If you have debts that remained unpaid for a long time, chances are the creditor sent your account to a collection agency. The amount of time creditors wait until they send your account to collections may vary. In general, though, you can expect an account to hit collections at around the 90 day past due mark.
Once you have an account in collections, it could get difficult to get any other financing unless you take care of the debt. If it’s a debt that you don’t want to take care of, you may have to use one of the following techniques to get the mark removed from your credit card without paying any money towards it.
Following are some simple tips you can use to get you started.
Ensure Its Validity
Many people tend to panic when they see a letter from a collection agency. They assume they have to pay it and start figuring out what they should do. What if it doesn’t belong to you, though? You are not under any obligation to pay it.
Unless you dispute the collection, though, it’s going to remain on your credit report. You have to go through the official process of disputing the collection. You must write to the credit bureau that is reporting the collection and despite the charge. The more information and documentation you can provide, the better your chances of having the debt eliminated from your credit report become.
Ask for Removal After 7 Years
By law, collections may only remain on your credit report for seven years. After that point, the collection agency and credit bureau should stop reporting the debt. Assuming you don’t have to apply for any new credit while you wait, you can ask for deletion of the collection the moment it becomes seven years old.
Again, the more proof you have to show that the debt is at least seven years old the better your chances of getting it removed become. Collection agencies have ways of making the debt look newer than it is which could cause an issue when you try to get it removed.
Dispute the Debt Even if It’s Real
This is a tricky step, but it’s one that often works. In fact, this is the trick that many credit repair companies use. They go ahead and dispute a collection or debt, even though they know it belongs to you. Once you dispute a debt, the credit bureau has 30 days to ensure its validity. If they can’t verify that the debt is valid within that time, it must fall off your credit report.
While it’s not the most honest way to get rid of collections, it is a good way to get them removed if the collection agency just doesn’t respond. This is a common way to get medical collections removed from your credit report since medical providers are limited in the information that they can provide. Oftentimes, they just let it go, which allows the collection to fall off your credit report.
Dispute the Debt After It’s Sold to Another Collection Agency
If your collections get old enough, chances are that they will get sold to another collection agency. If you happen to dispute the debt with the credit bureaus during that time, the investigation will prove that the original collection company doesn’t have your debt. This will ensure that the debt falls off your credit report since it is no longer accurate.
Of course, once the new collection company reports the debt, you’ll have to go through all of the steps again, but it’s at least a chance to get rid of the collection for the time being, especially if you are trying to apply for new credit.
Ask for Help
Sometimes, even though it may seem rare, collection agencies have a heart. If you fell into difficult financial times and that is what caused the collections, let the agency know that. In fact, it’s best if you do it in writing. Tell the agency everything that happened and ask for a ‘goodwill deletion.’ This is most common after you pay your collection, but some agencies will do it out of the goodness of their heart for extreme cases. Of course, make sure everything you state in your letter is true, but lay it on thick so that the agency will truly give your request for deletion serious thought.
There isn’t a limit to how many times you can dispute an account. If your first attempt at disputing the collection didn’t work, try again in a few months, this time for a different reason. Typically, the older the account becomes, the less the collection agency cares about the debt. Eventually, you will get to the point that the agency won’t validate the debt and the credit bureau will have to drop it off your report.
In the end, you may end up having to pay the collection, especially if you are trying to get a mortgage or any other type of loan. Trying to get the account deleted without paying for it certainly takes effort, but if it works, you are much better off in the end.