If you've missed a few payments on your mortgage, personal loan or credit card, and the account is seriously past due, the lender may turn the debt over to a collection team or agency. Your debt now gets reported as a "collection" on your credit report. Collection accounts have a significant negative effect on your credit score, although the impact lessens over time.
How Credit Reports Work
To understand how collections get reported, you first need to understand how credit reports work. Three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – collect and maintain your credit report, a detailed history of how you have borrowed money and paid bills. Lenders report your credit status to these bureaus approximately every month, that is, whether your account is in good standing, delinquent or in collections. Each credit bureau then applies a scoring algorithm which throws out a number, typically between 300 and 850, that represents the information on your report. This number is your credit score. Lenders use it to assess your creditworthiness.
How Often Does Your Credit Score Go Up?
Because lenders report your credit status every month, your credit score can go up or down each month, depending on what's been reported. In terms of collections, most lenders will send a delinquent payment to a collection agency when the payment becomes 30 days overdue. At this point, a "collection" gets reported and your credit score may take a big hit. Depending on how efficient a lender is with its reporting, the collection will appear on your report roughly 30 to 60 days after the original delinquency date. It pays to get back in good standing as quickly as you can. You can sometimes avoid the credit knock if you pay off the debt before the collection gets reported.
How Long Does it Take for a Collection to be Removed From Your Credit Report?
Most negative information, including collection accounts, stays on your credit reports for seven years. The clock starts ticking from the date of the first missed payment. Until the collection cycles off your report, anyone who requests your report can see the collection account, including how old it is and the amount of the collection. The good news is, the older the debt, the less harm it does to your credit score. For example, a new debt can knock 50 points off your credit score – the amount is different for everyone depending on their credit history – but the impact will be negligible by the time your debt is five or six years old.
Read More: How Long Do Collections Stay on a Credit Report?
Can You Remove a Closed Account From Your Credit Report?
If you pay the debt, the collection agency will report your account as "paid." The entry doesn't drop off your credit report, however, until the seven-year limitation period is up. So, potential lenders can still see it for a full seven years. That doesn't mean there's no benefit in paying off the debt. Some scoring models don't include paid accounts when calculating your credit score, so paying off the collection could benefit your credit score – and improve your eligibility for certain loans – right away. Plus, paying off a collection shows that you have made good on your debts. When considering whether you give you credit with favorable interest rates, lenders will always view paid-in-full collection accounts more favorably than collections that you have left unpaid.
Lenders typically send an account to collections once a skipped payment is 30 days past due. The collection will appear on your credit report roughly 30 to 60 days after the original delinquency date.
Jayne Thompson earned an LL.B. in Law and Business Administration from the University of Birmingham and an LL.M. in International Law from the University of East London. She practiced in various “Big Law” firms before launching a career as a commercial writer. Her work has appeared on numerous legal blogs including Quittance, Upcounsel and Medical Negligence Experts.