Multiple Collection Agencies Same Debt
If your credit report looks as Experian describes, with the old collection accounts accurately reporting as closed, there may not be much you can do besides wait seven years for the collections to fall off your credit report.
However, if the original creditor and/or multiple collection agencies report the same debt as if they are all separate open collection accounts, that may be an error that you need to dispute with the credit bureaus.
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.
How To Remove Paid Collection Accounts From Credit Report: Pay For Delete Collections
Even once you have paid a collection, you may find that it is difficult or impossible to remove it from your credit file. However, if you do want to try to remove zero balance collections from your credit report, one method that consumers use to do this is the pay for delete strategy.
You may be able to negotiate a pay for delete agreement with the debt collector.
With the pay for delete method, you negotiate with the debt collector to have them stop reporting the collection to the credit bureaus in exchange for your payment, whether you negotiate to pay the full amount owed or settle the debt for a lesser amount.
It may not be necessary to hire a pay for delete service since you can look for a sample pay for delete letter online, although a credit repair service might be helpful in this situation as well.
Keep in mind that debt collectors are not obligated to accept the offer outlined in your deletion letter, so this strategy is not a guaranteed success.
If the collection agency does agree to delete the collection once you pay it off, its best to get verification of this agreement in writing before you make any payments.
Does Pay for Delete Increase Credit Score?
Remember that FICO 9, VantageScore 3.0, and VantageScore 4.0 dont penalize paid collections, so it may not be a problem to have a paid collection on your credit report if your lender uses one of these credit scores. In this case, the deleted collection wont increase your credit score.
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Double Jeopardy Credit Report
A double jeopardy credit report is when you have multiple collections for the same account listed on your credit report. This can happen when the debt is being reported by both the original creditor and the collection agency on your credit report or when the debt is sold to another collection agency.
Experian explains why there may legitimately be duplicate accounts on your credit report:
When an account is charged off, or written off as a loss, it remains on your credit report for seven years from the original delinquency date leading up to the charge off.
Often, the original creditor will transfer or sell the account to a collection agency. In that case, the original account will be updated to show transferred/closed, and will no longer show a balance owed because the debt is now owed to the collection agency. However, your report will still show the history of the account, including the amount that was written off.
Since you now owe the collection agency, it will report the current balance owed.
In this case, having multiple accounts for the same collection on your credit report is normal and should not change the impact the collection has on your credit score.
A true case of double jeopardy on your credit report involves duplicate collection accounts on your credit report being reported as open collections, which would be even more of a disaster for your credit than having a single open collection account.
How Long Does A Debt Settlement Stay On Your Credit Report
A debt settlement will remain on your credit report for seven years from the original delinquency debt, or longer if you cannot effectively make timely settlement payments. If you settled your debt five years ago, you would have to wait for the seven years to be completed.
It is crucial to note that the credit report presents a history of managing your credit accounts. When a debt is paid off and an account is closed, the lender updates the report’s new payment status. However, paying off an account and closing it does not change its status on the report immediately.
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What Is A Collection Account
A collection account is a debt account that has been sold by the original creditor to a third-party debt collection agency. This happens when you are delinquent on payments long enough for the lender to charge off the loan, which means they consider the account to be a lossbut that doesnt mean youre off the hook for paying the bill.
Once the account has been charged off, the original creditor closes your account and often transfers or sells it to a debt collection agency or a debt buyer.
Ask The Collection Agency To Validate The Debt
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulates collection agencies and requires them to produce consumer requests to validate the debt be provided within 30 days. Otherwise, they are subjected to substantial fees and fines.
You can find a sample debt validation letter that you can mail to the creditor here.
Make sure you send it certified mail. If they fail to respond within 30 days, you will have documentation to include in your report. You can initiate a complaint here.
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File A Dispute With The Credit Reporting Agency
Initiate a claim directly with the credit bureau by writing a dispute letter. The purpose of this letter is to notify them that you believe certain information in your credit file is inaccurate.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires creditors to report accurate information about every account. This means they have a legal obligation to review, investigate, and respond to your claim. This process is free and can take up to 30 days to complete.
You can begin a dispute with any one of the credit bureaus through their websites or via mail. The leading credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. Its essential to have documentation and to be precise about the information you are challenging.
Each of the three major credit bureaus has an online section dedicated to walking consumers through the process of disputing a claim online. It would be best to dispute the entry with each credit bureau to make sure the removal is complete across the board. After receiving the initial claim, the credit bureau will contact the source of the erroneous information and dispute it on your behalf.
How to file a dispute letter:
Have A Professional Remove Collections From Your Credit Report
If this all seems like too much for you to handle, and you are worried about trying to take on a collection agency on your own, theres an entire industry devoted to credit repair that is ready to help you.
A professional credit repair company like Lexington Law could help restore your credit usually within three or four months.
They wont take any action you couldnt take yourself. Since credit repair is all they do, itll work faster and more efficiently.
You would need to budget some money for the monthly payments, which average about $100 depending on the plan you choose.
Theres also a one-time set-up fee for most .
But if you want to get your personal finances back on track without spending your free time on the phone or writing letters, you should consider this kind of service provider.
Debt collections come in many forms.
Whether its an unpaid medical bill, a cell phone bill, or even an $18 library book you never returned, unpaid debt can lead to negative information on your credit report.
It looks especially bad when the negative item comes from a collection agency.
Collections accounts tell other creditors you let an old debt go three or maybe even six months without paying.
When you apply for new credit, lenders know your old lenders lost money on your accounts.
So a collection account will have a negative impact on your ability to apply for new credit whether its a mortgage, a major credit card, or a personal loan.
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A Call From A Debt Collection Agency Is A Call Nobody Wants To Receive But If You Become Significantly Delinquent On A Debt You May Need To Deal With A Debt Collection Agency In Order To Pay Back The Money You Owe
Before we go any further, lets agree on one thing: Unpaid debts can be stressful and confusing. You may not even be sure how your debt ended up with a debt collection agency in the first place. But its important to look beyond the potentially intimidating letters and phone calls to understand whats really happening and come up with a solution that works for you.
In this article, well go over how to make a payment to a debt collection agency. Heres a basic outline of the steps, in case youd like to jump ahead.
How Long Does A Collection Account Stay On A Credit Report
The Fair Credit Reporting Act lays out that the collection has to stay on your credit report for up to seven years from the date of default on the original account. This is to give lenders a clear picture of your financial behaviour so they know the risks of lending you money.
However, on a credit report, a paid collection can still stay on your credit report for up to seven years, regardless of whether the account has a $0 balance.
After seven years, the paid collection will automatically drop off your credit report.
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Medical Debt Changes In 2017
In September of 2017, the three major credit bureaus announced more changes to the way they report medical debt.
Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion agreed to remove medical collections from credit reports when:
- The medical collections are less than 180 days old. This gives you time to resolve a past due balance before it starts hurting your credit.
- The medical collections are paid by a health insurance company. This is a change in the FICO 9 and VantageScore 3.0 models. Many lenders still use the FICO 8 model which lowers your credit even if the account has been paid off.
If you have a medical collection account that meets one or both of these criteria, the account should have been removed from your credit report already.
If you believe your collection does fit those criteria but its still on your credit report, you should dispute the entry with the credit bureaus and with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
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.
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Propose A Payment Plan With The Debt Collector
Contact the debt collector, say you’re in financial hardship and you want to work out a payment plan. They must consider your request.
They may ask for financial details to show how much you can afford to pay. Only offer an amount you will be able to stick to.
The debt collector may agree to:
- Let you pay back smaller amounts over a longer time.
- Close the debt if you pay part of the debt in a lump sum.
- Waive the debt, if you’re on a low income, have no major assets, and your situation is unlikely to change.
Ask the debt collector to put the agreement in writing.
If they reject your request, put it in writing . If they still won’t agree, you can make a complaint.
How Medical Collections Hurt Your Credit Score
First of all, its important to understand how medical collections affect your .
Before 2014, FICO treated unpaid medical collections the same as any other debt.
Back then, medical debt hurt your credit score just as much as unpaid credit card bills.
Since 2014, FICO has changed its scoring system to lessen the impact of medical debt collections on your credit score. This is good news if youre dealing with unpaid medical debt.
But it works both ways: Removing unpaid medical debt will improve your credit score less than removing other accounts such as credit card debt.
If you have multiple types of debt pulling down your score, Id recommend attacking a different kind of debt first.
Still, getting medical debt off your credit history can help you get better interest rates and increase your borrowing power, especially if youre applying for a mortgage soon.
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What To Know About Debt Sold To Collection Agencies
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Maybe youve recently faced a serious financial hurdle and missed making payments against a credit card balance. Or maybe youre a few months behind on your utility bills. At first, youll find yourself answering phone calls from your creditors trying to get you to pay. Eventually it might take three months or up to six the phone goes quiet, and you think theyve given up.
Unfortunately, its more likely that the debt has been sold to a collection agency, and you can be assured that theyll try their best to collect. The creditor may have given up, but the collection agency wont thats how debt collectors make their money.
In addition to being a tremendous hassle, being pursued by a collection agency will likely have a negative impact on your credit reports. Read on to learn how debts are sold to third parties, what to do when a collection agency is trying to get you to pay and how to resolve the issue.
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.
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How Can I Avoid Getting Debt Sent To Collections In The Future
The best way to avoid having collections drag down your credit FICO score is, of course, to prevent them in the first place. Make every effort to pay your bills on time and avoid missed payments since payment history is the most important factor in credit scoring.
Set up reminders on your calendar or take advantage of auto payments so you dont accidentally miss a due date. This applies to credit card and loan payments as well as utility bills, medical and service providers, and even landlords.
Remember, not only does positive payment history help keep your debt from going to collections, it also counts for 35% of your FICO credit score.
If you are having financial difficulties and cant make your payments on time, communicate with your creditors. Let them know about your situation. Many creditors have programs designed to help borrowers in such circumstances.
Pay Your Bills On Time
This might be the single most important factor to help build up your score, especially if you have a mortgage or car loan youre current on, or a credit card account in good standing. Paying your bills on time applies to all bills, including rent, utilities, even your internet or phone bill. And if youre behind on any bills, get them current as soon as possible.
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