Credit Infocenter

Will Paying Off a Collection Remove it From My Credit Report?

By: Staff

Last Updated: April 4, 2017

If you have a collection on your credit report, it is likely severely affecting your credit score. Even though debt collections will affect your credit less as they get older, the entries will remain on your credit report for seven years for future lenders to see. You can improve your credit score by getting these collection accounts deleted from your credit report or have them be reported "Paid" or "Current". But before you pay off those debts, we have some tips for you so you and your credit report come up on top.

What is a Collection?

A collection is a severely past due account that has been turned over to a collection agency to pursue payment. These debts are assigned or sold to collectors and collection accounts often change hands every six months or so. After the original creditor moves your overdue account to a collection agency, this account will now be noted as a a charged-off. So now, your credit report has a double whammy on it, a charge-off and a collection.

Ways to Remove the Debt From Your Credit Report

First of all, if the debt is not yours, you are not required to pay it and collectors are not allowed to list it on your credit report. To dispute a debt that is not yours, use our credit report dispute letter and request the credit bureaus remove the debt from your credit report.

If the debt is yours, that does not mean the collector is legally able to collect it from you. Using our debt validation techniques, you are requesting the collector to prove you owe the debt. If they don't respond or can not prove you owe the debt, it must be removed from your credit report.

Lastly, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), past due accounts can only remain on your credit report for seven years from the first date of delinquency. If the seven year period is up, dispute the debt with the credit bureaus.

Paying Off the Debt

If you can not remove the debt by disputing it, you can negotiate with the collector to have the account removed in exchange for payment. Here are some possible payment scenarios. We have listed them from best to the least ideal ways to deal with these debt collectors:

  1. Negotiate with the debt collector to have debt removed.  Send a written request to the collection agency offering a settlement payment if they agree to delete the account from your credit report. Wait for a written response back from the collector BEFORE making any payments. Here is more info on pay for delete techniques.
  2. Pay debt in full and have it removed.  Most collectors want payment in full and will not delete the account from your credit report for a settlement payment. If this is the case, offer to pay the account in full in exchange for the collector deleting the account from your credit report. Again, be sure to have all of this in writing BEFORE making a payment.
  3. Have account updated with "Paid in Full" if they won't remove the debt.  Ideally, you want the entry completely removed from your credit report, but not all collectors are willing to do this even if they receive a full payment. If you can not get them to completely remove the account, offer them a settlement LESS THAN the full amount and get the creditor to update the account as "Paid in Full." Make sure to have this agreement in writing.
  4. Settle account as "Paid. Settled" if they won't remove the debt.  If you are able to settle the debt for a lesser amount, but you can't get the creditor to update it to paid in full, this is the listing you will see for this debt. Keep in mind this will NOT boost your credit score as much as if you had the account status changed to "Paid in Full."

So, the bottom line is paying off a debt with a collection agency may or may not get it completely removed from your credit report. It depends on how willing the collection agency is to work with you and if they will agree to taking a payment in exchange for deleting the account from your report. Some agencies are better to deal with than others. If you are not in a hurry to get the account deleted, play the waiting game with them. The longer you make them wait, the better your chances are of settling this account with a favorable status on your report.