If you are looking to remove collection accounts from your credit report, the task isn't easy, but there are strategies to try. One of the first things you want to do is get an accurate picture of your situation by getting your credit reports and scores.
The good news is that you have access to a free credit report every year from each of the agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can also access two credit scores at no charge ( from Experian and VantageScore 3.0) from Credit.com.
The first thing to remember is that by law, collection accounts can be reported to the credit agencies for 7 1/2 years. This starts from the date you stopped making payments. Collection agencies may be able to remove the collection accounts in return for payment. You have a couple of options on how to achieve this. You can write a letter letting them know you want to pay off the account. If they agree to then remove the account from your report, let them know you would like to make a payment. Make sure to get a signed copy of the letter so you have proof.
The second option you have is to try and get them to agree to a deletion over the phone. Just make sure you get something in writing to the agreement before you make any payments. Any correspondence should be sent via certified mail with return receipt. You want to have proof should any issues arise. Once you have made payment, verify that the account was deleted from your report. If not, you need to dispute this with the credit bureau and supply them with that agreement and proof of payment.
If you usually have great credit, you may get somewhere with writing a goodwill letter to your creditor. This only works if you have paid off the debt already. Just be sure to send your letter certified mail with a receipt so you have proof it arrived. This type of request does actually work so if you have decent credit history, it is worth a try. There are also plenty of goodwill letter templates online to help you out.
If all else fails, pay off the collection account. Now this will not improve your score. It will continue to have a negative effect, but a paid collection is better for your credit than an unpaid one. This will show any future lenders that you are capable of taking care of your financial responsibilities. Just be sure to make note of the date your account became delinquent. Some collectors will try and push back that date to keep the debt on your report for longer. In the end, if you are unable to remove the collection accounts, the impact it has on your score will be less and less as the debt gets older.
If you find a delinquent account on your report that is not yours, do not pay it. You will need to submit a formal dispute to have it removed. If there are any other debt collection accounts that are inaccurate, take notes and get them removed or updated. There are instances where a creditor has to look at their collections and validate them. If they are unable to, they must remove them. This also applies to receiving notification of a collection. Within the first 30 days of receiving a notice, you should contact the collection agency and ask for debt validation. If you do not get a response or they cannot present proper proof, they will be forced to remove the debt from your report.
Around the six month mark, collection agencies usually switch up their accounts by selling them to other collectors. For this reason, whomever is listed on your credit report may not be the current collection agency. What you should do is dispute the older collection with the credit bureaus to remove the collection accounts.
If you fail to get the collection removed, you can wait a few months and dispute it again for another reason. There are several reasons you can submit a dispute. In addition, as the collection gets older, there is a higher probability that the creditor will ignore any requests from the credit bureaus.
As you can see, there are options that will help you remove collection accounts from your credit report. Even if you are not successful in removing the account, the older it gets, the less impact it has on your credit score. If you settle the debt and cannot get it removed, give it time. If it is just a one time collection, you should rebound quickly. Keep in mind as well that signing up with a reputable credit repair company is also a smart option.