Hi John, If a collection account has been paid in full for a credit card, can either the credit card or the collection be removed from a credit report? It seems that is a double whammy. If I didn’t pay the issuer and they sent me to collections, my card account record shows a charge-off, but I actually did pay it to a collection agency. To me that sounds unfair because I did repay the debt.
Answer, I don’t disagree that it seems a little unfair for one debt to be showing up twice on the credit report. But, the issuer isn’t breaking any law and neither is the collection agency. As long as the original account shows that you don’t owe them anything it’s being correctly reported. It can even get worse. If the collection agency sues and wins in court your credit file could also show a judgment.
John, I filed bankruptcy 7 years ago. I heard that bankruptcies have to be deleted after 7 years but it’s not. Are the credit bureaus breaking the law?
Answer, No the credit bureaus are not breaking the law. Chapter 7 bankruptcies can remain on your credit files for 10 years from the date filed. Chapter 13 bankruptcies can remain on your credit files for 7 years from the date discharged, but no longer than 10 years. Chapter 13s take a few years to discharge so most of them stay on file for 10 years. Sorry, I know that’s not the answer you wanted.
John, I’ve got really bad credit. Some of it is my fault and some of it is my ex-husband’s fault. A friend of mine said I should pay for a credit repair company to get stuff off my credit files. Is that legal? Do they work?
Answer, If you listened to the credit reporting agencies and the Federal Trade Commission then you’d conclude that credit repair is a scam. In fact, I used share their opinion because I came from the industry and you get a little brainwashed. However, now that I’ve had a chance to see first hand just how poor of a job the credit bureaus do of maintaining fully correct data, my opinion has softened a bit. I still think some of them are dirt bags but to say the entire industry is a scam is an exaggeration.
Credit repair, despite some rumors, is not illegal. There are Federal and state laws that govern how credit repair organizations must operate in order to NOT be acting illegally. CROA (Credit Repair Organizations Act) is the big one. If the company is complying with CROA (you can look it up and review it, it’s not complicated) then that’s the first step to choosing a credit repair company. Also, if they guarantee they can have items removed or try to take money up front for their services, RUN! That’s illegal under CROA.
We know at least one of the credit bureaus sells credit reports to credit repair organizations so they’re being a little hypocritical calling the entire industry a scam. And I know that many of them are successful getting items removed from credit reports. If you believe what you see on the Internet then some of them have gotten millions of items removed over the years. And, even the FTC’s own annual compiling of complaints shows that credit repair generates a very small number as compared to ID theft, debt collectors, and yes, the credit bureaus.
I hope this has helped. As with any service provider, there are good ones and there are bad ones. Do your due diligence before signing up with anyone. Ask for complaints, ask for success metrics, ask for costs, and maybe even ask for references. Don’t worry about BBB ratings. Those have proven to be less about reality and more about coercing payment from companies who want a higher rating.
John, Thanks for your informative website. My question relates to your post about how IRS will remove a tax lien from your credit report if you pay off your debt to them in full. My question: I have a “State Tax Lien” that is filed on my credit report. Does this still fall within the IRS new law. ie. if I pay off my state tax lien will the State of California remove the lien from all 3 credit agencies.
Answer – Unfortunately the IRS’ new tax lien policy applies only to Federal Tax Liens and not to state tax liens. Having said that, if you have paid the CA lien in full it doesn’t cost you a dime to ask them for a withdrawal. If you are successful then you will be able to have the lien removed from your credit reports because the credit reporting agencies don’t maintain withdrawn liens, state or Federal.
Also, I need to point something out from your question. The State of CA didn’t put the lien on your credit reports. The liens are public records and the credit bureaus proactively pull them from courthouse records and then place them on credit files. So, if you are successful getting the state to withdraw the lien they won’t be the one to have them removed from your credit reports. You’ll simply need to file a dispute with all three of the credit bureaus, include a copy of the withdrawal paperwork, and then they’ll remove them.