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How to Remove Collection Accounts From Your Credit Reports

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Removing Collection Accounts from Your Credit Reports

If you have collection accounts on your credit reports, there’s no doubt you just want them to go away. And the other big question is how long collections stay on your credit report.  While we have some tips for you on how to remove collections from your credit report, it’s important to keep in mind that, by federal law, they can be reported for seven and a half years from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor.

That seven-and-a-half-year timeframe probably feels like forever. Therefore, the idea that you can get the collection agency to remove the account if you pay it could be appealing, but it’s trickier than you may think.

The first step to dealing with this situation and removing collection accounts from your credit report is to get copies of all of your credit reports and credit scores so you can understand exactly what’s being reported by the three major credit bureaus and how it affects your scores.

You can get a free credit report every year from each of the major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – and you can get two free credit scores (from Experian and VantageScore 3.0) anytime at

In short, what works is writing a pay for delete letter, waiting it out, and asking for removal due to goodwill (more on that later). What generally helps, but doesn’t benefit your credit report, is paying off a collection normally, without getting it removed.

How to Pay for Removal of Collection Accounts

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

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

If you choose to pay for delete, then ensure you have the agreement in writing, so you have proof of what the collector agreed to do for you.

At the same time, collection agencies can’t report information that’s inaccurate or incomplete on your credit file. So, if you found yourself with a collection account on your credit report because you had a legitimate dispute with an original creditor or service provider, it’s perfectly reasonable to request that collection account be removed if you pay the bill, so it does not continue to adversely affect your credit.

Goodwill Deletions

If you have extremely 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 being able to prove you’re not a risky borrower looks good to a creditor, and they might remove the negative items from your credit report out of goodwill.

Asking for a goodwill deletion or adjustment to your credit file sounds better to creditors since requesting they remove negative items from your reports is actually against the rules put in place by the credit reporting agencies.

Send the letter by mail, preferably with a receipt or certified mail, so you know it arrives. Use the address on your credit report, but double check that it’s correct on the creditor’s website.

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.

Paying Off Collections

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

Make sure you keep evidence of the date of the delinquency because a collection agency may attempt to push back the start date and keep the debt on your credit report for an extended period of time.

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

Disputing a Collection

First of all, if the collection or debt on your credit report isn’t yours, don’t pay it. Have the credit bureau remove it from your account after you formally dispute it. If a collector keeps a debt on your credit report for an extended period of time – past seven years – you can dispute the debt, and have it removed, especially if you have proof of the start of the delinquency.

If anything at all on the collection is inaccurate, make a note and demand that the information be updated, or otherwise the collection should be removed. Sometimes when creditors go back to look at collections, they can’t validate them, and then they’re required to remove them entirely. This fact also applies within the first 30 days of receiving notice of a collection.

You should immediately contact the collector and request debt validation because if the collections agency doesn’t respond, or they can’t prove that you owe anything, they’re also forced to remove the debts from your credit report.

How Long Do Late Payments Stay on Your Credit Reports?

Like collection accounts, late payments can remain on your credit reports for up to seven years and also have a negative impact on your scores. Additionally, both have a lesser impact as they get older.

It’s good to keep in mind that not all late payments are equal. A payment that is 30 or 60 days late isn’t going to affect your credit score as much as a payment that’s 90 days past due.

Also, if any of the information reported about a collection account (or late payments) to the credit reporting agencies is inaccurate or incomplete, you have the right to dispute that account with the agencies. They must verify the information with the source.

If the source doesn’t confirm the information within 30 days, the credit reporting agency must remove it. Some agencies won’t bother to verify older closed collection accounts.

VantageScore 3.0 & FICO 9: Hope for Consumers?

If you’re unaware, VantageScore 3.0 and FICO 9 are credit scoring models that use extremely relevant data from the three major credit bureaus to calculate your accurate credit score.

The newer FICO score models ignore collection accounts where the original balance is less than $100. Thus, eliminating some nuisance collection accounts, such as small parking tickets or unpaid library fines, from hurting your credit scores.

Along similar lines, the new VantageScore 3.0 credit score ignores all paid collections accounts, as well as any collections, paid or unpaid, under $250. But you rarely know what credit scoring model is being used when you apply for a loan, credit card, mortgage or auto loan, so you can’t necessarily bank on these models’ rules. Either way, just know there’s some chance that your score won’t even take hits from collections.

Even if paying one of these balances off won’t help your scores, it may still be a good idea to resolve a collection with a debt collector, especially if you’re at risk of being sued for the debt, or you are in danger of receiving a tax lien. You’ll want to avoid creating even more problems for your credit and your finances.



Hannah Maluth contributed to this article. This article has been updated. It was originally published November 9, 2016.

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.

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  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Bern

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

    • Gerri Detweiler

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

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I have emailed you directly.

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

    • Surfside05

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

      • Gerri Detweiler

        I am going to email you directly.

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Credit Experts

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

  • Samantha

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

  • Steve

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

    • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Nattie

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

    • Credit Experts

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

      Good luck to you.

    • Monica

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

      • Ed

        Where did you get the info

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Ed – A dispute doesn’t have to be elaborate. All you have to do is send a letter to the credit reporting agencies stating the problem and giving them the information they need to identify the accounts in question. (Or you can initiate the dispute online.) If that doesn’t fix the problem you can go to steps 5 or 6 in this article:
          A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

      • Triffena Smith

        Hi do you still have the letter that you sent to the creditors? If so, can I get a copy of it to make my own?

    • Gerri Detweiler
  • Credit Experts

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

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

  • Credit Experts

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

  • Credit Experts

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

  • Credit Experts

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

    The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit

    What Happens If I Never Pay an Old Debt?

    • Desire

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

      • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

  • Credit Experts

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

  • Michael Bovee

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

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

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

  • Monica

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

  • Credit Experts

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Michael Bovee

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Mike

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

    • Credit Experts

      You should get something in writing.

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

    • Alisha Ranjit

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

      • Gerri Detweiler

        What state do you live in Alisha?

        • Alisha Ranjit

          I live in texas

          • Gerri Detweiler

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

    • Gaby

      Can the collection co sell the debt to another at almost the 7year mark, hence starting another 7 years?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        @Gaby – they can sell it but that doesn’t change how long it should be reported.

        • Gaby

          A collection account was reported with

          Date Opened: 12/1/2014
          Account Status: Closed
          Payment Status: UnKnown
          Status Updated: 03/01/15

          First this is an account from defaulted AT&T bill in 2008 so why is the date opened 2012?
          Why if account is closed do they update status every couple of months and finally the Payment Status doesn’t make sense.

          Where on my report do I see the real information from original creditor (AT&T)

          • Gerri Detweiler

            This is not an unusual way for a collection account to appear. The open date is probably when this collector picked up the account. However, what’s crucial to the reporting is when the original date of delinquency occurred. Take whatever month you fell behind with AT&T and add 7 yers + 6 months to it. After that date, it can no longer be reported. If it’s not apparent from the report what that date is you can either dispute it on your credit reports or call the credit reporting agency and ask them if they have the original date of delinquency (and if it is correct).

  • Daniel inSFL

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

    • Credit Experts

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

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

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

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

  • leslie

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

  • brandon

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

    • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Kali

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

  • Credit Experts

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

  • kris

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

    • Credit Experts

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

  • Vee

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

    • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

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

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

  • David

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

    • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Mrs4Givin

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

    • Credit Experts

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

    • Credit Experts

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

  • Angela

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

    • Michael Bovee

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

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

      What state do you live in?

      • Angela

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

        • Gerri Detweiler

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

          Creditor Gets a Judgment Against You – Now What? and

          Help! I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report

          • Angela

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

          • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Heather MacPherson

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

    • Credit Experts

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

  • Stundent Loans

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

    • Gerri Detweiler

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

      • Stundent Loans

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

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

        • Gerri Detweiler

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

    • Anonymous

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

    • Abreeanah Jordyn Shock

      I owed a bank TEN dollars, and It STILL shows negatively because I didn’t know, and paid it after it went in collections. If it was negative, it can stay that way. Did they put you in collections then you consolidated?

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

    • Angela

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

  • Credit Experts

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

  • Demetrius

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

  • Credit Experts

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Fausto

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

    • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

    • Fausto

      Ok, Thanks for the advice!

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • John

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

    • Gerri Detweiler

      What state do you live in?

  • Anna

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

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

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • RCL

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

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

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

    • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

  • Credit Experts

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

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

    • paulette

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

      • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

    Will you let me know what happens?

    • ESharer

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

      • Credit Experts

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

  • Jim

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

    • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Credit Experts

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

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

    • Doc

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

      • Gerri Detweiler

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

        • Doc

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

  • james

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

    • Credit Experts

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Emtmedic44

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Credit Experts

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

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

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

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Gerri Detweiler

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

  • Credit Experts

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

    He said a negotiated settlement is a better idea.

  • Sarah

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

    • Gerri Detweiler


      Were you under 18 when you received that service? If so then you may be able to dispute it by virtue of the fact that you were a minor. If you were 18 or older then it’s going to be more difficult. Let me know…

  • Credit Experts

    You will need to dispute the item on your credit reports with all three major credit reporting agencies. You’ll need copies of your birth certificate, and you should send a letter by certified mail explaining that you were a minor when the charges were incurred and are therefore not responsible for the bill. Here’s how to do it: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes.

    That should take care of clearing your record.

  • sas

    my husband and i are trying to buy our first home but my husband has old medical bill fromm 09 and we are trying figure if we should pay the our current credit card bill that we current on or the old medical bills to help his credit score so we could get a loan .

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Do you mean you are trying to decide whether to pay your credit card in full or pay off old medical bills? Paying off collection accounts won’t boost your scores under most scoring models but it is possible a lender will want to see they are paid, depending on the type of loan. This may help: The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit

  • Gerri Detweiler

    No it won’t restart it. We wrote about that in the article below. And the date you need to be concerned about is the date of original delinquency. Is it on there?

    Will Paying an Old Debt Hurt My Credit Scores?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    For the closed/inactive/terminated accounts if the information is neutral or positive it can remain indefinitely – and you may not want it off there and that may shorten your age of credit.

    Joint accounts can’t be removed but you should make sure they are closed so you don’t get stuck with future charges. But you should be able to dispute the authorized user accounts.

    For the collection account, have you tried disputing it?

    Read: How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?

  • niki

    Okay I have a question…..there is a collection agency who was calling and wanting a past debt paid….I asked for them to send me a statement of the info via email which I never received… I called back a couple days later and the representative was very rude and I asked to speak to someone else and he told me no and hung up….I checked and the account says it has been removed… I still have to pay the debt?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      The fact that they removed it doesn’t mean you don’t owe it if that’s what you are asking. You should get written confirmation by mail not email. It’s also possible they may try to sell the debt to someone else.

  • Credit Experts

    When was the last activity on the account?

  • Joaquin A Guzman

    Mrs. Gerri Detweiler,
    I am in the process of repairing my Credit. I am currently attempting to get into the market of purchasing a home- disappointgly, I do not qualify as my Credit is too low “587”- There was a small strectch (2-3 years) where I did not have a full time job and struggle to meet my financial commitments. I am wondering if there is a way to work with a Specialist that can help me review line by line in finding a viable process in repairing my Credit?

  • Credit Experts

    Credit repair companies are legal, but consumers are strongly cautioned. Here’s what the Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection has to say:

    You should know that anything credit repair companies can do, you can also do yourself. Here’s more information on that:
    The Truth About Credit Repair

    It’s also a good idea to check your own credit (checking it yourself won’t affect your score). Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.

    Good luck to you in rebuilding your credit.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    With regard to the old account, if the information is not negative it can be reported indefinitely. It’s doubtful that it is hurting you, and in fact is probably helping your credit if it’s an older account.

    With regard to the hospital bill, the fact that it is no longer reported is probably a good thing. Collection accounts can really hurt your credit scores. If you haven’t done so I recommend you get your free credit score to see where you stand.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    What kind of bills are they? And how are they reported? How old is very old?

  • Credit Experts

    It sounds as if you may be talking with a scammer. You need to be sure the person you are talking to is a legitimate collector and that the collector is the owner of the debt. Scare tactics are sometimes used because they are effective. Try not to panic; before you do anything, make sure the collector is legitimate.

    These resources may be useful:
    9 Signs You Are Talking to a Debt Collection Scammer
    The One Way You Should Never Pay a Debt Collector
    The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors

  • Ella

    Last moth I received a call from a local hospital about an unpaid bill I was unaware of. I paid it over the phone and now it shows on my credit report under a collection agency. The phone call was the first time I had ever heard if the balance due and I paid right away. I would like to get this removed from my report. Is that possible?

    • Credit Experts

      Ella —
      Did you pay the hospital directly? And do you have a receipt? (When you pay over the phone, you should get a receipt via postal mail or email.) You can try disputing the collection report with the major credit reporting agencies. Here’s how: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes. We recommend using certified mail and documenting your payment.

      You could also call the hospital to let them know that a bill you paid is now being reported as a collections account and ask the hospital to be sure your account has been pulled back from collections. It’s important to keep careful records (when call was made, who you talked to, and what was agreed to). Good luck to you.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Are you trying to negotiate the removal of a collection account that is accurate? If so, then yes you contact the collection agency that is reporting it. If it is an error, however, we suggest you start with the credit reporting agency reporting it. We wrote more about that here:

    How Do I Dispute an Error in My Credit Report?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    We wrote a story on that topic. Generally, paid is paid. You can read that piece here: Will Settling a Collection Account Hurt My Credit?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Sure, why not? You can give it a try. Perhaps they will be willing to work with you given the circumstances. Let me know what happens.

  • Michael Bovee

    This is a great issue to put in front of the CFPB as a collection complaint. They are actively considering rules for debt collectors and credit reporting. Your issues are spot on for some of what they are contemplating to help consumers in the same position. You can file your complaint here:

    Be as thorough with the chronology of events,including company names, etc.

    You may get a more permanent resolution out of the credit reporting agencies if they are responding to your complaint as it is fed to them through the CFPB. You may want to consider filing this as a credit reporting complaint.

    • JennMarie

      This is great! Thank you!

  • Mari

    If a credit card debt has been sent to collections can I still contact the original bank to work something out and get the collections off my credit report?

    • Credit Experts

      The answer is usually no, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask!

  • Caroline Kaiser

    I have a medical bill that is in collections from 2011. My insurance company should have paid it and I was appealing their decision to not pay it when the collection agency took over. When my insurance company checked on the situation as part of the appeal, the original servicer told them the charges were written/sold off. Therefore the Insurance company did not pay. The collection company reports this account to the credit agencies every year in October (2012, 2013 & 2014). Each time adding interest. How many times can they report this as a different amount?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      This does not sound right to me. If insurance companies could just deny claims because the bills were sent to collections they would just tie up everyone’s bills and then avoid paying them! Do you still have this insurance? Did you appeal? What state are you in?

      • Caroline Kaiser

        I was in Indiana at the time. I do not have this insurance any longer. I did appeal, but I will have to see if I can find the documents.

        The original Bill was $420 in 2011, then $492 in 2012 then $543 in 2103 and now $576.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I’m sorry it’s not clear to me if the insurance company didn’t pay it because they felt it wasn’t covered or because it’d been written off. I’m assuming it’s the former and not the latter. If it’s the latter, I’m not sure what your recourse would be – you might have to contact the agency in Indiana that regulates insurance companies.

          But let’s assume that it wasn’t covered and therefore it’s in collections. Collection accounts may be reported for seven years +180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. After that time period has passed, the account can no longer be reported regardless of whether you pay it off or not. It sounds like that would be sometime in 2011.

          If you don’t pay it, then the collection agency can update the account each year with the current balance. It’s just like if you didn’t pay a credit card and they continue to add interest then each time the credit card issuer reported they would have to report the current balance which would include unpaid interest. Does it make sense?

  • Katherine Duffey

    I had two medical bills on my credit report in error, while they were on there my score dropped over 100 points, when they came off,as in removed from my report all together,my score only jumped 30 points_what can I do about this?

  • Credit Experts

    It should be. (And you’re not the only one this has happened to.) We write about the problem — and what you can do about it — here: Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage

  • Katherine

    i had 7 bad credit reports taken off mine in less than 30 days. which was last month. i sent a letter i found online and asked for copy of original debt including dates. i saw that credit buyers bought my bad debt and since they could not provide the info, they had to remove it from all 3 credit buearues….of course i knew this was over 7 yrs old(or a little less).if they cant send me dates and debt within 30 days they gotta take it off. i didnt think it would work but proof is in the pudding.. now im helping my sister do hers. score!!!!!! and that went up 15 points in less than 30 days. i have the last 3 items due off 05/2015 . and marked my calender to send letter in may….

    • Anne

      yes, please share the letter. thanks.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I have absolutely no idea what your odds are. Collection agencies sign agreements with the credit reporting agencies agreeing not to remove accurate information in exchange for payment. Some will go ahead and do so and others stick by the rules. So you can certainly try but there’s no guarantee that you will be successful. And if you aren’t, then you are pretty much giving up any chance of settling this for less. If that’s not a problem for you, then go for it.

  • Gabriel

    Hello my name is Gabriel I have an account in collections which was opened in 2012 and have paid it in full earlier this year. On my credit report under Collections this shows up under the information of the debt. Is there any way to remove this from my credit report? Thank you in advance for your advice.
    Last Reported May 19, 2014
    Collection Agency (XXXX)
    Original Creditor (XXXX)
    Opened Date Jun 28, 2012
    Closed Date —
    Responsibility Individual
    Balance $0
    High Balance $1,653
    Remarks Account information disputed by consumer, meets FCRA requirements

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Collection accounts may be reported for seven years +180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. Until that time passes they can legally be reported. If there is any information about the account that is incorrect, you have the right to dispute it. If you disputed and it is not confirmed by the collection agency it will no longer be reported.

      • wendy

        What happens when the collection agency resells the debt? Will it just reappear from the next collector?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Yes. The new collection agency will report it as a new collection account. However, they must report the original date of delinquency so the credit reporting agency knows when to no longer report it. Typically, you can dispute previous collection accounts for the same debt. Although the law isn’t crystal clear on this it’s my understanding from the credit bureaus that you can dispute the other ones as duplicate so that only the most recent one remains on your credit reports.

  • Credit Experts

    You’re dealing with two different time limits here — a statute of limitations (how long you are legally obligated to pay the bill) and how long the credit bureaus can report it (seven years and 180 days after the original account went late). You can find more information here:

    Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    No – do not settle it unless you confirm the statute of limitations has not expired. If you do, you may revive the statute of limitations. (The time period depends on state law but it is usually 4 – 6 years from your last payment.)

    If you first fell behind on this debt eight years ago and you haven’t made a payment since, then it should not be on your credit reports. I would suggest you disputed in writing with the credit reporting agencies that are reporting it. If it is not fixed, you may be entitled to damages from the collection agency. You can read more here: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Lynette K

    Almost 2 years ago, I paid off several small collections (all from the same agency) that I didn’t even realize were on my credit. Last month, they were all removed from the Transunio.n report, but not Equifax or Experian. And, Equifax shows them all closed, but Experian shows them open but with $0 balances. How can I get this fixed so that all 3 reports match? It is great effecting my score

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Paying off collection accounts does not remove them from your credit reports. They may be reported for seven years +180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. I don’t know how old they are, but if that time period has expired, then you can dispute them with the bureaus that are still reporting them. If that time period has not elapsed, then quite frankly you got lucky with your TransUnion report.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    A repossession may be reported for seven years from the date it was repossessed. There’s no reason I can think of why it should be reported after that time. However, judgments are different. If the judgment is not paid or satisfied it may be reported until the statute of limitations expires. In many states, judgments can be renewed which means they last for a long time. If the judgment has been paid or satisfied, then it may be reported for seven years from the date the judgment was entered by the court. We wrote more about this topic here: Help! I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report

  • Credit Experts

    Call the hospital to find out what happened. The hospital would have been the one to send it to collections, and it might be able to pull it back. Have you checked your credit reports? Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports. If you find that the collection is on your credit reports, you’ll need to dispute it. If you could send copies of the bills to the credit bureaus, via certified mail. If you received a statement from the hospital saying your bill was paid in full, you should also send that. You should monitor your credit scores as well (this is a good practice generally, because it can tip you off to fraud or identity theft.) Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.

  • Credit Experts

    If the hospital accepted the payment, the debt collector should not be trying to collect the same bill (nor should you have to pay it twice). It is better to check your credit before looking for a mortgage, so that you do not need to do a dispute while looking for a mortgage (which can delay things). Is your credit score high enough to qualify for the mortgage you want as it is? Because the bill has been paid (and the hospital accepted payment), you should not be being pursued by a collection agency to pay money that you already paid. If the difference in your score is making it difficult for you to qualify for a loan, you might want to see a consumer-protection lawyer for advice.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    It won’t help boost your scores right away but if you don’t resolve it the amount owed could grow and you could be sued and/or it could wind up with a second collection agency. On the other hand, if you really don’t believe you owe that amount you may want to check out state landlord/tenant laws.

  • Credit Experts

    We’re not sure we understand the question. Could you try to rephrase it?

  • paco

    katherine i have the same problem that you have beforeonly i can fixed mine but i work on that,thanks

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Shauna –

    If you deal directly with the collection agency on this then chances are your credit scores will not change. Even if you pay it, it will still remain as a negative item on your credit reports. It sounds like the apartment complex is trying to offer you a possible alternative.

    The best scenario would be if they would pull it back from collections and let you pay it directly rather than requiring you to provide this information to the collection agency. That way the debt is no longer with the collection agency. I don’t know what their contract with the agency is and whether it allows that, but you can try.

    If they can’t or won’t, then your only option is to follow their instructions and hope it works. You won’t be any worse off than you are now.

  • kelly

    I had a dr’s bill go into collections for $200 in 2010. I just recently paid it off in September and I was surprised to see that my credit report shows paid, but that it will not be removed until 2016. I only paid it thinking it would be removed now.. not after another 2 years! so whether you pay or not, these still show?? does it help at all that I paid it or should I have just left it unpaid and saved my money? *frustrated!*

    • Credit Experts

      Kelly —
      Paying a collections account doesn’t remove it from your credit reports, but it does eliminate the possibility of being sued and having a judgment against you (and a judgment is much worse). Also, the further this collections recedes into the past, the less impact it will have, especially if there is positive information as well.

  • Casey

    I have a promissory note from a short sale that was done in 2010. The loan has never showed on my credit report for the past four years. In July, the auto payment ended from my bank and I missed three months payment. The debt collector that holds the note does not send invoices or late payment notices AT ALL! So I had no way of knowing I was behind. NOW, after 4 years of being paid on time and correctly, they decided to reflect this loan on my credit history and it has caused my score to drop 40pts. I’ve tried to pay off the debt collector if they will reverse the negative remarks but they say they don’t do that. Is there anything I can do to repair this innocent mistake. The missed 3 months have been paid in full.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You could try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau…they may not want the unwanted attention.


    I continued making payments to the original debtor after it went to collections. They took my payments. I checked the balance with them, and they told me it was in collections but that they have been posting my payments to my account. I have a $300 balance with them now. A couple of days later I got a statement with the collection agency saying that on the same account I owe $650. If I pay the collection agency $650, than the $350 that went to the original debtor is just lost? I don’t want to pay $650 on a $300 balance. If an debtor receives payment on an account in collections, and they actually take the payment, are they not required to report to the collection agency the payments received?

    • Angela

      Yes, they report the payment to the collections agency… but the collection agency has it’s own fees added onto the account which is why it is higher

  • Credit Experts

    Chris —
    It is not always possible to get a collection removed. Many creditors, by policy, report accurate information and will not agree to delete the collections in exchange for payment. As far as proving what the items are and amount, original bills and/or receipts for repayment should do it. However, the further these things recede into the past and are replaced by positive information, the less effect they will have. Other tips for getting a mortgage with poor refit are here: How to Get a Mortgage with Bad Credit and How to Get a Mortgage Despite a Debt Judgment.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    If it was removed then it does not affect your score. Anything that is not on the report can’t count toward your credit score.

    • Kay Rob

      Gerri How do I get my delinquent accounts off my credit report once they have been there for 7 years and longer and thanks for your help

      • Gerri Detweiler

        You can dispute negative accounts that are being reported longer than they should by filing disputes with the credit reporting agencies. We explain that here: How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Paying off a collection account doesn’t typically change your credit scores, at least under most models. We wrote about that here: The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit

  • Credit Experts

    It is likely to help your score.

  • Credit Experts

    Did they agree in writing (we hope)? It shouldn’t take more than 30 days for an item to be removed after a credit-reporting agency is notified that it should be taken off. But it is possible/likely, that the collector, if it actually asked that the item be deleted, did not do so immediately.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I am not sure I understand your scenario but hopefully this article will help: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

  • Credit Experts

    Tony —
    Paying on time is the most important thing you can do to improve your credit. We also suggest monitoring your credit score. (Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.) And here’s a post on rebuilding credit:
    How to Rebuild Credit

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Collection accounts are negative whether they are paid or unpaid, so unfortunately paying a collection account typically does not improve your credit score. However, if all of these problems happened in 2007, then you should be getting close to the time when those accounts will come off your credit reports anyway. If that account that was sold shows up with a new collection agency they are supposed to report the original date of delinquency – when you first fell behind with the original creditor – and that’s what starts the clock ticking. Collection accounts may be reported for seven years +180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor.

  • Dontcomyway Blackmon

    i have several things on my report that have a zero balance i have paid them off in the past year can i ask for them to be removed off my credit report

    • Credit Experts

      Unfortunately, paying a collection account does not remove it from your credit report. However, time helps. The collection account must be removed 7 years and 180 days after the account first went late. But even before then, the older it is, the less it affects your credit score. You can read more here: Link text

  • Gerri Detweiler

    No. It shouldn’t happen. File a dispute. if it’s not corrected you may have a credit damage lawsuit. Keep good records. How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Yes it is normal for unpaid debt collection accounts to be sold to other agencies. However, they are all supposed to report the original date of delinquency (when you fell behind with the original lender) and the collection account cannot be reported after 7 years plus 180 days after that date. If the collection account is too old. dispute it.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I’m not sure what the issue is. Do you believe the way the First Premier account is reported is incorrect? If so then you can dispute it. I would suggest you start by disputing with the credit reporting agencies that are reporting it, and if that doesn’t work you can try disputing it directly with First Premier. (Presumably you could use either of the addresses that are provided on the credit report.) Please read:
    How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Since these accounts contain errors, I suggest you dispute them in writing. If they are not confirmed by the source they will be removed from your credit reports. Read: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Gerri Detweiler

    If the statute of limitations has expired they may try, but there not be much they can actually do to force you to pay. Read this: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Indefinitely is not correct. Did you get the loan out of default? If so then it shouldn’t be reported longer than seven years. from the last time you were in default.

  • Abreeanah Jordyn Shock

    I have a letter with an agreement from my collections company that we made saying that If I pay 80% of my balance, they will remove it from my credit, and have it settled. So I was wondering how much my credit would increase if this happened.

    • Credit Experts

      It is impossible to say, because so many factors affect your credit. However, you can take a look at your free credit score on, and it includes a personalized guide to understanding and improving yours. And congratulations on getting that letter; it was very smart to get it in writing.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Collection accounts can be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you fell behind with the original creditor. Since you can’t get any documentation to back up this bill, you may want to contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or a consumer law attorney for help.

  • Sue

    I just paid off my collection debt which is not mine . The debt was belong to my ex husband. For some reason i need to be responsible for it cos we were married at that time… I asked the collector to send me the removed collection confirmation letter first but she dined to do so .. She said i need to pay first then she would send me a letter . So i just paid the full amount… right now im so doubtful if she is going to send me the letter or I should just go to their office to get the letter . I need your your suggestion . I really need the collection out of my credit report

    • Credit Experts

      Sue —
      Your inclination to want the creditor to put in writing that the collection would be removed if you paid was a good one. You describe the debt as your husband’s, but it is showing up on your credit report? It seems likely that perhaps this was a joint obligation or a co-sign situation. If the debt was solely his responsibility, it shouldn’t be on your credit report. The good news here is that if all your other payments are current, the effect of this shouldn’t be as bad as if they were not (and the impact will fade with time). It certainly cannot hurt to go and ask for the promised letter. Here’s more:
      What Happens to Your Credit When You Get Divorced?

  • Credit Experts

    Do you have a receipt from the doctor’s office showing that you paid? You are right that your scores could take a hit, but scores are created when requested, so your score fluctuates. The best thing you can do is to document everything and get in touch with the credit bureaus IF this appears on your credit reports (you can’t dispute something before it appears).

  • Gerri Detweiler

    David – Do you still have the documentation from the doctor and something from Gold’s Gym? You could try sending that to the collection agency and along with a letter telling them you don’t owe this bill (if you do, send it via certified mail). If that doesn’t work you could contact a consumer law attorney as you may have a credit damage case. Or you could file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I will come off your credit reports seven years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. That’s true regardless of whether it is paid or unpaid. And paying it now (or not) won’t change that.

    However, if the statute of limitations has expired and you now negotiate you may revive the statute of limitations. And that means that they may be able to sue you to try to collect.

    Regardless, if you dispute an item and it is removed from your credit reports there are restrictions on placing it back on your credit. We described them in this article: Credit Deja Vu: When Negative Information Keeps Showing Up on Your Credit Report

  • BeeBee

    I have an unpaid medical bill from 2009 on my credit report (was in college at the time and didn’t know this had went unpaid as my parents handled insurance etc at the time). The date on my credit report is 2010 when the collections agency acquired the debt. I tried to negotiate a “payment for removal” they said they can’t even think about that until I pay it in full, 30 days after I pay it I can send in a letter to the manager explaining why I want it removed. My questions is, since its such an old debt, should I just wait it out? And if so, is it 7 years from the date of the unpaid bill or from when the collections agency got it? I’m also pretty sure it happened in 2008 from the insurance information I have but the collections agency is telling me it happened in ’09. Im trying to buy a house in the next year and a half or so and am trying to get this off my credit to improve my score, any advice would be great.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It should be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you fell behind with the original creditor. So if it was due in 2008 and that’s when it went delinquent then that’s when the reporting date should start. It should fall off after the time period expires regardless of whether you pay it or not. If the statute of limitations has expired (check for your state) then you’ll have to decide whether you want to pay it and take the chance that they will remove it – or just wait until the time expires.

      Regardless, you can still dispute this and ask them verify the debt. And you can dispute it with the credit reporting agencies if you don’t believe they have the correct dates.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Maybe – depends on the facts and circumstances. it may be negotiated as well.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    The crucial date here is the date you fell behind on the original debt – not when you settled. Do you know when that would have been? It sounds like you need to dispute it. How Do I Dispute an Error in My Credit Report? Make sure you keep good records. If it’s not corrected you may have a case for credit damage.

    • runninggirl

      I have no experience in dealing with these matters and I don’t want to do anything to further negatively affect my credit score. I copied some information from my CR, hoping maybe someone can clarify it for me. The account status is paid in settlement – the payment was in 2007, and I received a PIF/settlement letter in January 2008. I received no other letters/calls from the OC or CA after that time. If you look down at the balance history, it is showing a $0 balance and a payment date of December 2007…even as recently as December 2014! When I look at my payment history, from March 2008 to February 2009, my account was current sporadically during that time 14 months, even though i was PIF in January and no longer used the account after that.

      I guess my question is, should I contact the OC to find out what is going on, or directly dispute it with Experian?

      Date of Status:
      Reported Since:
      Last Reported Date:

      Charge Card
      Monthly Payment:

      Credit Limit:
      High Balance:
      Recent Balance:
      Recent Payment:

      Account paid in full for less than full balance

      Account History:
      180 days past due as of Aug 2010 to Nov 2014
      150 days past due as of Jul 2010, Dec 2009
      120 days past due as of Jun 2010, Nov 2009
      90 days past due as of May 2010, Oct 2009, May 2009
      60 days past due as of Apr 2010, Sep 2009, Apr 2009
      30 days past due as of Mar 2010, Aug 2009, Mar 2009, Dec 2008, Sep 2008

      Balance History – The following data will appear in the following format:
      account balance / date payment received / scheduled payment amount / actual amount paid
      Nov 2014: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Oct 2014: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Sep 2014: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Aug 2014: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Jul 2014: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Jun 2014: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      May 2014: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Apr 2014: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Mar 2014: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Feb 2014: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Jan 2014: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Dec 2013: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Nov 2013: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Oct 2013: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Sep 2013: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Aug 2013: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Jul 2013: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Jun 2013: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      May 2013: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Apr 2013: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Mar 2013: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Feb 2013: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data
      Jan 2013: $0 / December 12, 2007 / no data / no data

      Limit High Balance History:
      Between Jan 2013 and Nov 2014, your credit limit/high balance was $140

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Dispute it with the credit reporting agencies. These dates don’t match the evidence you have for when it was settled.

  • Credit Experts

    A paid judgment is supposed to stay on your credit report for seven years. However, its impact lessens over time, and positive information (like, that bills are being paid on time) can help. Here’s more:
    How Long Does Negative Info Stay on My Credit Report?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I’d suggest you dispute it in writing with the credit reporting agencies. Let them know you believe it is too old to be reported. If that doesn’t get it removed then let us know. It’s a little tricky since you don’t have any information about the original debt but it sounds like it’s still worth disputing. A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

    (When you say the debt is showing up as currently being delinquent – do you mean that is what the credit card account shows or a collection account?)

  • LJR

    I had a medical bill I had lost track of in 2013. In March of 2014 I found the bill and sent a check to the medical provider. Within a few months, I found the balance in full on my credit reports from a collection agency. I contacted the collection agency and informed them I paid the debt directly to the office. I offered to pay the interest however they refused and told me I needed to pay the whole balance again. I sent them a copy of the canceled check, disputed it with the bureaus, contacted the doctors office….and still they refuse to remove it or at least report the payment. What can I do?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or better yet consult with a consumer law attorney. If the collection agency is demanding a debt you’ve previously paid they may be violating federal law and you may be entitled to damages. If you are having trouble finding an attorney I suggest you use the search function on the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

  • Jessica

    I just paid off a collection today. How long does it take to come off my credit report, will my credit improve, and how do I expedite the collection being removed?

    • Credit Experts

      Jessica —
      Unfortunately, paying it off doesn’t necessarily remove it from your account (in most credit scoring models). It does, however, remove the threat that you could be sued (and a judgment is even more negative than a collection). The good news is the further the collection recedes into the past, the less impact it will have. And bills paid on time can help you rebuild. We wrote about collections and credit reports here:
      Will Paying a Collection Account Remove It From My Credit Report?

  • dori

    Thanks so much

  • Jak

    I disputed some of my collections through transunion and experian. I just opened a free trial account with them and disputed the ones that did not seem accurate to me. They took off several of the ones I had disputed that way, it was real easy. You just have to find the dispute area and put your reason why you feel its in-accurate and wait to see if they remove them. :)

  • Damn Skippy

    What if you receive a collection letter from a collection agency for an item not listed on your credit report?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Credit reporting is optional. They don’t have to report. However, please be sure to investigate and make sure the debt isn’t too old, and that you are dealing with a legitimate collection agency.

  • jlan421

    Still confused about the 7 year rule of reporting, if you default on your debt say 2011 but does not appear in your credit report until 2013, when does it actually fall off from your credit report? 2018 or 2020? Please advise.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      If you defaulted on your debt there are probably two accounts listed. One is the original account (credit card or auto loan for example). That’s probably listed as a charge-off. That can be reported for seven years from the charge off date. The second account may be a collection account. The collection account may be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. The date it was placed for collection is irrelevant for this purpose. Make sense?

      • jlan421

        ok, so if the first default date is in Jan 2011, and was charge-off say Jan 2012, and there was a collection account opened in 2013, when does it fall off? will it be on Jan 2018 for the original account and Jan 2018 + 180 days for the collection account?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          The rule of thumb is to count 7 years from the charge off date and use that as the guideline for the collection account. (That’s because most accounts are charged off 180 days after non payment.) But since you know the first default date is Jan 2011, the collection account should be reported until July 2018.

  • vvargas011

    i need one sample letter to remove

    paid collections can you help me

    • Gerri Detweiler

      The fact that you paid a collection account is not reason enough to dispute it (unless it’s not showing that it was paid.) There is no specific language you must or can use to get the credit bureaus’ attention. Just tell the truth:

      The balance on this collection account is wrong. Please investigate. Be sure to include enough information for them to locate the right information. You can also do it online if that’s easier for you.

      • vvargas011

        Oh ok thank you very much for you help

  • pammy

    Katherin can you help me.

  • Sarah

    If paying off the collection item does not improve your credit score what encouragement does anyone have to pay the debt off? There is no incentive then to pay off the debt.

    • Credit Experts

      Until a debt is paid, the creditor can sue and try to get a judgment against you. A judgment is an even more serious negative than a collections account, and judgments can sometimes result in garnished wages. So, yes, there is still an incentive to pay.

  • Rita

    I received a settlement letter in the mail for a small balance owed to an online college ($235). I paid $56 as part of the settlement and was told I would receive a letter in the mail showing it was paid and my credit report would be updated to show settled with a zero balance. Needless to say I never received the letter and they’ve updated the balance by simply subtracting the $56 from the $235. It doesn’t show that I settled nor does it show a zero balance. Can I fight this? I have since paid a credit repair company that has not been able to get this item removed. Should I contact the credit bureau myself and explain what happened?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Do you have any proof of the settlement? If you don’t it is your word against theirs. But I am confused as to why you don’t just pay the balance. Isn’t that preferable to paying a credit repair company? Also keep in mind that paying a collection account does not immediately boost your credit scores. See this article: The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit

      • Rita

        Yes. I have proof – the settlement letter.
        At the time that I paid the settlement amount I was not yet concerned about repairing my credit. That was over 6 months ago. I paid it because it was so cheap and to stop receiving letters. More recently, I have been trying to clean up my credit report which is why I paid the credit repair company. They have been successful in getting many items removed thus boosting my score, but this particular account is a thorn in my side. Now I’m wondering since they made a mistake if I can have it removed completely. By the way, I have also been successful in getting three collection agencies to agree to a pay for delete which has also helped my score.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Good to hear about the success you’ve had! If the settlement letter disagrees with what is being reported and you can’t get them to resolve it via the dispute process you can either file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or get a consumer law attorney involved.

          • Rita

            Thank you very much for your help!

  • Suzan Wilson

    Hi… as with all others here, I have a question. I was hit very hard financially just a little before 2008. I was checking my credit report periodically with a competitor of for the last couple of years. I checked today again and my credit score was showing so poor, that I barely have a score. I also noticed three collection accounts have been removed from my credit report. I wrote creditors a Judgement Proof Letter, which did stop them from the constant calling, so it’s been quiet for several years. This particular credit score company doesn’t explain things well, and I’m not too thrilled with them any longer. So, I just signed up with, and in looking at my credit report from them, I see my scores are significantly higher, which isn’t still that great, but quite a bit better. Why the huge difference in the two agencies? The VantageScore 3.0 gave me much lower scores, and I realize that now that’s the way credit scores will be calculated, however, going from the mid-400s from one credit score company, to the mid-600s with is a little confusing. Which can I believe? And what does it mean for a collection account to be removed from a credit report? At 66 I now collect a meager amount from Social Security, and still have no possible way to pay anyone anything. My total owed is just a little over $3,000.00. At any rate…any enlightenment would be so appreciated. Thank you :)

    • Credit Experts

      Suzan —
      Collection reports cannot be reported on your credit report more than 7.5 years after the original account first went late, provided there has been no activity since then. Scores can be confusing; three credit reporting agencies collect and report the credit information, and they do not share information (so you could have something that is reported to one agency and not another). And credit scores are calculated differently. Formulas are proprietary, though categories are generally weighted the same. Finally, not all credit scores are on the same scale. Some ranges are larger than others (or go higher). So comparing one score to another isn’t very useful (and can be misleading). Here’s more:
      FICO vs. FAKO: What’s Your Real Credit Score?
      Why Do I Have So Many Credit Scores?
      3 Reasons Why Your Free Credit Score Looks Wrong

  • Marie

    I am a recent grad student trying to improve my credit history. I recently got my credit report and saw 1 negative/closed account from a US Bank CC I had opened in July 2009 with a “high credit” of $700 and “balance” of $0. I thought I had taken care of this when a collection agency called Delmarva Capital called in January 2012. I now realize I had gone about it the wrong way paying without having them provide me with any information. I would like to take care of this the right way and have the negative account removed from my credit report. Does anyone have any information on how to go about this? It provides me with contact information for Cb Disputes so I’m assuming thats the collection agency it has been sold to.

    Also whats the difference between Date Opened, Date Reported, Date of Last Payment, and Date of First Delinquency?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      What is this US Bank CC account reporting that is negative?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I am afraid I don’t have a simple answer for you….if it is accurate it can be reported for seven years. You didn’t necessarily do anything wrong with how you tried to resolve it. Most creditors won’t do “pay for removal” deals–only some collection agencies. You’ll just need to focus on rebuilding strong credit references: How to Rebuild Credit. As this gets older it carries less weight provided you have on-time references now.

  • Guest

    I’m 24 years old, recently graduated college, but while in college I didn’t pay my bills and it’s had a negative impact as you know on my credit. I have several accounts in collections, what can I do to get these removed and raise my score?

    • Kali Geldis


      Unfortunately, collections accounts can remain on your credit report for 7 years. Here’s a good guide to collections and what you can do to mitigate their effect on your credit:

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Asia – how long the debt will be reported depends on the type of debt. A collection account may be reported for seven years +180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. Sometimes it makes sense to pay a collection account to prevent a lawsuit or to prevent it being sold to another collection agency. Other times that is not a concern. We wrote about that here:What Happens If I Never Pay an Old Debt?

  • Prieta10

    How do you dispute an item listed in collections that keeps being sold to 3rd party companies? The original creditor on my report will be 7 years in April, well they have sold it to several agencies now on my credit it looks like I just had service last year and that is inaccurate! It’s already a hairy mess since its one of the ex husband bills I refuse to pay. Can I still dispute with the original company regarding the date?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You can absolutely dispute it. Collection agencies must report the original date of delinquency – the date you first fell behind with the original creditor.

  • captanbly

    I have a judgement against me and it is now posted on my credit report. I am in a very good financial situation now, but wonder if paying this off in full right now will even help me to begin to re-establish my credit. It is not that I don’t want to pay it right now…but it has already destroyed my credit score, so why should a pay it off other than for the moral aspect. Will it at least make it look better on my report if nothing else??

    • Credit Experts

      captainbly —
      With most credit card models, a paid-off collections will not improve your score. It will, however, keep you from being sued for the money (plus possibly court fees, penalties, etc.). And a judgment that does against you will look worse on your credit report than a collection.


    I am trying to fix my credit and I had a couple of delinquent accounts that I agree on paying but one I refuse to pay and I dispute it on the credit report website and about two week ago I received an email that the investigation had been done and it doesn’t show on my credit no more that it has been deleted, but the collector is now calling me everyday. can they still call me after it no longer shows on my credit?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      How long information can be reported on your credit report does directly tie into whether they can collect the debt. But it may be outside the statute of limitations. This article explains: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Paula – you may be opening up a can of worms by disputing this. If you want to move forward, I suggest you talk with your loan officer first. This article explains why: How a Credit Report Dispute Could Stop You from Buying a Home

  • ManageThis

    What is the best way to get CLOSED collections removed from my credit report? The number for the collection agency is no longer valid & original creditor supposedly does not have a better number. Does sending the credit bureaus a certified letter help?

    • Credit Experts

      That is what we would recommend

      • ManageThis

        Thank you! I have been told by some people that leaving closed collections on your account actually helps your score. Is this true or is it better to have them removed?

  • Emergencieshappen

    If I ask about settling a medical debt in exchange for removal and they are unable to do it, will it affect anything in my report? Also, if they agree to do so and I pay and it is not removed, what happens then?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You can ask. The worst they can say is no. If you don’t have it in writing, though, it will be your word against theirs if they don’t follow through.

  • Nick

    Is there a company I can pay to remove a paid debt from 3 years ago. I would just like to removed from my credit report. I asked the company to remove it and they refused. I pad it, and its the only bad debt on my report.

    • Credit Experts

      Nick —
      Unless there is an inaccuracy in the report, it will likely stay on your credit report for 7 years, 180 days after the bill first went late with the original creditor. However, assuming you have positive history since then, its impact diminishes with time. You can read more here:
      The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit


    removing late payments from your credit score will it bring it up


    I had two late payments removed from my credit score will That bring my flco score up

  • Hrbac

    I am in process of buying house and mortgage broker said I need to remove an account that had Dispute still coded in it. I actually paid a collection account last year 2014. I called to remove dispute and my credit dropped 80 point due to it still saying collections. Should I dispute it still? It’s supposed to fall off ect year. I am afraid if I send the letter paid it will update activity to 2015.

  • Taterload

    I have 2 small hospital bills from Dec 2009 that were never paid. I never even made payments on them. I was busy paying the larger hospital bills that were moved to collections and threatening to garnish my wages. The amounts are $168 and $106. They both were moved to collections one last reported to the credit bureau on Sep, 2011 and the other reported on Aug, 2010. After reading other post it appears that paying off items in collections doesn’t help improve your credit unless it is actually removed. My question is should I even bother paying them? I haven’t been getting any calls or mail from either one of them.

    • Credit Experts

      Taterload —
      Paying them off won’t improve your score. However, it will remove the threat of a lawsuit, and having fees, etc., added to what you owe. (And a judgment on your credit report looks much worse than a collections.) But they might not sue . . . so the choice is yours. You can also check this list of state statutes of limitation to see if the debts are still collectable: Statute of Limitations On Debt Collection by State

  • Isabel P

    I have a loan with Cash Call listed on my credit report as a charge off. I have been denied credit everywhere because of this. I never paid the company a dime and have always wanted to honor my debt. The principal is $2600 but the amount owed is $2200. They have sent me settlement offers in the past for $1800. My goal is to improve my credit whether it is through removing the account all together or having them remove the charge off status. I do not know how to go about this. I know everything should be in writing. I do not want to waste time going back and forth. What should I offer in my initial contact letter? Also, I am willing to pay the 2600.

  • Nattlie

    There is a company which provided Nanny services and I owed them $60 but they kept asking for $120 so I never paid them. They sent the account to collections and it showed up on my credit report. I am planning to apply for a mortgage, I am not sure what is the impact of such a small amount on the mortgage application and what is the best way to resolve it. I have many proof against the company for being pathtic

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Yes it could affect your mortgage rate, and could cost you thousands of dollars in extra interest if it does. You may want to first get proof of the credit damage; get your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies and talk with a loan officer to get preapproved. Find out if you are charged a higher rate as a result. Then you may want to talk with a consumer law attorney to see whether you have a case for credit damage. If you do, a letter from the attorney may be enough to get the collection agency to stop reporting.

      The other option would be to file a dispute with each of the credit reporting agencies that is reporting the collection account and include your proof. Just beware: an unresolved dispute can hold up a mortgage. We wrote about that here:
      How a Credit Report Dispute Could Stop You From Buying a Home And here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

      • Nattlie

        Thanks Gerri. I was reading through the blogs and saw that debt below $100 are not taken into considerations. If I provide proof to the collection agency that the debt is just $60, will they be updating the collection account and it will not be taken into consideration at all? If yes, and I don’t pay them at all, will it be still affecting things like mortgages? The company is one of the worst company I dealt with in my life and I don’t want to pay them for the services they did not provide me

        • Gerri Detweiler

          That’s true for some models, but not for all and not all of the ones used in the mortgage industry feature that. Plus it’s based on the amount reported. I doubt that you will be able to get them to adjust the amount reported. It sounds like the goal is to get it off your credit reports all together.

  • Christopher Griffin

    I’m dispute collection which paid off 2013. I had verzison wireless for early termination fee. I wireless card which would not work with my laptop despite to get card it would work. I pay $60 monthly fee and cancel my service but still charge early termination fee for card which never worked so refuse verizsion they refund my money. I went into verzison on 4 occasions and could not their card to work with brand laptop. My account was to noted on all six occasions that dealt with rep but when final have and cancel service they stated had no record of my issues which lie. Anyhow out principle i felt should not have early termination fee therefore i never paid so went collection. I have dispute thing until blue in face its been over seven years since had collection and final broke down and paid the fee. i feel that credit bureau do not work behalf consumer but extends of corporations. Kicker is i not only did pay service i never received but years broke and paid termination fee and still have one neg account on credit so much principles.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You may want to file a complaint with the CFPB. They are working on regulations related to debt collection.

  • Rosanna Villarreal

    My credit report no longer has my student loan debt it has been removed. Does this mean that the student loan debt is gone?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Not necessarily. If these were federal loans you may want to check the National Student Loan Data System.

  • Statute

    I had a creditor that Closed my account about 7 years ago. Since I have been contacted by several collection agencies and attorneys. The most recent has just placed a collection with the account Opened dated as of present. Is this legal and is there no statue of limitations in Indiana for a unsecured loan with no debt to income verification? Can I be sued and is there any way other to remove? Even if paid they will not remove.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      A collection account may be reported seven years and 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor leading up to when it was placed for collection. The open date on the collection account does not determine how long it will be reported. Is there anything on the report that says when it is scheduled to be removed? It sounds like it would be at that point or close if the account was closed 7 years ago for non payment. The statute of limitations doesn’t affect how long it will be reported. Statute of Limitations On Debt Collection by State

  • Gerri Detweiler

    There are separate periods for statutes of limitations and for credit reporting, Please read this article: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • jay

    How do I pay my collection account if they haven’t contacted me. Who do I pay where do I go?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Have you been able to identify your collection accounts from your credit reports? If not, you can try contacting the original creditor to see if they know where the account is at. And if not, you may have to wait until you hear from one. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

  • flo

    Hello I have a question? I have been trying to repair my credit now for over a year….But i still have a collections on my credit report which i know is affecting my score….they keep reporting the account as late…I have disputed online with the credit companies when I pull up my credit report each year…. I feel as though the collections company is reporting illegally and not reporting the proper facts….what should I do?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Either file a complaint with the CFPB or talk with a consumer law attorney. You’ve already done the essential first step, which is to dispute it.

  • John Jameson

    I have a deliquent account that was first reported August 2009. It says here on my Experian paperwork that “This account is scheduled to continue on record until Feb. 2016…” I contacted the creditor today(4/21/15) and they said the only way they would be able to “completely remove” it is if I paid the amount owed in full. Considering this was an account that I has disputed originally, I’m reluctant to pay. Is it in my best interest to stick it out? if so, when would the account be eligible for removal according to the statue of limitations?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      The time period for reporting it is different than the statute of limitations. It sounds like it won’t be reported after Feb 2016 regardless of whether you pay it. I don’t know what the circumstances here are but it sounds like you need to proceed with caution. You could reopen the matter by acknowledging the debt or agreeing to pay it. Certainly don’t do anything if you don’t have assurances in writing first.

  • Jess

    Hello, I just paid off everything on my free credit report I get every year. Everything is paid off and closed but it did nothing to help my credit score. I am looking to buy a house and need my score to go up, a lot! What steps can I take to remove items that are negative (old paid off debts) from my credit report with all 3 reporting agencies.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Paying off negative accounts doesn’t get them removed from your credit unfortunately. You could try disputing them and if they aren’t confirmed they will be removed.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Contact a consumer law attorney as you may have a case for credit damage. You can find one via the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. The other option would be to file a complaint through the CFPB.

  • Stacy

    How do I raise my credit score? I recently paid off quite a few of my debts that were in collections, and after reading a lot of the comments, I see that just paying my debts off doesn’t automatically raise my credit score. What is the next step that I need to take in order to start raising my score?

    • Credit Experts

      Stacy —
      If you have other debts or credit card, paying them on time is the No. 1 thing you can do. We have other suggestions here: How to Build Credit the Smart Way

  • David W. Ledger

    I had a bill for $90.00 on my credit report for an old debt from 2010 my ex-wife ran up and didn’t tell me about (didn’t pay the portion not covered by insurance). It was turned into collections in my name as I was the person providing the insurance. Recently I’ve been getting advice on how to repair my credit and was told to pay it off. When I called the collection agency they were very rude and said the bill was now $140.00 as new fees had been added even though they stopped reporting on me in 2014. They stated they were collecting this for the at the request of the dental office. I called my dentist and they realized this was not really my bill, said the original amount was only $63.00. She called the collection agency and then called me and they took the payment in the office over the phone and said it was now fully resolved and that they would be sending me a letter stating I had paid it in full. Today I got the letter except it was from the collection agency. When I called them they stated that the dental office did not take the debt out of collections, therefore this debt will remain on my credit report as a paid debt. I called the dental office and they said it wasn’t really up to them to take it out of collections and had allowed me to pay them, but that it was still in collections. However, since I paid with a debit card, my online bank statement clearly shows the payment as made to the dental office, not the collections agency? I feel like I got scammed or that they said one thing but then did something different. Do I have grounds to threaten a lawsuit to get this off my credit report? The dental billing office lead me to believe I was paying them, not the collection agency…

    • Gerri Detweiler

      The dental office turned it over for collections so I don’t see why they can’t pull it out of collections. You may want to consider sending them a letter stating that if this isn’t resolved and removed you’ll talk with a consumer law attorney about a credit damage case. These articles may be of interest: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit and How to Challenge a Debt Collector & Win.

      • David W. Ledger

        Gerri I just spoke with them again at the collection agency and they are refusing to budge. They say that the bill was “never puled back” from the dental office and when I asked her why I was allowed to pay the dental office, and why the charge on my bank account clearly says it was to the dentist, and not the collector, she just kept giving smug self-righteous answers and when I mentioned a possible law suit she said, “Go right ahead I will look forward to hearing from your attorney” and seemed to almost be laughing. I am very frustrated as i know the dental office said they were going to ask about pulling it back and then told me to pay them over the phone. It seems like they then changed the story after the fact so that it will remain on my credit report.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          How frustrating. You may want to try filing a complaint with the CFPB or talking with an attorney. It’s worth a try.

  • E-lopez

    Actually it is illegal for any collection agency to continue to renew the same collection over and over no matter how many times your debt has been sold. this is a tactic collection agencies use to get you to pay them off. they will continue to report it as a collection. research sold collections and statute of limitations and you will fond the legislation to bak up your findings. you can find it in FDCPA (Federal Debt Collections Practices Act) hope this helps

  • Kimberly Mitchell

    I have an item on my credit report that is in collections, but the information on the report doesn’t list who to contact to pay it off. Do I go back to the original source or the collections agency? Additionally, is it ok to try to negotiate a payoff?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I am not sure to be honest. Government collection accounts don’t always carry the same consumer protections as consumer debts. Was this a traffic ticket issued on a vehicle registered to you and driven by someone else? Where did it occur?

  • Jeffrey De Leon

    Is there such a thing as requesting the collection agency to remove a reported account if you already settled and paid it off through the collection agency?
    i need help ..

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You can certainly try as we stated in the article but they aren’t obligated to do so (and under their agreements with the bureaus really aren’t supposed to). But it does happen sometimes!

  • Kate

    Gerri, I know you are extremely busy and I appreciate you helping me. I have an old apartment complex that My ex and I lived in. We were transferring to a sister complex so it would have transferred the lease, but the sister complex rented out the apartment so we moved to a different place. The original company is trying to charge me a lot of money for breaking the lease even though I wasn’t the one who did. My ex died and when I told them that they told me that i was the sole person responsible for it and now they are reporting all of the balance on my credit report. It originally was reported as of 04/10 since other companies have bought the debt and so on will it fall off at the 7.5 yr mark or should I dispute it or what. I lived in CO then and live in CA now. My Husband and I would like to buy a house but I am not sure what to do at this point. I don’t feel l owe the debt at all and definitely not the entirety. I desperately would love your advice. Thank you so much.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I am not sure how much help I can be, but I’ll try. If this was an apartment you jointly shared with your ex and you were both on the lease then you were both responsible for the entire amount due, not just half. (The other issue of them leasing out the apartment when you tried to move is not in my area of expertise unfortunately. You’d probably need to talk with an attorney familiar with landlord-tenant laws in that state to help you understand your rights.)

      As far as your credit reports go, you can try disputing it with the credit reporting agencies. If it is not confirmed it will be removed. Otherwise, it can be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you fell behind with the original creditor (the apartment complex). But if the collector confirms it then you’ll either need to try filing a complaint with the CFPB or hire a consumer law attorney to try to challenge it with the collection agency.

  • Jessica

    You say in the article that Some agencies will not bother to verify older paid collection accounts so because they do not confirm or deny the account they must remove it from credit. Is the same true for disputing settled accounts, late pays, and tax liens(that are paid off)? Does the credit bureau take it off the credit if they do not respond? Or does the creditor have to take it off the credit? If the creditor does not respond in 30 days and does not remove the item do you have to do something else?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      If you dispute an item with the credit reporting agency, it must verify it with the source. If the source does not confirm it, then the credit reporting agency will stop reporting it. This article talks about credit report disputes: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Brandi N Joey Galloway

    HELP!!!! We were in the process of buying a home. Our credit was pulled on March 05, 2015 showing no negative payments from Ally Financial. (Seller had some hick-ups @ this time with establishing clear title to home.) Anyhow, we were advised to remove a dispute with Ally which had been in a dispute status for almost 6 months, unresolved. We removed the dispute, credit was re-pulled on March 25, 2015 (20 days after initial pull) & there were 5 30-day late payments then showing from Ally. How can this happen and how do I fix it without filing another dispute? I have written a goodwill letter to Ally, but still have no update on status of account. We are still without a home.


    Got my credit ran by a car dealership. Found out I have 2 collections I didn’t not know about . I’m young 24 so I don’t have much credit history to start with. These collections are random like one for some sort of Medical payment another for some type of trade Bureau. How can I find out exactly what they are?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Start by ordering your credit reports at Those reports should list contact information for each collection agency. If they don’t, the credit reporting agency must provide that information. You can then contact the collector for details. Just keep in mind that doing so may renew their interest in collecting from you if it turns out you owe the debt.

  • Jj

    I recently checked my credit score and noticed 3 negative marks listed. My lung collapsed in 2010 and couldn’t afford to pay any of my medical bills eventually they all went to collections. There were three collections that were caused from my hospital visit, however the dates are showing are different. One is showing for October 2010, second is showing for April 30th 2013, and lastly it’s showing reported April of 2015.. I have not heard or acknowledged these collections since 2010 so can anyone explain why the dates have changed? And what to do with these collections? I’m slowly trying to build my credit. I have opened up credit cards and paid them on time always keeping them under 20% utilization. I bought a car last year but always made my payments on time and always paying more than the minimum. I just want to start building my credit and buy a house in the next few years. Can anyone help!?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It’s hard to tell what dates you’re talking about, but somewhere the collection account should indicate the original date of delinquency or the date of first delinquency. That date is the date you first fell behind with the original lender and the credit bureaus use that to determine when that collection account should no longer be reported. You may see other dates like date placed for collection or date of last activity and those shouldn’t matter in terms of how long the account is reported.

      We have several articles on this topic that may be of help: Will Settling a Collection Account Hurt My Credit? and The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit and What Happens If I Never Pay an Old Debt?.

  • Deborah Packard Hoffmann

    I could not pay rent for August of 2009 ($575.00), two years later I received a collections notice for $11,000.00 (she had added late charges for 2 years). I disputed those charges, and never heard another word from the original creditor (landlord) or the collections. In 2015 I found that this is still showing on my credit bureau reports. When would the 6 year (Wisconsin) statute of limitations be up? Would it run from August 1st 2009 when I first became delinquent? On my account with the credit bureau it states that this is due to be removed in 2018 that would make it 7 years from when she placed it on my account NOT when I first became delinquent.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It sounds like the first date of delinquency should be August 2009 and that should start the credit reporting period. It sounds like that is not reported accurately so you can dispute it.

      The statute of limitations is a different time period and my understanding is that you are correct in understanding that it is 6 years in Wisconsin. It usually starts from the time you defaulted so presumably it is up in about two months. As long as you aren’t sued in the meantime, then it sounds like the debt will soon be time-barred. (Note that is a different from the length of time it can be reported.) Also, if there is already a judgment against you then the statute of limitations is different.

      Please read: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • kyle

    Went to a hospital 5yrs ago and they had a charity care program that paid all bills 100%. Now 5 yrs later there is a collection. I have never received a bill or any information that I owed anyone a dime. I check my credit score periodically and now my good credit is crap. There is a collection for $1200 and the hospital states they have a balance of Zero and they cant help me. called the collection agency and they stated to call the hospital. Pretty aggravating that no one knows a thing or is unable to help. This came at a terrible time due to me trying to get a house.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Ugh. You certainly have the right under federal law to dispute a collection account you don’t believe you owe, and the collection agency should verify the debt. How long ago did you get notified of this collection account? If it was in the last thirty days you should send the collection agency a certified letter stating that you don’t believe you owe the debt and ask them to verify it. You can also dispute it on your credit reports but proceed with caution if you have already or are about to apply for a mortgage. You may need to get a consumer law attorney involved; you may have a case for credit damage if this doesn’t get resolved. (And be sure to let your state attorney general and the CFPB know about your experience.)

  • seahawkgirl13

    I have several accounts in collections at the moment. I can only afford to pay off a few of the smaller amounts in full right now. I have several other larger amounts that I cannot and will not be able to pay off in full anytime in the near future. Would it be best to just pay off the debts I can pay in full right now and ignore the ones that I cant pay in full? Or should I pay off the smaller amounts and then enter into a repayment plan with the debt collection agency for the larger amounts? I know that paying collections can initially hurt your credit score, but right now I am more concerned that I am going to get sued.

  • Jeffrey De Leon

    Is opening another credit thru a store will help increase score even though you have collections in your report but already started putting payments on it?

    • Credit Experts

      It might, if you keep your balances low and pay on time. However, applying for a card will cause a small, temporary drop in your credit score, so it’s a good idea to be relatively confident you will be approved before applying. Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.

  • JM

    I had a credit report done and showed no negative activity and nothing showing as public notice or in collections, but I have a collection agency calling me. Once something is removed from a credit report can it be readded? I was under the impression that I had paid off my outstanding debt. The company won’t provide any details of the alleged original debt either. Just a statement from their company. The date they provided is long beyond the two year statute of limitations. What can I do?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      A collection account cannot be added back to a credit report if it is too old to be reported. The only exception would be if they sue you and get a judgment; that would create a new entry for the judgment. But it may be too late for that.

      I am concerned they aren’t verifying the debt. Proceed with caution and read 7 Things You Need to Know About the Statutes of Limitation for Debt.

  • MS88

    I had a Dr. that sent a bill (which should have been covered by insurance in the first place) to my ex’s address. I had moved out and he held my mail for 11 months. When I finally did get my mail I had a letter from a collection agency for it. I immediately paid the amount (last December). It is on all 3 reports, still showing unpaid (it’s June). The result is my score is down 35 points! Is there anything I can do? I know it is not their fault my mail was not forwarded, but I never received a bill to pay nor did I ever get a call from the Dr. asking for payment. Please help!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I wish I had a simple answer for you. The time to negotiate for removal is before you pay it (and it often doesn’t work, so don’t beat yourself up that you didn’t). You can always try disputing the account via the credit reporting agencies. If it is not confirmed it will be removed.

  • mark

    hi I recently filed bankruptcy and it was cleared in January of 2014 I opened a sprint account in march of 2014 I was having so many problems with sprint reception starting around june when I went to the beach on july 4th weekend I was getting no calls at all, I had escalated it and they just kept saying a lot of people are having a problem im not the only one.. that they are updating there towers, I told them that’s not my problem and im not paying 300 a month for no service or crappy service.. any way they didn’t let me out of my contract I left sprint and now they reported it to collections how can I get this removed?? my car payments and all my accounts including credit cards are all paid on time for a year and a half now…

  • Ann

    What is the statue of limitations 4 years in TX mean? I’ve lived in TX for two years now and am trying to clear up my credit.

    • Credit Experts

      A statute of limitation tells you how long a debt collector has to sue you for collection of debt. That can be and often is different from how long a debt remains on your credit report. You can read more here:
      Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • Brittany

    I’m on fixed income with SSDI and really can’t afford to pay collections. I just read this article and it seems useless to pay a collection if it’s going to stay on your credit anyway for 7.5 years. I do have some questions still. One of them tried to file a lawsuit but couldn’t garnish me since I am on disability income. Is there a way to remove/ignore the collection account although someone already tried to file a lawsuit? Or will it now never end because they’re trying to sue me when I can’t at all be sued because of nothing to garnish (against the law for SSDI to be garnished, at least in my state)? Will it still be removed after 7.5 years, even if a lawsuit was attempted to be filed? We never actually went thru with the lawsuit because I have nothing to garnish, only have paperwork stating they want to sue me. Is this collection never going to go away because of it? And I have 2 collections accounts. The small one (not being “sued for”) is about $1,000. The big one I’m being sued for is about $4,000. And they were started at the end of 2014 (not too long ago), so they are quite new. What do I do now?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      The fact that a lawsuit was initiated shouldn’t affect how long the collection account remains on your credit reports. Just make sure they actually dropped the lawsuit and they are not planning to show up in court to try to get a default judgment. (Sometimes creditors will still sue consumers who can’t pay in the hopes that if things change in the future they can get paid.)

  • Brandon

    I paid and terminated at&t service when I moved out of state. When I called to termi ate service I paid over the phone with visa card and told my balance was at 0 and no further action was required. 3 months later I get a call from collection agency attempting to collect a dept for at&t for $80….but I never rcvd a bill and I put in a forwarding address with the post office. I called at&t and they say they sent me bills but I never got them. The collection agency didn’t even have my address right and at&t didn’t have my new address. Now I have a collection on my report that I have been repairing for 6 years. How do I get it off this is BS!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      We have an article coming out about this later this week. If they think you have a good case, they may be able to help you at no upfront cost. You always have the right to dispute a collection account that you don’t believe you owe. Do so in writing by certified mail right away. Also dispute it with the credit bureaus that are reporting it and keep good records. If it is not removed or resolved, you may need to get the CFPB or a consumer law attorney involved.

      • Brandon

        I went ahead and paid the collection agency over the phone by Visa. They told me the account was in the preliminary stage and hasn’t been reported on my credit report yet. He said since I paid it within 30 days of there attempt to contact me that it won’t show on my report. So I’ll check my report soon and see if in fact its on there or not…

  • Cynthia
  • Parker

    I had a commission recaptured from an annuity company that I used to work for but was no longer actively representing. It started as $1,080 but we were able to make a $300 payment before they sent it to collections. The collection agency has been reporting a debt of $936 while the letter I have from the annuity company says $780. This debt shows open since July of 2009. Can I dispute this?

  • krista mcdowell

    Katherine please help me, how can i do this, im in the process of loosing mine and my daughters home if i cant get my score up and ive talked with each collection place and they wont budge on writing me a letter stating they will remove off my credit report if i pay in full, neither will any of the 3 beaureaus, i dont know where to go from here please help me

  • Charles Natsyn

    Having issues removing a medical debt from my credit report. Back in April 2011, I had minor sugery, at the time I was unemployed and was 100% covered by AHCCCS. Did not think much about it until November 2014 when my wife and I decided to get a house. I noticed I had 2 open negative accounts on my credit report. One for $2,000 & another for $121 from the collection agency Medical Bureau of Economics.
    After researching this information I found out from AHCCCS that they denied payment to the original owners of the debt. Pathology Specialist of AZ , because they put the wrong account number. Well instead of reading it they started billing me.
    AHCCCS sent them (Pathology Specialist)letter on my behalf on March 18th requesting them to contact them regarding the bill.
    I constantly checked in with Bureau of Medical Economics and the acknowledged of receiving it but stated they have 90 day to get on it.
    Well 90 days have passed and I again contacted them. They said I am responsible for the debt because AHCCCS sent them at letter on May 17th stating I was responsible because I misled AHCCCS. I asked for a copy of that letter but was denied.
    So I called AHCCCS and they said they did not have a record of sending that to them during the month of May but they did confirm of sending a document to them like that. I then asked what I was being dishonest about they said I was covered by an insurance company called Pacific Care. I told them I had not been with them since 2007.
    They confirmed and appoligized. I asked them to write me another letter to refute the previous letter. They sent it stating that I was not covered by another insurance and was 100% covered by AHCCCS. They still state that because I signed a letter stating if I give false info I am responsible. Well I never did and AHCCCS confirmed it.
    They still will not remove it and will not take my calls. All for $121.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      My first suggestion is that you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I am having some difficulty following your description of what happened, though, so I hope you don’t mind my suggestion that you get a friend or someone to help you write it up in a way that is easier to follow. If that doesn’t work, then I’d suggest you consider talking with a consumer law attorney with experience in credit reporting and debt collection law. If the collector is breaking the law, the attorney may be able to help you at no out of pocket cost to you.

  • yeahboi

    is using a credit card increase my credit score even though i have bad collections on my credit report

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Over time, recent on time payments on your credit report will help your credit scores. It won’t happen overnight, but as the negative information becomes older it is important to have on-time payments reported. Have you obtained your free credit report card from If not, I’d encourage you to do so. It will provide you with an action plan for your credit.

  • Zeek

    I’m a 22 Year old in my senior year of College. Last year I was working to help my parents pay for my tuition and my own personal bills. I had 4 credit cards at the time and they were all in good standing with me having a credit score of 720. I lost my job and I started to use my credit cards to live by while away in school thinking I’ll find another job to pay them off. A year has went by and I wasn’t able to pay my credit card bills, with the help of my parents I was able to keep 1 account in good standing but the other 3 are in collections with a total debt of 12k and my credit score dropped drastically. I graduate soon and I have a secured job when I’m finish where I’ll be making roughly 5k a month at the least. I want to open my own business in the next two years, so if I pay off all my debt will my credit score go back up within a significant time frame? Or will I have to wait several years for my score to go up? I really need to get my credit back in good standing so I can start building my own brand. Please give me some advice.

  • FnP

    I have three separate collection reports with transUnion. I read that if I just wait it out for 7.5 years it will just go away and they’re from 2010…however I can’t wait any longer. I know if I pay them off it doesn’t mean they will go away, how do I go about paying them off and taking them off my report?? Can the actual collections agency do this.. If I get it in writing? Please help.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      As the article describes, they can stop reporting it if they choose but they are under no obligation to do so. (And in fact the credit reporting agencies strongly discourage pay for delete deals.) You can try to ask but we can’t promise your efforts will be successful.

  • Jasmine Kincaid

    Hi ms. Gerri I am very lost because I called transunion because I seen at least 8 inquiries on my credit report it don’t show I have a past due balance with them or anything they just looked up my credit once upon a time and I’m trying to figure out how do I dispute that off my credit report transunion told me to call the collection agency but I have no direct number to neither one so I called the company and they said they can’t do anything about it do I need to get a lawyer ? I never even used my credit so I’m not sure about how all of it works and how I need to go about doing anything I need a lot of help

    • Gerri Detweiler

      So are you saying your credit report lists inquiries by a collection agency but you have no delinquent accounts or accounts in collections? (Or judgments?)

      I would suggest you first file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You want to be very specific in your complaint. (What you wrote here is a little unclear to me.) Also be specific about what you want to happen here: you want these inquiries off your credit reports and you don’t want this company reviewing your credit in the future.

      The other alternative would be to talk with a consumer law attorney who could tell you if their actions are illegal. Visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates to find one.

  • Richard Lewis Evans

    “Finally, the newer FICO credit scoring model, called “FICO 08,” will ignore collection accounts where the original balance is less than $100.” If this is in effect then this statement is BS. My wife had a 730 credit score mainly because she doesn’t conduct any business. it recently dropped like 50 points. I checked to find out why? A $39.01 medical lab from three years ago that we knew nothing about.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Not all lenders use the most recent versions of FICO scores unfortunately.

  • Katlyn

    Im amazed at how innacurrate the information is one my credit reports. Ive attempeted to resolve with all three agencies and basically got nowhere. Furthermore, when i verified everything over the phone with Experian, they told me i have to PAY for my own credit score. This should be illegal. These companies sit back and collect money from people, are not accurate, have consumers very personal information and are free to report these inaccuracies that literally damage peoples lives. There must be tighter regulations. If they were accurate, all three would have the same information. Its shameful they get away with this.

  • Dawn Marie

    I was denied for something I applied for due to being in collections but I dont even know what I am in collections for..How do I find out and dispute it??

    • Gerri Detweiler

      If you were denied credit, insurance or employment due to an issue with your credit you must be given information about which bureau provided the report and instructions for ordering your free report. That should help you find out what’s on there and give you the chance to dispute it if necessary. (You may also want to get reports from the other two bureaus so you know if it’s on other reports. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports

  • gabby

    I am trying to remove paid accounts off my credit who do I have to send the request letter to if anyone can help please I have no idea how to do this and credit repair companies are so expensive I cant afford them thank you in advance

  • Gerri Detweiler

    No. Unless they get a judgment against you, which would have it’s own reporting period, a collection account that is past 7 years plus 180 days from the original date of delinquency should not be on your credit reports.

  • Shonda

    I had an account go on my credit report as a collection 4 years ago and now the same account has now opened as a new open collection credit account. It’s never going to go off if they keep opening it as a new account. How do I correct this?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    My pleasure. Be sure to monitor your credit to make sure it doesn’t erroneously get reported! Here’s how to get your free credit score updated monthly.

  • Amanda

    I first noticed a delinquent verizon account last year from 4 years ago reporting to my credit as a collection and disputed it right away with the CB’s (as i never opened it) . They reported back to me 30 days later that they had the account closed, show it raised my credit obviously and showed as a closed account on my report. After that , i started receiving calls from collections agencies , whom i told the same thing, this is not my account i never opened a verizon account ( too expensive for my tastes lol) . They would still offer payment arrangements, and i would decline as i am not going to pay for something i didnt open. The most recent experience i had, the guy who called me first was reluctant to provide me his name until i mentioned that he has to provide it to me. He then told me that i had to pay it, and offered to make an arrangment, which i again declined explaining that ive disputed this item , i have no knowledge of the account, and its showing as closed. He said he would update it as a dispute then and provided me next steps to stop the calls etc. A day or two later i get another call from the same company, a woman this time, saying my account was updated as “i would call back” but when i told her what the previous rep said he would do, she apologized and said she would do it for me , and provided me with the same steps he did. 2 weeks later (today) i notice on my credit report that the company has opened a NEW collection flagged account on my report stating delinquent as of last month. My question is: Is this right?? can they report a second collection for the same account that shows as closed? Who do i call? what do i do? Does this start the 7 years all over?


    • Gerri Detweiler

      Amanda – No it’s not right that your credit is damaged by a collection account that is not yours. The first step you must take to protect your rights is to dispute it with the credit reporting agencies. (Keep good records of your disputes and make sure you check all three credit reports.)

      Normally I’d suggest waiting until you see whether it is removed before you talk with an attorney but given how this collection agency reported it even after you told them it wasn’t your debt I’d suggest you talk with one now. The first consultation should be free and if they think you have a good case they may be able to help you at no out of pocket cost to you. (Visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates if you need help finding one.)

      The other alternative would be to file a complaint with the CFPB. Please read: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • ana

    Hi I have debt totaling the amount of almost 12,000 with CC. How can I rebuild my credit?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Ana – Is this debt in collections or are you still making your payments on time?

  • PJ

    Did you get help. I am in the same position and would love help.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      @PJ @Kimmy – It sounds like you are both trying to get accurate but negative information off your credit reports–is that correct?

      I have to warn you that can be a bit of a crapshoot. Sometimes consumers get lucky and information they dispute is not confirmed so it is removed. But if it is confirmed by the source then it will continue to be reported. There is no special language you need to use: you can just ask the credit reporting agency to investigate it. They must then check with the furnisher supplying the data to see whether they believe it is correct.

      If I misunderstood and there are other factors involved, do let us know.

      This article may also be of interest: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

  • Ashley

    Is it better to initiate a collections dispute with the credit bureaus if the debt has passed the statute of limitations or dispute it with the creditor? Are there negative affects with disputing the old debt with the bureaus?

  • TC

    I rented an apartment for 4 months and instead of a refund check, I received a $1200.00 bill. I went through the itemized bill and found that they had made some errors. I have proof and tried to contact the manager at the apartment complex, to which they directed me an account resolution that handles those calls. I have left the person voicemails since May, and no one will call me back. I tried sending out a certified letter, which was finally returned to me, and I sent out a BB report to which they would not respond to. However, they sent me to collections. What should I do at this point?

    • Credit Experts

      You could seek legal advice to see whether an attorney believes you have a strong case.

  • danielle bergman

    I was took off my boyfriends credit cards because he was using all his credit bascually messing up my credit because of his high limits. I am no longer on his accts but on my report it shows up as “terminated” Is this worst than having the cards on there? What can I do about this! Thank You!!

    • Credit Experts

      The T on your credit reports simply means an earlier relationship with the account no longer exists. It should not hurt your credit, and it may help.

  • Shannon

    Question. My son had surgery in 2013 and the surgical coordinator who I met with prior to surgery did not seek pre-approval from my insurance company prior to the surgery. A few months later we received a $8,000.00 bill. When I called the urology office to tell them that they should pay some or all of this bill they refused. They never held the coordinator responsible. This was a procedure that wasn’t urgent and could have held off for a few months. We sought legal counsel for over a year with no help and now a credit collection agency has reported this. I previously had excellent credit and am not sure what to do. Any suggestions?

    • Credit Experts

      We would have advised seeking legal counsel, and it sounds like you have already done that. Once a bill is in collections, it is much harder to negotiate with the original creditor(s). There is no doubt a collection will hurt your credit (even if you pay it). It will hurt less with time, and in the presence of positive information (accounts paid on time). But you will have to make some decisions about what to do. Not paying puts you at risk of being sued and (if you lose) having a judgment against you, which hurts your credit worse than a collection. We wish we had better news.

  • cleaningcredit

    what do you do when you know something is incorrect and dispute it, but the bureau says its verified? I asked for proof of verification and got nothing.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Then I’d suggest you try disputing it with the furnisher (the source) and if that doesn’t resolve it, and you still believe it’s incorrect you can either talk with a consumer law attorney or file a complaint with the CFPB. We discuss that in this article:
      A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Fallon

    Hello my I have a agency bothering me about a medical bill I shouldn’t be paying because I have Medicaid and it was the hospital ER that takes the insurance. Can I send a letter to the agency that is harassing me. Also can I send letters to agency’s that I paid. So they can remove them.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      If you don’t believe you owe a bill that a collection agency is trying to collect, you always have the write to dispute it. The letter you received from them should spell out your right to file a dispute. We recommend you do so by certified mail.

      Then you can check your credit reports. If it is on there you have the right to dispute it. Please read: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

      To protect your rights under two separate federal laws.

      • cbr0422

        Gerri can you help me with something?

        A consumer contacts an original creditor to pay a debt. The creditor tells the consumer the amount that is owed, the consumer pays the amount and is told that their debt is paid in full and they are not responsible for any other amounts. The consumer has record of this conversation and the payment. That creditor then sells some other portion of the debt that the consumer, believing the debt was paid in full, was not informed of and not given the opportunity to pay, to a collection agency. The original creditor acknowledges their representative made a mistake and that the consumer had every reason to believe the debt was paid, but offers no solution other than for the consumer to pay the collection that was unfairly placed on the consumer’s credit report. The consumer does not object to paying the debt, but knows that simply paying the collection will not remove it from their credit report and it will remain for 7 years even after payment. This consumer feels there has been some violation of rights here. Can you offer any advice?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          That certainly doesn’t sound right to me either. You can either file a complaint with the CFPB or contact a consumer protection attorney who normally helps consumers with debt collection problems. Visit th
          the National Association of Consumer Advocates website to find an attorney in your area. You may also want to dispute the collection item on your credit reports. This article explains how: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • max

    I have some collection on my account, but i do not know how to pay them. Like whom should I call to adjust the debt and clear it?

  • Joshua Rodriguez

    Is it true that after 7 years you don’t have to pay that debt ?

  • Alisha Nichole

    Need some advice: last august i moved into a house with my roomate and we were renting a 4 bedroom house three levels alot of work needed to be done when we moved in same fixes it was not until we got int o winter that the base heaters didnt throw out enough heat so it was freezing in the house 247 we complained and complained for them to come out they came out and kept telling us there was nothing they could do and then they dropped of two small space heaters which made our elctricity bill sky rocket they came out again and said that they fixed it my roomate had sat me down one night and said she was going to break the lease well i could not stay there by myself it was way to much for me to afford on my own so that had forced me to find somewhere else to move this was in december she had said this to me so i had told her i will be out by feb 1, a couple months later i told her i would pay my last months rent and she agreed and she would pay the rest after i left she ended up staying there a couple months after i moved out well i got a deliquent rent email from waypoint the company we were renting from and explained that she was palnning to sue and due to the fact she wanted to break the lease due to no heat i had moved in febuary well now im in collection for about 1,000 and not sure how i can fight this please help

    • Gerri Detweiler

      As much as I’d like to help, you’ll need to get some legal advice. The state landlord tenant laws vary, though most will require the home be habitable (and two space heaters may not cut it). You may be able to get advice through Legal Aid at no cost.

  • LaCora Owens

    Hello! I had an 807 credit score until an apartment I was living in put a $182 collection on my credit report. This is a debt that I DO NOT OWE! The office manager there told me before I left that she would put something on my credit report to meet up my score. The collection agency laughs at me and corporate office will not return my calls. Is there anything I can do to have this collection account removed from my profile?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Have you tried disputing it with the credit reporting agencies? If not then that’s what I suggest you do next. If it is confirmed as correct then you’ll need to move on to step five or six in this article:
      A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Isabelle

    @gerridetweiler:disqus I have not read the comments below. I am quickly inquiring about the removal of a Citibank student loan charge off amt. They sent me to collections but the collection agency doesn’t show up on my credit report. It just shows Citi bank. I ended paying the debt in less than 2 yrs. It was paid off in May 2012. Would it make sense to write a letter to Citi bank requesting that they possibly remove this item or remove it in less than 7 yrs? I am looking to buy a home and this is the only item heavily impacting the lenders decision.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      So it’s just a charge off on your credit report? Those are hard to get removed. You can try disputing it but there’s a risk you could create another problem as we describe in this article: Can a Credit Report Stop Me from Buying a Home?

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