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How to Remove Collection Accounts on Your Credit Report

Removing collection accounts is very common. It might seem confusing and time-consuming, but the positive impact of removing an erroneous collection item can improve your credit health.

Did you get a copy of your credit report and find a collection item? Are you questioning the validity of these collection items? If so, you’re not alone. Many people who review their credit reports find inaccurate information. Federal law requires credit bureaus to report only accurate information, but verifying and disputing the information you find is up to you.

A few years ago, I reviewed my credit report and found a collection item reported. I researched further and discovered the item was an error. I filed a dispute and went back and forth until the error was corrected. But it took over three months and with a great deal of frustration.

Today, I am more knowledgeable about the steps you can take to fix inaccurate collection items showing up on your credit report. So, if you discover a collection account on your credit report that you don’t recognize, this is the article for you.

Federal Credit Reporting Act Protections

Removing collection accounts from your credit report is a process that is important to undertake. First, it’s important to understand your consumer rights and legal protections under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The following two provisions pertain to collection accounts:

  • You have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information. If you identify information in your file that is incomplete or inaccurate and report it to the consumer reporting agency, the agency must investigate unless your dispute is frivolous.
  • Consumer reporting agencies must only report accurate information. Inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information must be removed or corrected within 30 days. However, a consumer reporting agency may continue to report information it has deemed accurate. Source: FTC

However, you are responsible for checking the accuracy of your reports and initiating the dispute process to correct them.

Steps to Remove Collection Accounts

Removing collection accounts is very common. It might seem confusing and time-consuming, but the positive impact of removing an erroneous collection item can increase your credit score.

Follow these steps to remove collection accounts that don’t belong to you from your credit report.

Step 1: Pull Your Credit Report Online

Request your credit report on AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the only federal law-mandated website to access free copies of your report from all three credit bureaus. For simplicity, request a report from one credit bureau and follow the steps (then repeat). Print the report.

Step 2: Review the Information

Use a highlighter or pen to mark up collections discovered. Take the time to think about the reported collections. Determine if the collection account was placed in error or if a paid collection is still reporting as an active collection.

The more certain you are that the collection item is not yours, the better this process will be for you. Circle the agency’s name, contact information, and collection amount.

Step 3: Call the Collection Agency

Call the collection agency and request more details. Ask about the original debt owner and other details. The collection agency should have all this information. You do not need to provide any additional information. Your goal in the call is to get information from them, not the other way around. You can also ask for a debt verification letter.

  • If the collection is inaccurate, dispute it directly with the credit bureau. They will be required to research the issue and report their findings to you. If you have any supporting documents to back up your claim, attach them to the dispute. For example, you never lived at the address associated with the debt.
  • If the collection is accurate, then it means you owe the money. You can pay the total collection due or ask for a settlement amount. Choose an amount you can pay off in one payment. You’ll also want to ask the representative for a “pay for delete.” The “pay for delete” is considered a delete clause that, upon payment, deletes the collection record.

Step 4: Get the Agreement in Writing

Ask for a written or emailed agreement. Additionally, make sure you take notes of the person you’ve spoken to, the dates and times, and a brief synopsis of the conversation. This can help you escalate a dispute if needed. Remember, you must comply with the agreement so don’t agree to anything that you cannot do or afford.

Step 5: Review the Same Credit Report

After you’ve met the agreement terms, dispute the reported collection account with the credit bureau. The credit bureau will then request information from the collection agency. Depending on the information obtained from their request, you will see whether the collection account has been updated or deleted. If the credit bureau fails to respond within the 30 days mandated by the FCRA, they are required to remove the unverifiable information.

In the event, the collection account remains but is now reporting a $0 balance, you can dispute the inaccuracy again with the credit bureau. Provide your notes and the “delete clause.” Contact the collection agency and take notes of the agent’s name, the date, time, and details of the conversation again.

How to Escalate a Dispute to Remove Collection Accounts

If you are unsuccessful in removing the collection account, stay focused and continue to dispute with the credit bureaus periodically. Escalate the dispute by sending a certified letter via USPS. Stay calm. Continue the dispute process directly with the credit bureau and provide any updated information.

One thing to keep in mind, credit bureaus are not your enemy. They only report information shared with them. It is up to you to maintain the accuracy of your credit report. Persistence and consistency can lead to a satisfying result.

Reviewing your credit reports annually is necessary and using a free credit monitoring app is quite helpful.

Conclusion

Jason Vitug

Jason Vitug is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and founder of phroogal.com and thesmilelifestyle.com. His purpose to help others live their best lives through experiential and purposeful living. Jason is also a certified yoga teacher and breathwork specialist and has traveled to over 40 countries.

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