Anyone who has collection accounts on their credit report wants to get rid of them. The question becomes how can you do that. The first thing to remember is that by law, they can be reported to the credit agencies for 7 1/2 years from the date you stopped making payments. Now there are some tips to try and get these types of accounts removed but it is not an easy task.
One of the first things you want to do is get an accurate picture of your situation by getting your credit reports and scores. You want to get an idea of what is being reported and what the effect is on your score. The good news is that you have access to your credit report each year from each of the agencies at no charge – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can also access two credit scores at no charge ( from Experian and VantageScore 3.0) from Credit.com.
Collection agencies may be able to get the past due account removed in turn 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 the collection agency is open to this option, let them know you would like to make a payment if they agree to then remove the account from your report. If they agree, you want 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. The one thing you want to do with the correspondence is to send everything via certified mail with return receipt. You want to have that 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 and this was just an unusual slip up, you may get somewhere with writing a goodwill letter to your creditor to get a debt collection off your report. 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 and it will continue to have a negative effect, but a paid collection is better for your credit than an unpaid one. You will at least be able to 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 as some collectors will try and push back that date in an effort to keep the debt on your report for longer. With all this being said, if you cannot get it off, 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 inaccuracies, take notes and get them removed or updated. There are instances where a creditor has to look at their collections and validate them and if they are unable to, 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 get it removed.
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 and as the collection gets older, there is a higher probability that the creditor will ignore any requests from the credit bureaus.
Having a collection account on your report is no fun but it is also not reason to panic. The above steps can help you get the delinquent account removed. 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.