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Why Won’t the Debt Collector Agree to Remove the Debt From My Credit Report if I Pay?

Written by Michael Bovee

Question:

Dear Michael,

I have a collections account with AFNI on my credit report. It is a valid debt that I owe the company they are collecting for. I keep trying to ask them if they would be willing to remove the collection off my credit report after I pay in full. The answer I get (sounds scripted) is that they will report to the credit bureaus that it is paid in full. I asked if they could remove it so that it won’t be on there at all for the entire 7 years. The answer I’ve gotten is that they aren’t credit experts and the best they can say is that they will report that it’s paid in full.

I have several questions: How do I try to negotiate with them that if I pay they will remove it from my credit report? How much does an unpaid collection item affect my credit? How much does an item that was in collections but now says paid in full help/hinder my credit score? Which is the better option…pay the debt and just have it say paid in full on my credit report? Or if it’s not going to be removed anyway (for 7 years) and can still affect my score even though I’ve paid it, should I bother paying it in the first place?

Sheena

Answer:

Dear Sheena,

Debt collectors are generally not going to be able to promise you an outcome on your credit reports as a result of your paying them. Many collectors are not in any position to comment on what will happen to your credit reports because:

1. Your average debt collector did not set, and cannot influence, their company policy for credit reporting.

2. Many collection agencies are simply contingency collectors who do not report, and they cannot influence how the original creditor will appear.

3. Number 2 applies to attorney debt collection firms.

READ  Paying Companies To Delete Negative Credit Report Information

Negotiating a pay for delete with a debt collector is not common. It is not clear from what you shared if AFNI is reporting, or if the original creditor is all that is showing negative on your credit. Let me know in the comments below.

How much unpaid collections can hurt you will vary from one persons situation to the next. If you have only one unpaid collection on your credit report, and 10 current positive items, the damage is likely not so bad. If you have 3 positives and this one negative you can often see a greater impact.

How a paid collection on your credit will help or hinder you is going to vary as well. Sometimes a paid collection can bring an immediate credit score improvement. But I have also seen situations where paying off a collection account appears to drop a credit score temporarily.

Whether or not to pay a collections account, if the only consideration is credit score related, can change from one set of goals to the next. My turn for some questions.

How long ago did you stop paying on the original account AFNI has?

Do you plan buying a home, or refinancing an existing home loan, before the collection ages off your credit?

Do you have other financing goals in this same time frame?

Post your answers to those questions in the comments below. I can offer more detailed feedback when I know the answers.

Michael




About the author

Michael Bovee

Michael is an experienced debt expert and can be found online at Consumer Recovery Network.

10 Comments

  • Thank you Chris. Does anyone know why my credit score goes down after paying off the debt with AFNI?

  • Thank you Michael for answering my questions. AFNI is the debt collector showing up on my credit report (not the original debtor, Directv) . I stopped paying the original debt April 2015 and I stopped paying to AFNI this month. I am trying to raise my credit score to get a Home Equity Loan. I own my house debt free, I paid for it with cash, and both my cars are paid off. My credit is raising steadily even with this collection showing as derogatory on my credit report. Please let me know if I can provide more information. Thanks again.

    Sheena

  • No I don’t understand. That’s why I asked the question Dorothy. Yes, I do expect them to negotiate because they want their money. If I agree to pay and they remove, they have their money and I’ve paid the debt. So it is not FAR FETCHED to ask for this! All I can do is ask which is why I posted the question. I have heard of people who have negotiated (very close friends), which is why I came up with the question anyway since AFNI was acting like it’s a possibility. I’m covering all my bases and wanted to make sure I had a correct answer. If you’re going to comment about people asking for help, maybe you shouldn’t be so negative and condescending.

    • Agree on the tone of the response. IT NEVER HURTS TO ASK. They can’t do anything worse to you or your credit. And there are many examples of people successfully negotiating a “pay for delete”. But Dorothy is right – they aren’t really permitted to do it. However they can simply not respond in the required time to a challenge of the debt. Or they could confirm it was an “error”. I haven’t had luck (and my debt isn’t actually mine but they have ignored my documentation) but the agency is a top end legitimate agency. The less reputable ones are more apt to do it. Any way to get their money.

  • Hi Michael, I have a slightly different situation. I’ve had a collector chasing me for at least 3 years on a debt I say isn’t mine. I contacted the original creditor (PayPal, administered by GE Capital who sold the business to Symphony) and was told since its with a collector they purged the files and can’t access them. I provided them with my actual account info showing that they actually owed me about $2.00 (I’m sure they could find something on the other account but my guess is it would take too much time). I contacted the collection company, provided them with my actually account info, requested any possible documentation and asked to have it removed from my credit. I even offered – based on some other advice I’d seen – to pay a fraction of the amount as a “ransom” payment to release my credit from being held hostage. I basically offered an amount I thought was about what it would cost me to fight it further just to make it go away. I gave them 30 days to respond. After about 25 days I received another letter that was the same as others – seeking payment with an offer of a payoff amount. No recognition of my letter. After about 40 days they finally replied saying I owed it, provided NO documentation, did not acknowledge the evidence I provided. They also stated that, while they have the right to sue for the debt, they will not do so. Since then they have sent at least 3 letters to my parents house. A place I have not legally resided in since 1989. I believe the law lets collectors contact a 3rd party only (1) provided they disclose nothing about the debt – the letters obviously do, (2) only once – they did at least 3 times, and (3) to try and locate the person they are trying to collect from – since we had been communicating this obviously wasn’t valid.

    What are my option? We need to refinance our mortgage soon and this is a drag. I’ve read that paying a settlement and having that displayed on your credit can be worse. And I’d rather not pay $1,200 I don’t owe (the full amount they claim with interest and fees). And hiring an attorney is cost prohibitive based on the amount. I originally challenged this through the credit bureaus but they all came back and said it was verified (again, what evidence provided. I do have an account that is in good standing which. oddly, does not show up on my credit reports at all).

  • Hi Michael,
    I have the same exact situation happening right now as Sheena. And I mean exactly. AFNI has recently corroded my credit report with a debt that I (DO) owe to Direct TV from July of 2015 – I was never notified by Direct TV of them closing my account nor was I contacted by AFNI during this time. In January of 2016 evidently, they placed a collection on all three bureaus. I only found out about it through my Credit Karma account when I logged in last night, that this has been posted. So my questions are the same, I worry if I pay it my score will go down as I have read that on other blogs and also, if I pay it I won’t have any further leverage to get it removed. Which begs this question. I have also read that if I pay this in full through Direct TV, and they retract the debt from AFNI, then when I go to dispute the AFNI tradeline…that they have no recourse since the debt is not owned by them. Can this successfully be done? What are my chances of having professional companies get this done for me? Thanks bunches for your time.
    Laura

    • I do know people who have successfully paid the original creditor (when they have not sold the debt off), that have had success getting the additional collection agency removed afterward.

      If that does not work, I am a fan of negotiating lower lump sum settlements with the debt collectors whenever possible. Paid collections are better than unpaid ones. Focusing on a temporary credit score dip (a few months), if that were to even occur, is often silly when held next to the fact that the unresolved debt will prevent you from accomplishing many financing goals.

      I am not a huge fan of credit repair companies. I have a DIY credit repair guide coming out in a few weeks, and there are others out there too. Here is a good one: https://getoutofdebt.org/32410/how-to-easily-rebuild-your-credit-and-have-good-credit-again

  • The person asking this question does not understand that an important asset to any debt collector is their ability to post information about payments to encourage people to pay on time. The Credit Bureaus all have a clause in their contract with the debt collectors saying that if someone deliberately posts false information or deletes accurate information, the collector can have their right to post anything with the Credit Bureaus CANCELLED. So does anyone honesty expect a debt collector to “bet the farm” to settle a modest debt that they are legally entitled to collect on anyway?

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