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How to remove collections from your credit report

Accounts in collections can really harm your credit score, but there are ways to remove them.

An account in collections can do heavy damage to your credit score, falling among some of the worst marks you can have reported. There are a few ways to remove a collection account from your credit reports, but the best medicine for negative marks is time.

3 ways to remove a collection account

Be prepared to contact a debt collection agency or creditor if you want an account removed for good. Here are three ways to get a collection off your report to begin building good credit again.

1. Wait for them to fall off

This is really the only foolproof way to remove a collection account from your credit report: Wait for the account to fall off.

Nearly all negative marks fall off your credit reports naturally after seven years. And as time goes on, their impact on your credit score decreases. Whether it’s a paid or unpaid collection account, it will remain for up to seven years from the original delinquency date — the date that the account becomes no longer “current.”

2. Pay to delete

You may be able to work with your creditor directly or the collection agency to do a “pay to delete” agreement. It’s an arrangement where you agree to pay the debt if they remove the negative mark from your credit report.

For the best chances of a creditor agreeing to this, you may have to pay the entire outstanding balance or most of it, often with a lump sum payment. If agreed, you’ll pay the debt, and the creditor or collection agency contacts the credit bureaus to remove the negative marks associated with the account from your credit reports.

3. Prove it’s inaccurate

If the collection account has an inaccurate status on your credit report, or you believe the creditor shouldn’t have sent it to collections, you can dispute it.

For example, if a creditor sold an account to collections because they believe it was 180 days past due, but you’ve been paying the account on time, you can send proof to the creditor and credit bureaus that you’ve paid the account and the reporting action is incorrect.

With proof, the credit bureau and creditor can update your account status and remove the inaccurate information. You can also file a dispute for a collection account if it remains longer than it should, as it should disappear after seven years.

You can file a dispute via the credit bureau site, phone or by mail. The credit bureaus have 30 days to respond to the dispute.

Will paying off collection accounts remove them?

Unfortunately, paying off a collection account won’t remove it from your credit reports. Paying it off changes its status to “paid,” but it continues to do damage until it falls off.

However, paying off a collection account may increase your credit score. If you only have one account in collections, there’s a good chance you’ll see an increase in your credit score once it’s paid off. But if you have multiple accounts in collections, any increase to your credit score after paying one is likely to be marginal.

When do accounts get sent to collections?

An account gets sent to a debt collection agency after 180 days of no payments, but some creditors may send them much sooner or wait longer. A creditor attempts to collect the debt themselves before they sell the account to collections, as it’s usually considered a last resort.

The creditor may change the account’s status themselves, or the debt collection agency may report the account to the bureaus. If a creditor has sold your debt to a third-party collection agency, contact the debt collection agency to resolve the account.

How to find collection accounts

You can look through your credit reports to locate any collection accounts, check their status and see when they were originally reported.

You can get a free weekly copy from each credit bureau from AnnualCreditReport.com or the bureau’s websites. The three major credit bureaus are Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, and requesting or checking your credit reports won’t impact your credit score.

Bottom line

Having accounts in collections can really do a number on your credit score, but it’s also the associated late and missed payments that do heavy damage. Before collection status, you’ve likely had multiple missed payments also harming your credit score. But just like collection accounts, missed payments fall off your credit reports after seven years.

While you wait for collection accounts to fall off, or you work to pay them down, there are other things you can do to boost your credit score, such as paying all other bills on time, keeping your credit utilization ratio low and avoiding new debt while you get things sorted.

If you have multiple accounts in collections and lots of debt that’s become unmanageable, it may be time to consider a credit repair company. They can’t do anything you can’t do on your own, but they can contact creditors and collection agencies for you to help organize, settle and resolve debt and begin working on your credit again.

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6 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    NamMay 11, 2019

    I have one default under my name and I’m planning to repay the company the amount due. I need to know what is the next step when I’m done repaying the amount. Is the default going to disappear after the payment or should I contact credit repair specialist to remove the default?

      AvatarFinder
      MaiMay 11, 2019Finder

      Hi Nam,

      Thank you for reaching out.

      If the default payment is not yet sold to collection agencies, it should disappear from your records after you have paid it, otherwise it will stay on your records up to 7 years (plus 180 days from the delinquency date).

      You need to make sure that your lender forwards the report to credit reporting agencies for removal of the listing once you are paid to avoid having it on your records for up to 7 years.

      Please also note that the this may only be apply for the users in the USA and may not be the same for other country.

      Hope this helps! 😊

      Kind Regards,
      Mai

    Default Gravatar
    JangMarch 12, 2019

    How much does it cost to remove default on my credit report and how long will take to do so?

      AvatarFinder
      JeniMarch 15, 2019Finder

      Hi Jang,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Kindly refer to the comparison table on this page and check the provider’s features/benefits and when you have decided who to deal with on your default concern, please click the Go to site button to be redirected to the provider’s official page. The cost as well as the time frame varies on the provider as well as the number of your negative listings.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    EdreiOctober 30, 2018

    How much to removed the defaults please

      Default Gravatar
      joelmarceloOctober 30, 2018

      Hi Edrei,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      You can call a credit repair company for a consultation at any time, but remember that credit repair can only remove incorrect or illegitimate listings. Keep these factors in mind before moving forward with a credit repair service.

      Credit repair can either be free or it can cost upwards of a thousand dollars — it’s up to you how you want to handle it. Here are your options:

      – DIY credit repair: $0
      You don’t have to pay someone or a service to repair your credit, you can do it yourself, however it’ll take time and patience to do the research and implement what you’ve learned. You’re entitled to a free credit report from the three major credit bureaus each year, so start there to begin auditing your credit report for mistakes.

      If you find any suspicious information on your credit report, each credit bureau has an online form where you can make a dispute to remove errors for free. If you’d rather make your dispute via mail, you can find a number of sample dispute letters online and then send them to the bureaus — your only cost here would be postage.

      – Credit repair software: $30-$400+
      Credit repair software can be minimal or very in-depth. On the minimal side, you can purchase software relatively cheap and it’ll come with a sample dispute letter and give you directions on how to handle each situation regarding incorrect details on your credit report.

      The in-depth software can cost a few hundred dollars, but it’s loaded with sample dispute letters for different situations, alerts notifying the progress of your dispute, plus it can track your credit score. The really high-end software can even provide a credit expert to walk you though the process.

      – Professional credit repair services: $10-$100 setup fee + $30-$100 monthly
      Professional credit repair services means hiring a state licensed credit repair attorney to do all of the legwork on your behalf. This option can save you time, but will be the most costly. The service is typically priced with an initial setup fee and then you pay per month — about $60 to over $100 — until you’re satisfied with the credit repair program.

      Please send me a message if you need anything else. :)

      Cheers,
      Joel

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