It can be both frustrating and debilitating to have instances of collections activity lingering on your credit report. This is particularly true when the information was placed there erroneously.
Notations of collections activity can stay on your report for up to seven years, which can make it difficult to get a good interest rate on a loan, it might even cause you to be denied one.
The good news is removing collections activity from your credit report is possible under certain circumstances.
Here’s what you need to know.
If The Debt Isn’t Yours
File a dispute with the credit bureau reporting the error and requesting its removal.
By the way, if it’s wrong on one of them, it might well be wrong on all three, so you should check your other two reports as well.
Each of the bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) has an online dispute center through which you can submit requests for corrections.
You’ll typically be asked to describe the situation, explain why you think the information is erroneous, and provide documentation to support your claim.
Once the dispute is filed, the resolution machinery is activated and you’ll be kept informed regarding its progress.
A confirmation of receipt is issued and you’ll be notified as to the disposition of the dispute within 30 days.
Incorrect information is usually deleted, as is information that cannot be verified. However, the information will remain if it is deemed to be correct.
If The Debt is Old
The Fair Credit Reporting Act limits the appearance of past due accounts on your report to a period of seven years from the date of the first delinquency.
Unscrupulous collectors have been known to try to make debt look younger than it is.
So, it’s on you to keep track of your credit accounts in case you’ll ever need to disprove one of their claims.
If The Finding Goes Against You
In the event the bureau says the information is correct and declines to remove it, still, you have options.
You can avail yourself of the appeals process, the tools for which are also available at the dispute sections of their sites.
If The Collector Makes a Mistake
Let’s say you did owe the debt, used debt relief to reach a settlement agreement, and handled according to the terms you negotiated.
However, a subsequent viewing of your credit report shows the debt as still outstanding.
You’ll need to file a dispute with the debt collector in that instance, rather than the credit bureau reporting the information.
In an instance such as this, it’s a good idea to ask for a goodwill deletion as part of your settlement agreement.
You’ll ask the collector to cut you a break and remove the notation from your report once you’ve taken care of the problem.
Getting one is rare, but it does happen, particularly in instances of unexpected hardship.
Removing collections activity from your credit report is doable — under certain circumstances.
Bear in mind the entire credit reporting industry is predicated upon keeping records as accurate as possible.
Your chances are really good when you encounter an instance in which you can prove they made a mistake,
Conversely, you’ll be at the mercy of the creditor involved if they didn’t screw up.
Sometimes they’ll show leniency, other times they will not.
However, if all else fails, the information will drop off of your credit report seven years from the date of the first late payment.
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