What you don’t know about collections can hurt your credit score.
Here are two facts most people don’t know:
1) The balance does not affect your credit score.
Whether you owe $100 or $10,000, it makes no difference in your credit score. A collection is a collection is a collection. Why?
Because a large balance might indicate a person has a high income; whereas, a small balance might indicate a person had a low credit card limit and therefore has a low income. Since it is illegal to consider income for credit scoring, the credit reporting agencies are barred from making a difference in score due to the balance.
This is important to know, because if you’re thinking your score will go up as you pay down the balance, you are in for a disappointment. The only way you will get your score to go up is by the collection aging older and older, until eventually it is off your report. (Unless you get it removed early.)
2) Paying off a collection will lower your credit score.
This is counter-intuitive and unfair. Nevertheless, that is the way the system is set up. As per above, your score cannot go up by lowering your balance on a collection account. On top of that, when you make a payment it updates the “Date of Last Activity” (DLA) to current, and that reduces your score.
A lot of good people try to do the right thing by paying off an old collection account — and then they are penalized for it!
The Best Way to Handle a Collection Account
If your collection account is old, then let it age off.
If your collection account is medical or less than $2,000, then you will not be required to pay it off in order to get approved for a home loan.
If your collection account is large and/or the collector is contacting you for payment, then negotiate a settlement with the stipulation that it will be removed from your credit report when it has been paid in full as agreed.
If you receive notice of legal action, do not ignore it! Work out a settlement, or if necessary, go to the court hearing and explain your situation. If you blow off a court hearing, then you automatically lose by default, so that is the worst thing you could do.
There are reputable, licensed credit repair companies that can help you with negotiations and legal issues. I do not recommend attorneys or lawyers (especially if they advertise all over the Internet–those are usually the worst). I recommend credit repair specialists who have over 10 years’ experience, because, in my opinion, they work faster, better, efficiently, and get better results.
Thank you for reading and passing on this info to others via shares.
Help is coming for people who are drowning in collections and debt. And for people working on fixing their credit.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is going through certain proposals to overhaul the debt collection industry. The idea is to stop abuse and make sure collectors are following proper protocol. But in this overhaul, there is good news for folks who are suffering from charge offs or collections on their credit.
First, the CFPB is going to put a new limit on how often the collector can contact the person owing money. They want to stop the harassment that sometimes happens.
Second, they will be required to disclose more details, which will make it easier for people to dispute inaccuracies.
Third — and this is a big one — collectors will not be able to pursue collecting money during the dispute process without providing sufficient evidence.
Furthermore, these rules also apply if the account is sold or transferred to another collection company.
As I said, this is all being reviewed by the CFPB now. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available by subscribing to this blog (on the right side). And please pass on this information to others who are struggling with debt, imperfect credit, or who are professionals in the mortgage or real estate industry.
Many thanks to photographer Ian Espinosa for the free use of his photo.
The Date of Last Activity (DLA) listed on your credit report is important to understand. This date is updated when one of three things happens on any active account:
- You make a payment,
- You miss a payment, or
- Your balance increases.
The Date of Last Activity used to include the “drop off” date, or the date the item will be removed from the report, but this is no longer the case. The “drop off date” is now a separate item and often not on the report at all.
Who sets the Date of Last Activity?
Creditors and debt collectors are responsible for reporting this information to the bureaus who then update the DLA accordingly.
Is a debt collector messing with your Date of Last Activity?
Some debt collectors sneakily make regular changes to consumers’ accounts, which triggers a balance increase to be sent to the bureaus and changes the DLA. This can hurt your credit score. Some unscrupulous creditors do this to intimidate people in hopes of pressuring them to pay.
What should you do about the Date of Last Activity?
When reviewing your credit report, pay special attention to the Date of Last Activity–especially on delinquent accounts. Make sure that the DLA reflects the actual date that a payment was made, missed, or the balance increased. If it is not, begin the basic dispute process to have the item changed or (better yet) deleted.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FACTA) protects you from having erroneous or false derogatory information be posted on your credit report.
Does the DLA determine when an item will fall off your credit report?
No. The original delinquency date determines when the item will be deleted from your report. However, the DLA does influence your credit score. (This is crucial to know and a whole topic in itself. Don’t shoot down your score by updating an old derogatory DLA!)
Collection accounts are deleted seven years from the original delinquency date of the original account. Collections accounts are always associated with the original account so they must be deleted at the same time.
For more information on how credit scoring works and how to take control of your own credit, see Repair Your Credit Like the Pros here.
Book reader Paige Bellamy wrote: “This is the best credit repair book I have ever read. This book is filled with tons of useful information.”
Ashton Ammons, Senior Credit Consultant wrote: “Carolyn did a fantastic job writing this book, I’ve been in the credit repair industry for many years and through these chapters she’s provided our team with new insight, strategies and ideas to be able to produce even better results for our clients. I like a lot of the lingo and terminology she uses throughout the book. It’s true we use a lot of the same words and jargon around here at the office. She’s explains the content in very understandable step by step manner and I believe she truly wants to help the reader better understand how credit works. This book is one of the best investments I’ve made in a long time.”