Credit Restoration: Pay for Delete

Pay For Delete: Should You Do It?

Pay For Delete: Should You Do It?

Pay for delete services are something many credit users do not understand. The following is information on what pay for delete is, whether it’s for you (spoiler: it’s probably not), and how you can implement in your own life.

What happens when a collection agency receives my debt?

The collection agency generally passes along this information to the credit bureaus to notify them of the collection. This process will typically add a negative event to your credit report, which can lower your credit score. Your credit score will suffer even more if you don’t pay off the debt.

This information can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, but as time goes on, the negative information factors in less to your credit score.

What is Pay for Delete?

Pay for delete is when you offer to pay owed debt in exchange for the creditor removing the negative account history from your credit report. However, there are risks associated with it, and trying to do so is asking the debt collector to violate their contracts.

How common is pay-for-delete?

Roughly 10% of collection agencies will agree to pay for delete because they want to collect. You’ll probably have better luck with smaller, mom-and-pop collection agencies. Legitimate debt collection agencies will probably not engage in the pay for delete process.

What are the risks of pay for delete?

The risk lies with debt collectors. Therefore, there’s a big chance they will not do the pay for delete. The collectors that remove this information are actually not supposed to, according to their contracts with the three credit bureaus. They are required by law and by contract to send accurate information, so technically, pay for delete is not advisable.

How does pay for delete affect my credit report?

Collection agencies could delete the account associated with the collection. But it can’t delete anything from the creditor originally, including late payment information.

  • Fully paid collection accounts will show as “paid collection”
  • Fully paid collection accounts will no longer show a balance due
  • It will stay on the credit report for seven years from the original delinquency date

Scenarios where you can pay for delete

You never received a notification of debt

If you never received a bill, you have a chance at using pay for delete. For example, if the bill was sent to the wrong address, you have grounds for an argument that the collection shouldn’t be on your credit report. Just make sure you pay off any other debts before doing so.

The collection is from medical debt

The new FICO scoring model called FICO 9 has lower weighting for medical collections. It also doesn’t take into account paid medical collections.

  • By law, medical debt doesn’t factor into your credit score as much as other types of debt. The idea is that medical collections don’t give as much information about a consumer’s credit risk.
  • However, the new credit score models aren’t widely used yet
  • Nonetheless, it’s now more probable that medical debts will be deleted from your credit report after they are paid off. Be sure to ask your debt collector if you’re dealing with medical debt.

You’re not dealing with a large creditor or bank

If the creditor that you originally owe money to is not a large creditor, pay for delete may work with a wide variety of bills (dental, phone, utilities, medical, rent).

  • If there’s a credit card bill you never paid for, there’s a very low chance that you’ll be able to pay for delete for it. It’s near impossible to negotiate that with a very established credit card company.
  • You may have better luck if you are dealing with a smaller creditor, and working with a different type of debt

Practical Pay for Delete Rules of Thumb

Ask the original creditor

  • Communicate with the creditor to ask if your debt has been sent to a collection on contingency. What this means is that an agency is able to get a percentage of funds that it collects, even though the original creditor still technically has the debt.
  • Ask if it’s possible to just pay off the original creditor’s debt directly, without the collection agency
  • The collection will no longer be in your credit report if the debt is no longer in collections

Contact the agency

Communicate with the collection agency:

  • State to the agency that you intend to pay off the debt
  • Afterwards, request to have your credit report cleared by having the collection removed
  • It can help to be polite in your communications and try to work with them as best as possible

Have ample proof

Having ample proof and a good trail of evidence in your communications is particularly important if there’s a special circumstance surrounding your removed collection. Ensure that you can back up your statements to the debt collector with ample proof

Get it in writing

This is related to having ample proof. You’ll have a strong case if communication is in writing via mail as opposed to hearsay memory over the phone.

  • In case the collection agency agrees with you to delete the collection in exchange for a payment on your end, make sure you ask them for a letter that states this agreement before giving them any money. Don’t pay for anything until you both have agreed to the terms, and it’s in writing.
  • In case the debt collector doesn’t want to mail a letter, email generally also works as evidence

Some Final Things to Remember and Know

  • Paid and closed positive accounts will be on your account for 10 years
  • Open accounts that are in good standing will stay on your account indefinitely
  • Collections can legally stay on your credit report for up to seven years from when the account became delinquent
  • Paid collection accounts will not be removed from your credit report
  • If there is a negative account that’s on your credit reports from all three bureaus, removing it from just one bureau may not actually lead to much effect. And it won’t necessarily change the report from the other two, either
  • Because of this, you should verify if the information will get sent to all three bureaus or just a subset

Pay anyway

Even if you’re not able to get an agreement for pay for delete, it’s good to just pay off the debt anyway. It’s going to be better for your credit report and credit score to have the collection as paid as opposed to not. More recent credit score models for the FICO and VantageScore don’t count any types of paid collections. After paying, you should soon see an updated credit report that shows that you’ve paid.

zombie-debt

How To Protect Yourself From Zombie Debt Collectors

How To Protect Yourself From Zombie Debt Collectors

What Are Zombie Debt Collectors?

Because certain debts have a way of rising up from the grave, these debts are known as “zombie debt.” Some of your past debts may have been considered “uncollectable” or dead because a company was unable to get you to pay or reach you.

The bad news is that zombie collectors have bought these old debts and are trying to collect these debts again as their business. What’s even worse is that uncollectable debts are often sold for a small percentage of their original value. So, getting paid on even a fraction of the loans makes for a profitable business.

What Should I Do When Contacted By Zombie Debt Collectors?

Here are some practical steps and some important ideas to remember when you get that dreaded call from these dark creatures.

Be careful of what you say

You should be wary when collectors use a phrase like “just pay something.” Whatever you do, don’t acknowledge the debt and don’t admit it’s yours.

  • Better yet, just don’t communicate with them
  • All communication should be done through mail, so it’s traceable and you have time to think carefully about your reply
  • Never talk to them on the phone. If you accidentally pick up a call from them, immediately hang up the phone
  • You don’t want to accidentally provide the collectors with potentially useful facts against you for the collection
  • Nor do you want to say something that acknowledges that the debt exists

Request debt validation

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) gives you the right to verify debts from debt collectors

  • You legally can ask the collector for debt verification, and they would have to respond
  • This request can be mailed (you should use certified mail). You have 35 days to do this, with the clock ticking after the collector first makes contact with you
  • Your request for validation must be made in writing
  • Sending your request via certified mail with return receipt requested gives you extra proof and a way to track that your letter was received The collector needs to reply with 3 things. First, they must directly state that you are the responsible person for the debt. Second, they must tell you the amount owed. Finally, they have to give you reason for why they’re authorized to collect the debt.

Watch your credit report

Say that you’ve asked for proof that the debt is valid, but and the collector hasn’t responded yet or hasn’t given you enough information to prove that it’s not fake. In this case, your credit report legally cannot have the debt added to it. Ensure that the zombie debt collector hasn’t broken the law and reported this old debt. You can do so by checking your credit reports from the three credit bureaus regularly.

  • If this sounds like your situation, it’s completely possible to remove that debt from your credit report. Simply file a dispute to the credit bureaus to get it removed, or work with a professional credit repair service.
  • When filing a dispute, it’s often useful to give them your communication with the collector
  • Be sure to also include that the collector did not provide adequate or any proof that the debt is legitimate
  • Get a free credit report at annualcreditreport.com

Research the company

It’s completely possible that the collector that is reaching out to you is not the law firm that they claim to be. This is why it’s important to research the company. Perhaps in doing so, you find out that there have been many other consumers that have filed complaints against this company for their predatory and illegal debt collection activity.

If the company calls you, before hanging up, make sure you get the company name and address. Then, be sure to investigate the company online. Search for any warnings or reviews from others that say that the company takes advantage of consumers.

Don’t revive the debt

It’s important to know what a statute of limitations is. It’s the maximum time a debt collector has in order to sue you in order to collect a debt from you. The time varies by state. Be sure to check your statute of limitations so you don’t revive old debt.

  • Don’t admit verbally or in writing that you owe the debt
  • Also, avoid making any payments toward the debt until you figure out it’s actually yours
  • Ensure you don’t make any payments toward the debt until you figure whether the statute of limitations has run out
  • Remember that, if the statute of limitations has passed, it’s impossible for the collector to use the legal system to collect. In this case, there is very little that the collector can do, so make sure you understand this point.

Don’t ignore a lawsuit

Be sure to act quickly because if you’ve been sued for the debt, you have a limited period of time to respond.

  • If you get a lawsuit, make sure to read it and check if a response is necessary. Don’t just ignore it
  • Be sure to obtain the court’s contact information independently, in case that has been fake. Do your due diligence to ensure that the lawsuit is real (the company is real and the court is real)
  • At least at first, don’t trust the information from the lawsuit. In case it’s fake, all of the contact information (addresses, phone numbers, names) will be fake
  • In case it’s a real lawsuit, you must respond. This is because if you don’t, you could lose your change and right to fight it

Tell the collector to stop contacting you

Understand your legal rights. You can tell the collector to stop contacting you. By law (according to the FDCPA), you can send a letter to a debt collector requesting for all communication to end. The collector must follow this request according to the law.

  • They must stop all communication regardless of whether the debt is legitimate or within statute of limitations
  • Use certified mail with receipt requested to ensure that the collector receives the cease and desist letter. This way they can’t deny it later; you have proof.

There are two exceptions, however, that you should be aware of.

  • One of them is that the collector still communicate with you to let you know that it’s stopping its debt collection efforts against you
  • Another exception is when the collector lets you know that it plans to sue you

Ultimately, it’s important to understand that you have a right to ask for a cease and desist from the collector. If the debt collector ignores this, you legally can take action against them.

In case the a debt is valid and you want to pay

If you desire is to pay back your debt, you still want to watch your back. Not doing so may result in being sued or paying more than you bargained for.

  • Negotiate that settlement without admitting the debt is yours
  • Any admission could give creditors the right to sue you
  • Get everything in writing before you pay anything
  • Get a statement of the full offer in writing, including a statement that will settle the account in full
  • Keep your payments records just in case the debt returns
  • Some shady collectors may resell the debt even after its been settled

Conclusion

As you can see, the methods used by zombie debt collectors can be relentless and tricky. Follow the principles above and escape from those harassing phone calls, letters, and even wage garnishment.

erase-debt

How to Get Rid of Credit Card Debt

How to Get Rid of Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is all to common. Most than 45% of Americans carry a balance every month. This is even after knowing that this balance will eventually come back with a vengeance. A cardholder who owes $15,956 (the average debt per household) will need to pay $11,000 in interest if only the minimum due is paid each month. This is why it’s extremely financially savvy to get rid of credit card debt.

Life can throw many unexpected events. Some people get into debt after losing a job or getting very ill. Regardless of the cause, hopefully you are now in a place where you are ready to tackle ridding yourself of this financial burden. This will ultimately save thousands of dollars in interest fees. Here are the 5 steps to create a plan to get rid of credit card debt.

1. Budget your expenses and make sure you live within your means.

This is an obvious one, but it still is amazing the number of people that try to eliminate their credit card debt without having any accounting in place to figure out where their money goes versus how much they bring in.

By ensuring that this step is done, you are confident that you won’t increase your credit card debt month over month. If after this budget exercise, that’s the case, you’ll have to figure out how to decrease your costs. Whether it’s eating out less often or something more drastic like moving into a lower rent location, you will need to make these changes in your life before you can move forward with eliminating your credit card debt.

To learn more about budgeting, check out our guide on How to Budget Your Money.

2. Pay off one card at a time, from highest to lowest interest rate.

If you are having trouble paying off multiple cards, then rather than trying to pay them off evenly, you will pay less in interest if you try to tackle paying off the card with the highest interest rate first. And then move on to the next one from there.

A bonus of doing this approach is that you will feel the momentum at having paid off one card, then the next, and then the next. There will be a satisfaction at having a reduced number of cards carrying a balance month-over-month.

3. Ask if you can get a lower interest rate from your creditors.

It never hurts to ask. One phone call to your credit card issuer often allows you to have a lower interest rate. This typically works better if you have a good credit score already (730 or higher). It’s even better if you are also a long-term customer that typically makes payments on time. Still, it may be worth it to try even if you don’t meet these requirements. Even a decrease or a percentage point or two can add up to hundreds of dollars saved in interest per year.

4. Use a peer-to-peer lender.

Using a peer-to-peer lender means that you’ll borrow money from another service, such as LendingClub.com or Prosper.com. Then, use this borrowed money to pay off your credit cards and get rid of your credit card debt. Then, you’ll just have one loan with an interest rate that is typically around 20% to 30% lower than most credit cards. This can make it easier to track how much you need to pay off per month and also save on interest payments.

5. Make two minimum payments each month.

Maybe it’s easier for you to make the minimum payment on your cards after your paycheck arrives every other week. It’s far better to make two minimum payments each month as opposed to one. For example, if you charged $2,000 on a card with a 17% interest rate and only make the minimum monthly payment, it would take 21 years to pay off the entire balance. But if instead you made an additional minimum payment every month, it would only take 3 years. Every bit counts, even if it doesn’t seem like it. So, consider making payments not just once but twice a month to your credit cards.