Looking For Debt Relief Options Related To The Coronavirus
If youre having a hard time making payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic, youre not alone. Millions of Americans have experienced layoffs, furloughs and cut hours at work, which may make it difficult for many to pay rent, mortgages, auto loan bills, utilities, credit card bills and more.
Fortunately, the federal government, some mortgage and auto lenders, along with some credit card issuers have announced measures that might help relieve some financial burden and help you manage your payments and debt. Below is a summary of those resources.
Can Collections Accounts Really Be Removed
Having previous experience with collections, I have used several ways to remove debt. My first was hiring a credit repair company. The items that they removed increased my credit score by over 70 points.
The disputed a charge from a previous landlord where I was the co-applicant. They also removed an old collection that lingered after the seven years.
With the help of the credit repair company, I was able to remove over seven derogatory items from my report. That gave me great hope for the future.
I was also successful with a couple of pay-for-deletions. Utilizing the pay-for-deletion strategy, I was able to remove a delinquent phone bill and an old cable bill.
My journey to good credit involved purchasing a new car and a house. So I incorporated other methods of dealing with collections.
If you have exhausted all previous methods to no avail, there is still hope of increasing your credit score. The method below should be the last Hail Mary, in terms of dealing with collections.
Some of my decisions were based on the newer FICO scoring models , where paid collections are better for your credit score than having an unpaid collection.
I was facing a medical bill over $4K, and did not want to set up a payment plan to reactivate the debt. Through some research, I learned of charity care, where the health care provider pays for your bills or old debt if you can prove you have or had a financial hardship at the time of service.
Does The Open Date Of A Collection Account Determine When It’s Removed
It sometimes takes a year or more between an account’s charge-off and its sale to a collection agency, and collection agencies that fail to collect their debts sometimes resell them to still other agencies. That means multiple collection account entriesall related to the same unpaid debtmay appear on your credit reports.
While that’s not great news, you need not worry that each new entry has its own seven-year countdown to expiration. Any collection entries related to the same original debt will disappear from your credit report seven years from the date of the first missed payment that led up to the charge-off.
You May Like: What Credit Score For Care Credit
How Long Before A Collection Is Reported To The Credit Bureau
Once an account goes about 150 days past due, a creditor will turn the account over to collections. They will either pass it on to their in-house collections department or sell the debt to a collection agency for pennies on the dollar.
The collection agency will attempt to collect the debt from you. Usually, you are given a few weeks to settle the debt before reporting to the Credit Bureaus. However, they may also report it immediately.
If at all possible, it is best to work out a settlement arrangement with the collection company before it is listed on your report. They will work out a payment arrangement with you. This way, you can avoid the account from hurting your credit history.
Are Medical Collections Different
For years, medical collections were treated the same as all other collections.
But FICO has updated its scoring to treat medical collections differently. Medical collections now carry less weight when your credit score is calculated.
The newest FICO scoring model puts even less emphasis on medical debt.
Again, this doesnt mean a medical collection wont affect your ability to get a loan. Lenders dont just look at your credit score to make their loan decisions.
They usually pull your entire credit report and notice your past negative items. This, in turn, will affect your approval as well as the interest rate.
This is especially true when youre applying for a mortgage.
Also Check: Does Ashley Furniture Repossession
There Are Some Actions You Can Take To Challenge Inaccurate Misleading Or Unfair Reporting Of Medical Bills From Your Credit Report
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Laws editorial disclosure for more information.
If youve recently had a medical cost that you know you cant afford to pay, you might be wondering if unpaid medical bills show up on your credit report. The answer is yes, they canand they can potentially decrease your . Medical bills are similar to other credit billsif you make late payments or miss payments, theyll be reported to the credit bureaus. If your medical debt is sent to collections, that will also show up on your credit report.
How Does Collections Affect My Credit Score
Having debt in collections definitely negatively impacts your credit score. Paying off the debt will likely improve your score with credit bureaus that use FICO 9 or Vantage Score 3.0 or 4.0 the newest versions of credit scoring.
Debt in collections is considered under payment history the biggest factor in the most common credit score, FICO. Payment history drives 35 percent of your score.
Some lenders have special policies that prohibit them from lending to people with unpaid debts in collection.
Recommended Reading: Does Snap Report To Credit Bureaus
What Are Typical Collection Accounts
Wondering what companies report bad debt or collections? You may be surprised at the various types of reporters. Voluntary reporting can be done by:
- Rental companies
- Government agencies
Typically, people report amounts in excess of $100 when delinquent. They usually submit delinquencies greater than 30 days, but some smaller amounts may stray onto the report.
Some accounts will list delinquencies of 30+ days, 60+, 90+, etc. The greater the delinquency date, the most damage is done to your score, and the worse you look to potential lenders.
Review The Claim Results
Reporting agencies and lenders usually take around 30 days to investigate disputes. Once they make a decision, they must notify you within five days of completing their review. The notice will inform you if the disputed item was found to be inaccurate or not.
If the disputed information was, in fact, inaccurate, the bureau must update or delete the item. They should include a free copy of your file if the dispute results in a change.
If the bureau or lender considers the disputed information isn’t a mistake, you can file an additional claim. Review your initial claim for any errors and correct those. If possible, you should include additional documents to support your request as this can help the bureau evaluate any data it might have missed the first time around.
You May Like: Credit Score Needed For Les Schwab Credit
If A Collection Is On Your Report In Error Dispute It
You may have a collections account on your credit report that shouldnt be there. Maybe its too old to still be reported, or the collection itself is incorrect.
Too old to be reported: Delinquent accounts should fall off your credit report seven years after the date they first became and remained delinquent. But that doesnt always happen. For debts that linger longer than they should, file a dispute with any credit bureau that still lists the debt.
If a credit bureau has made a mistake on your report if you dont recognize the account or a paid account shows as unpaid, for example gather documentation supporting your case. Then, file a dispute by using the credit bureau’s online process, by phone or by mail. The bureau has 30 days to respond.
Collection is incorrect: If you think the error is on the part of the debt collector, not the credit bureau, ask the collector to validate the debt to make sure its yours. Note that you have 30 days from the date the collector first contacted you to dispute the validity of the debt. If the collector cant validate, the collection should come off your reports. Follow up to make sure.
What To Do When You Cant Pay Back A Debt
You should do everything within your power to avoid letting a debt go unpaid. Otherwise youll risk significant damage to your credit scores and a major blemish on your credit reports for years to come.
However, if youre facing a financial challenge, such as extreme medical debt or an abrupt loss of income, and find that you cant pay the debt, that doesnt automatically mean the collection agency has a right to take everything you own. In the worst-case scenario, the agency will try to garnish your wages or seize your property. These extreme actions are only possible, however, if the contract you signed with the original creditor and state law allow for them.
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act regulates the means and tactics that debt collectors may use to entice consumers to pay. Its important to know what kind of conduct is allowed, so you can report and avoid debt collectors who violate the law.
For example, collection agencies cannot misrepresent themselves, the amount you owe or the actions they plan to take to get you to pay. There are limitations to the collectors ability to seek remediation through the courts, as well as how they may add collection fees.
The best thing to do if you are ultimately unable to pay your debt is to seek legal help. If you have multiple accounts in collections and the totals are well beyond your ability to create a realistic payment arrangement, you should consult with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.
Read Also: Will Carmax Approve You With Bad Credit
Break Out The Magnifying Glass And Look For Errors
Suppose step one didnt yield a result that works in your favor. In that case, you can obtain a copy of all three credit reports and look for any inaccuracieseven minor inaccuracies matter.
Once you have the credit reports in hand, review them carefully for even the slightest inaccuracies. Consider all of the dates, names, balances owed and everything else detailed about the debt. If you spot any errors in the credit reports, you can dispute these with the relevant credit bureau. The will, in turn, be responsible for investigating the errors on their end. And, if they cannot ultimately verify the information, they may drop the medical collection item from your credit report.
Dispute The Collection If You Found An Error
If the goodwill letter falls flat and the debt collection remains on your credit report, its time for a more advanced method.
For this, you will need a current copy of your credit report. TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax provide you with a free credit report once a year.
Once you have your credit reports in hand , find the negative item youd like removed and check it out closely.
Confirm all the details and if you see anything inaccurate, report the inaccurate information to the major credit reporting agencies.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA requires credit reporting agencies to show only accurate information in your credit history.
If you can find inaccurate information, the credit bureau will have to fix the information. Though, if it cant fix the errors, the bureau should remove the collections from your credit report.
This method can work because, rather than simply disputing the entire entry, you are going to write an advanced dispute letter that lists especially what is inaccurate.
Using this letter, you will insist that each piece of information is corrected or that the collection be removed.
This makes it more difficult for the credit agencies to verify the collection and hopefully result in them simply removing the collection altogether.
ITEMS ON THE COLLECTION ENTRY TO CHECK FOR INACCURACIES:
- Anything else that appears to be inaccurate
Also Check: Synch Ppc
Common Credit Report Errors To Look Out For
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, these are the most common errors consumers find on their credit history:
- Wrong name, address or phone number
- Accounts from someone with a similar name
- New credit accounts opened by someone who stole your identity
Incorrect account status
- Accounts wrongfully labeled as open, past due or delinquent
- Accounts that wrongfully listed you as the owner instead of authorized user
- Wrong date for the last payment received, date the account was opened or delinquency status
- Same debt listed multiple times
- Information that is not removed, despite already being disputed and corrected
- Accounts that are listed multiple times, with different creditors
- Incorrect credit limit
How To Fight Back Against Medical Debt Collectors
After you have gathered the information on the medical debt collection account, there are steps you need to take to get it removed from your Credit Report. First off, do not talk to debt collectors, just acknowledging a debt can re-age it and destroy your credit scores. Only communicate through US Mail . I highly recommend setting up a Free Credit Restoration Consultation with one of our professionals. That way you can have us map out a plan of action for you. We even have an attorney that will work on your file at no extra cost, if he finds Legal Violations, he makes the Debt Collector pay a settlement. If they pay the settlement, you get paid! Lots of consumers are using form letters and disputing online and making their situation worse.
But as I promised, Im going to tell you How To Legally Remove Medical Debt Collections From Your Credit Report.
Read Also: Realpage Credit Inquiry
Where Delinquent Debt Goes: Third
When you cant pay your debt, most creditors follow a similar process to increase their chances of persuading you to pay. One of the tools at their disposal is selling your debt to a third-party collection agency.
When a debt has been purchased in full by a collection agency, the new account owner will usually notify the debtor by phone or in writing. Selling or transferring debt from one creditor or collector to another can happen without your permission. However, it typically doesnt happen without your knowledge.
If you receive a debt validation letter, you may want to contact a not-for-profit consumer protection organization that can help you navigate the collections process, as it can get complicated and lengthy. For example, if a collector is unable to make satisfactory arrangements with a consumer after a few months, the individual debt may be bundled with many others and sold to another collection agency. That process can be repeated many times over, even beyond the applicable statute of limitations for the consumers debt.
Request Removal Of Negative Reporting
Negative information about legitimate debts must generally be removed from your credit report after seven years, even if you did not pay the account in full. For charge offs, the credit bureaus are given seven years and an extra 180 days to remove the account.
Each state has its own statute of limitations that restricts the timeframe when a creditor can and can no longer sue you for debt. If youâve owed the debt for a long time and you donât have money to pay the debt, thereâs a good chance you might be judgment proof, which means a creditor is unlikely to sue you because you donât have nonexempt money or assets available to pay the debt. Knowing your rights can keep you from paying a debt thatâs past the statute of limitations so you can focus on managing your current debt.
Negative information on your report that is over seven years old can affect your credit score. You can request removal of negative items over seven years old by filling out an online form on the website of the credit bureau or by mailing a certified mail return receipt requested letter to the credit bureau giving them the details of the debt and age of debt. If they do not remove the debt, then that inaction could be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
S To Take When You Receive A Notice That Your Debt Is Transferred To A Collection Agency
If you receive a notice that your creditor will transfer your debt to a collection agency, contact your creditor as soon as possible.
You may be able to:
- pay a portion of the amount or the full amount owed to avoid having the debt transferred to collections
- make alternate arrangements with your creditor to pay back your debt
He Monitored His Credit On Credit Sesame
Marion relied on the Credit Sesame mobile app and others for immediate notifications of changes to his credit score as well as monthly credit score updates. His score rose by leaps and bounds within the first three months. He also purchased a few updated credit reports to confirm changes.
I was really surprised to see how quickly this all happened, just by persevering. By about the third month, my score jumped up to the mid-600s, Marion said.
Also Check: How Often Do Companies Report To Credit Bureaus
Request A Goodwill Deletion If You Have Paid The Debt
The first step, if you have paid the collection account, or have been making regular on-time payments, is to mail the collection agency a goodwill letter that explains your situation.
Dont go into too many details, but let the debt collector know if youre trying to buy a house but cant because of the negative information on your credit report.
Then kindly ask the debt collector to remove collections from your credit report out of goodwill.
With some newer scoring models of FICO and VantageScore, they ignore a collection marked as paid, though many lenders still utilize older formulas that will still weigh a paid collection account against you.
If this sounds overwhelming, you might want to reach out to a credit expert.It costs some money but is less expensive than you might thinkconsidering you are getting your own lawyer to fight on your behalf.