How Do I Get a Debt Collection Notation Off of My Credit Report?
Since a debt collection notation on your credit report will significantly destroy your credit rating, you should try to get it removed if you possibly can. How? Well, if the notation is about a legitimate and recent debt that you owe, it is unlikely you can have it removed. However, if there is anything that is inaccurate about the notation on your credit report -- as in the amount owed is stated incorrectly or the debt is older than seven years, you have a shot at having the notation removed because it is in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Here is what you do if you want to attempt to get a negative debt collection notation removed from your credit report.
Step 1. Get a free copy of your credit reports (all three of them) through annualcreditreport.com. Federal law requires Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to give you a free copy every year with no strings attached. If for some reason, you don't qualify for a free credit report because you've already received one free copy this year, there are other reasons how you can qualify to receive a free credit report.
Step 2. When you receive your credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, look at the debt collection notation carefully. If the debt collection notation amount is incorrectly stated on your credit report (and it probably is because the debt collection agency added bogus fees to the amount you originally owed), you can dispute it online at the credit bureaus' websites or by mail if you prefer on the basis that "the amount of the debt is incorrect". If the debt collection agency doesn't respond to the investigation, the credit bureau must remove the notation. Many debt collection agencies won't respond at all, or, if they do, they will claim every single dispute sent to them is correct. In otherwords, the debt collection agency will verify the debt amount is correct without checking its accuracy. Not checking to verify the accuracy is a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Unfortunately, the major credit reporting agencies are not complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act a lot of the time, and they will likely report whatever is given to them by the debt collection agency unless you make a fuss. Making a fuss requires that you start sending Equifax, Experian and TransUnion certified letters sent return receipt requested demanding they remove or correct the inaccurate notation. You could include copies of your statements that prove that the original amount of the debt was much lower than the amount the debt collection agency is trying to collect.
The debt collection agency might be trying to collect a debt that is really old which it purchased for pennies on the dollar from the creditor or another debt collection agency. (See Scavenger Debt Collectors). The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that any information older than seven years (except bankruptcy) must be removed from your credit report. If the debt collection agency puts a notation on your credit report about a debt older than seven years, you should contact the credit reporting agency that is listing the debt and demand that it be removed because it violates the FCRA's rule that debts older than seven years cannot be listed on a credit report. As proof of the debt's age, you should send any documentation proving when the original creditor wrote off the debt or first sold it to a debt collection agency. You must contact each of the three credit reporting agencies (credit bureaus) -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion -- separately, as they do not share information with each other. Visit the credit section of this website for information about improving your credit rating.