If you’ve ever let a debt go unpaid, your creditor probably sent it to a debt collector. Debt collectors are serious about getting you to pay. That’s why part of their strategy is to list the unpaid account on your credit report. This in turn damages your credit score, and appears on your report for future lenders to see. Your collection will remain on your credit report for up to seven years.
While there is no guaranteed tactic to getting it removed, here are a few things you can try:
Check for accuracy
If you’re reviewing your credit report and don’t recognize the collection account, confirm that it’s actually yours.
A study by the Federal Trade Commission concluded that about 25% of consumers had an error on their report, and 5% were stuck with higher interest rates as a result. Additionally, about 20% of people who disputed those errors received a better credit score.
File a dispute (if the debt isn’t yours)
If you discover a mistake, let the credit-reporting bureaus know as soon as possible. Send a message online or through the mail explaining the error and why it’s wrong, and provide copies of any supporting documentation if possible.
Credit bureaus typically have 30 days to respond. Even if they correct the inaccurate information, however, it might take a few months for your report to update.
Write a “goodwill letter”
What do you do if the collection account is accurate? Try writing a “goodwill letter” to your creditor.
Because if you have great credit history and pay off the collection, they may remove the negative information. Alternatively, if you missed payments because of a financial hardship, you should write a letter explaining that as well (just make sure you’ve since paid off your collection balance).