Once you establish the basics like having some credit history and making your payments on time, the most significant factor that negatively impacts the average credit score is having a collection on your record.

Whether you had a rough patch a few years ago or simply made a silly mistake, the first step in dealing with a collection on your credit report is to stop beating yourself up because it exists in the first place.

Once you have that handled, then we can start the process of cleaning up your credit report.

Are All Collections Reported to Credit Rating Agencies?

One of the most common questions regarding collections is whether they are all reported to the credit rating agencies.

Fortunately for some, there is no requirement that a collection account MUST be reported on your credit. In fact, you will often find that collectors are willing to work with you to avoid having it reported as long as you are willing to make payments according to their schedule.

Is the Damage Already Done, or is There More to Come?

One of the most misunderstood factors with collections is that most of the damage they inflict on your credit score comes from the late payments and delinquent accounts that led to the collection in the first place.

With that in mind, the best way to make sure that your credit stays in tip-top shape is always to make your payments on time. Keeping your accounts current will do more than anything else to get that credit score where you need it to be.

But How Much is it Hurting My Score?

The impact of any red flag, including collections, on your credit score is primarily based on recency. Anything that has happened within the past two years will have a much larger impact than things from your more distant past.

How Long Do Collections Stay on a Credit Report?

Traditionally, a collection will remain on a credit report for seven years from the last date it is active.

However, many rating agencies are moving towards a model that doesn’t penalize your score for collections that are paid off, which could dramatically reduce the impact for many consumers.

What Can I Do to Get Rid of These Collections?

Like anything else in the world, there are ways to get around those collection accounts if you really want to, and the first step is to make sure that any collections on your account are legitimate.

If there are legitimate collections on your account that still carry balances, work with the collection agent on a payment plan. Don’t be shy about asking them to remove the collection from your credit report while you are making payments or once it is paid in full.

Requests like this can also be made in writing for older collections that have been previously settled. The best part about this approach to getting collections removed is that there is absolutely no harm in simply asking.

No matter what happened to cause a collection, there is nothing good about having it on your credit report. However, there is no reason that you can’t be open and honest with the collection agent who is working on getting it paid off and removed as soon as possible. Then you can free up your credit score to chase down your dreams!