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?
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.
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.
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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.