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How to Remove Collections From a Credit Report


September 2, 2021 ( Newswire) Missing payments is guaranteed to hurt your credit score. This is the single most influential factor in both VantageScore and FICO models. When you default on any loan, the financial institution may sell your debt to a collector. This information appears as an adverse event in your history and inevitably affects your status (i.e., score).

Like other negative items such as bankruptcies and late payments, these derogatory marks stay on your records for seven years - even if you make the payment in full. If the information is true, your options are very limited. If it is inaccurate, you may get it removed more easily - check one of these Lexington Law reviews to see how this works. 

1. Pay to Delete: When It Works

As the account in collections is detrimental to the score, you may be tempted to use the 'pay for delete option'. As part of the arrangement, the collector will remove the information from the data they share with the bureaus, while you will pay off the debt. However, this practice falls into a gray legal area, and it does not always work.

If these items were removed all the time, personal credit files would not be an accurate reflection of financial reliability. Therefore, this practice is often prohibited by the bureaus. Your collector may be unable to remove the entry.

On the other hand, some institutions do manage to erase the information or make it less damaging. If you are offered such a deal, study the agreement carefully. You should have it in writing to use as proof.

In a situation when the original agency passes your account to another collector, you may end up with two separate derogatory marks - from the original debt, now classified as a "charge off", and the paid account. In this case, the suggested method will work for the current holder, but not for the original agency, as your debt is no longer on its books.

2. Removing Erroneous Data

Consumers find different types of inconsistencies in their histories, from wrong amounts to false items, including paid collections. To see if this is the case, go to to download your files from the three bureaus. Until April 20th, 2022, you can do this for free once a week. What should you do if you see an account that does not belong to you?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects your rights, so you may initiate a dispute with the bureau or bureaus that made the mistake. All reporting agencies have an obligation to provide only verifiable information and delete errors. To initiate the procedure, you need to collect evidence to back up your claim and send a formal letter.

The bureau will start an internal investigation, liaising with the lender and collector involved. If they fail to provide evidence, the item will disappear from your records, pushing the score up. Note that collectors may report to one, two, or three bureaus, so you may need to initiate several separate disputes. The most efficient way to remove such flaws is with the help of a restoration (repair) professional. 

3. Disputing Sold Collections

When debts get sold from one collector to another, this may cause inconsistencies in consumers' reports. When you fail to meet obligations for a specific period, the agency decides to pass the debt to someone else. As a result, the organization listed on your file may not be the agency you settled your debt with.

There is just one scenario that makes negotiations possible - if you still have other debts with the original collector. Ask the agency to delete the charge-offs. You will have to settle your outstanding debts in return. Here, a written agreement is also essential, and you should also get confirmation from the lender and the bureau concerned.

4. Asking for Deletion

Finally, if your financial background is otherwise positive, you may try asking the lender to delete the paid collection. This is known as a goodwill deletion, and it is not guaranteed. Write a convincing letter showing your determination to keep your finances in order, and explain how emergencies in the past influenced your ability to fulfill the obligations. Make sure your tone is courteous and professional. Remember that the institution is not obliged to grant your request.

5. Waiting

Sometimes, all attempts to eradicate a paid collection fails. In this case, all you can do is wait for it to expire naturally, which will happen in seven years. In the meantime, you can generate positive history to neutralize the damage, at least to a degree.

First, make all payments on time. Skipping due dates is extremely damaging to your score, as prior payments determine 35% and 40% off of FICO and VantageScore, respectively. If you find yourself in a difficult financial situation, contact the lender immediately to negotiate a solution. They may agree to approve refinancing or restructuring. If you are just a few days late, you may get lucky, as banks normally report payments as past due in 30 days. 

Secondly, keep the utilization at 10% or lower. This is the ratio between the sum of your balances and the sum of limits across credit cards. There are several ways to reduce it: by paying off the balance, extending the limit, getting a new card, or becoming an authorized user on someone else's account. 

The Bottom Line

Collections do not disappear from reports once you pay them. This information continues to affect your score for seven years. If it is accurate, you can wait for it to disappear naturally or negotiate a solution via the pay-to-delete scheme. The latter is a controversial legal area, so the result is not guaranteed.

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