It’s almost impossible to get by in our modern world without credit.
We use credit to secure credit cards, use it to alleviate our financial obligations, use it to purchase vehicles and homes, and even use it to take advantage of new financial opportunities, build businesses, and get the kind of education we need to take our lives to the next level.
Unfortunately for many, credit also has a bit of a dark side – particularly if you have been anything but ridiculously careful with your credit, your repayment history, and your credit utilization levels.
It’s very easy for just a few small bumps in the road to completely derail our finances.
According to different industry reports, the average American has to scrape and scrounge to meet a $500 emergency financial obligation, and many of them do not have the credit score necessary to get a short-term loan to flow those kinds of issues without headache or hassle.
Should your credit have a couple of collections on it already (or even just a single collections account) the odds are pretty good that you’ve watched your score go into a tailspin.
The odds are also pretty good that you’ve been told – especially by people that you trust – that there is no way to get your score backup while a collection is on your account, and that you’ll have to wait seven years (SEVEN YEARS) until that collection falls off and you can build your credit back up again.
Well, we are happy to tell you that NOTHING could be further from the truth.
Sure, you’re going to have to do a handful of very strategic, very savvy, and little-known things to unlock your credit from collections and even have these collections accounts removed from your credit score completely.
But by the time you’re done with the inside information in this quick guide you will know EXACTLY how to get collections off of your credit report so that you can begin rebuilding your financial life ASAP.
Let’s dive right in!
Is it really possible to learn how to remove collections from a credit report early?
As we highlighted above, most collections are going to stay on your credit report for upwards of seven years before they “drop off” – but there are a handful of things that can make those collections stay on your account even longer than that.
For starters, even just reaching out to a collections agency and speaking to them about your specific debt can be enough to reset the clock and start the seven year collections timer all over again. You’ll want to make sure that this isn’t EVER in approach you take (outside of a handful of times, utilizing strategies we highlight below).
Secondly, though, is that you can actually figure out how to remove collections from a credit report early – kicking those collections off of your report as though they didn’t exist in the first place. This can happen almost immediately after you receive a collections notice, a couple of years down the line, or anywhere in between the moment that your collection shows up on your credit report and the moment it is about to fall off.
That’s what we hope to help you with below!
You’ll be able to use the specific strategies we highlighted in this quick guide to figure out how to remove collections from credit reports, but also how to remove medical collections from credit reports – collections that can feature some sky high debt numbers, that’s for sure.
Right out of the gate, however, it’s enough to know that it is possible to figure out how to remove paid collections from a credit report. You’ll be able to move through this process with a lot less headache and hassle than you ever expected, too.
Dispute your debt
The first tool that you have in your arsenal for removing debt collector accounts from your credit report is a simple dispute, something that you can process all on your own with about five minutes of your time.
All you have to do is look up your credit report (you can do so using any of the major credit bureaus), find a debt collections account on your credit score, and simply use the credit report dispute tools that are built right into these reporting agencies.
Most people on to the impression that they are only ever going to be able to dispute this debt if it is in some way erroneous, but that’s not exactly the entire truth. According to the law, you’ll be able to dispute debts even if you do believe that they are legitimate yours but if you feel that the debt collection agency isn’t legally able to collect from you themselves.
This spends things into a debt validation process. A debt collector has to then prove that YOU personally all the debt that they are looking for, and it’s not at all uncommon for their records to be incomplete. If they cannot prove within 30 days that you personally are responsible for the debt that they are trying to collect, they must drop the collection from your account and your credit score completely.
Dispute your debt whenever collection agents sell it off
Every six months or so, collection accounts are sold to other debt collectors that are looking to discharge the debt that they have been hunting.
Debts are assigned and sold to different collection agencies, and if the collection agency listed on your credit report is not be agency that is currently collecting on your debt, you’ll be able to have the collection dropped completely from your credit report.
It’s also not a bad idea to dispute your collection account with a new debt collector immediately after the sale has been processed. As we highlighted above, paperwork and evidence that you actually on the debt is not at all uncommonly lost in the shuffle. Should they lose your documentation, or not be able to furnish your documentation within 30 days, the account must come off of your credit report.
Pay for Delete actually works
A lot of people are, for one reason or another, under the impression that it’s impossible to negotiate with debt collectors – or even the people that originally owned your debt to begin with.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Obviously, you’ll first want to try to dispute any and all of the collections that you have on your account and wait the 30 days necessary for your collections agency to furnish records or not.
If the debt collection agency is able to furnish records within that 30 day block of time, you’ll then have the opportunity to offer a pay for delete agreement to these collection agencies.
This is essentially a certified letter that you’ll send to the collection agency stating that you have interest in paying on your account. Usually you’ll be able to offer a lowball figure to the debt collection agency (that has purchased your debt for pennies on the dollar, no less) if they in turn agree to delete the record of a collection off of your credit report in exchange for the payment that you are making.
If you receive an affirmative from the collection agency, make sure that they agreed to sign a copy of the letter and return it to you before you send over any payment whatsoever. This is a huge piece of the puzzle.
A lot of people take the time to negotiate these kinds of deals over the phone, mostly because collection agencies are more interested in getting as much money from you as possible.
They’ll try to push you towards a higher agreement, but because you have all of the leverage – if they won’t play ball, you could simply wait them out until the collection agency sells your debt or the seven-year trigger – you should usually be able to get them down to the number that you are comfortable with.
All the same, be sure that you never send over ANY payment until you have a signed copy of your pay for delete agreement in your possession. Without this agreement, you’ll lose all leverage, will reset your seven-year countdown, and will have to go through the entire process all over again.
Should you make your payment after receiving your signed agreement and still notice that your credit report hasn’t been adjusted after 30 days, dispute the debt, provide the credit bureau with a copy of your agreement and proof of payment, and they will personally remove the collection from your account for you.
Inquire about Goodwill Deletions
There are two different kinds of goodwill deletions that you’ll want to look into, the first having to do with the overwhelming majority of debt that you may have taken a and the second having to do with medical debt in specific.
The first type of goodwill deletions we are speaking about has to do with collection accounts that you have already paid off without realizing that you could have done a pay for delete letter and had your account cleared up completely.
These are a bit of a Hail Mary, for sure – particularly when you’re doing business with collection agencies that are usually anything but empathetic – but are still worthwhile if you’re looking to fix your score.
Simply write a letter saying that you have already paid off the account and ask the credit bureau or the collection agency to remove the debt from your account out of the goodness of their heart. Ask them to remove it simply because it’s continuing to damage your life even though you have taken action to pay back the debt.
It’s impossible to know whether or not that’s going to work, and some collection agencies are going to be more likely to take this kind of action if you call in person first then others. It’s not a totally useless gesture, however, and is worthwhile to attempt.
The second kind of goodwill deletions we are talking about has to do with you speaking directly to the medical clinic, hospital, or doctor’s office that you have racked up debt with.
These organizations almost always have individuals in their debt collections department assigned to find goodwill cases where debt forgiveness kicks in and the hospital foots the bill of the ENTIRETY of the medicine, procedure, or expenses incurred along the way.
These kinds of organizations are willing to do so because it’s not only a major tax write off and advantageous to their bottom line, but also because it builds quite a bit of good publicity and goodwill towards the hospital and organization in the local community. These kinds of operations do not want to be seen as heartless or difficult to work with, though they may or may not provide you with a goodwill deletion depending upon a whole host of different factors.
At the end of the day, it’s a lot easier to have bad marks removed from your credit report (and a whole lot faster than the traditional seven years it takes most people to have them removed) than you would have ever expected.
Be sure to use all of the inside information we have highlighted above in conjunction with your own research and due diligence and you should have no trouble at all getting your credit report cleaned up a lot faster than it would have been cleaned up otherwise.
Obviously, you’ll want to do everything you can in the future to keep your finances in order. Take advantage of credit opportunities only when they are the right decision to make (and not simply when they become available) and you’ll have a lot less to worry about when it comes time to build your credit score over during the recovery.
With the tricks we highlighted above, and solid credit rebuilding strategies, it shouldn’t be difficult for ANYONE to restore and rebuild their credit back to 700 or so inside of 12 to 24 months.
The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll start to see your credit climb again!
Editor at CreditRepairExpert
Steven is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Credit Counselor (CCC) and joined CreditRepairExpert in June 2016 as a Credit Repair Adviser to continue his mission of making a difference in the world. Everyday, Steven speaks with individuals and families in the online credit repair community to answers questions and offer help people on their journey to repair their credit rating. If you have a story idea for Steven or you would like help with credit repair, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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