Can Collections Be Removed From a Credit Report After Being Paid?

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    Time on Credit Report

    • Your creditors and the three credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- consider any account you are at least 30 days late in paying to be delinquent. A notation showing your late or unpaid balances will remain on your credit report for seven years from the day you first become delinquent. If you later pay off any delinquent accounts, your originally late or missed payments will still remain on your report for the required seven years.

    Correct Reporting

    • If you do pay off any delinquent accounts, the notation on your credit report should change. If you pay off the balance in full, the outstanding balance should drop to zero, and the notation on the account should read that you have paid the balance in full. Your credit report will continue to reflect the prior delinquencies, however. If a collections account is reported in error on your report, you can file a written claim with each of the three credit agencies to have it corrected. The agencies will conduct an investigation on your behalf and respond within 30 days, removing the information if it is incorrect, even if you have paid off the balance. You can also correct your credit report in this manner if the collection account remains on your report after the required seven years.

    Filing Bankruptcy

    • While bankruptcy may be able to help your dire financial situation in some ways, it cannot help remove items from a credit report. Even after successfully receiving a bankruptcy discharge, your past delinquent history will remain on your credit report. While you will most likely not file bankruptcy if you have paid back all of your creditors, if you can only afford to pay off some or your debts, a bankruptcy discharge will zero out the balances of your remaining debt.

    Minimizing Damage

    • Although a 30-day late payment may follow you on your credit report for seven years, making a payment soon after can help stem the damage. A 30-day delinquency is not as damaging to your credit score as a 120-day late account or a bankruptcy, so if you can make payment before you reach the 60-day late date, you may help your score recover more quickly.

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