report?
Collection accounts remain on your credit report for around seven years after the date you first became delinquent with the lender. The same is true of all late payments. However, not all late payments are equal.
A payment that is 30 or 60 days late generally won’t affect your credit score as much as a payment that’s 90 days past due. And a report that you ran a few months past due at one time impacts your credit less than a collections account. So, if you run late and can catch up payments to avoid collections, it can be a good idea to do so.
The Bottom Line
Even when the information is inaccurate, getting creditors to remove items from your report can be difficult. Work with a credit repair agency to have experienced professionals help you handle the entire process.
Disclaimer: John C. Heath, Attorney at Law, PC, dba Lexington Law Firm contracts with Progrexion Holdings, the owner of Credit.com, to provide administrative and business support. Credit.com may receive compensation if a subscriber signs up for Lexington Law Firm services.