Debt collections activity can stay listed on your credit history for seven years.
The simplest way to get such bad marks scrubbed is to wait out the seven years.
However, if there are discrepancies or mistakes in your credit report erased sooner, here is what you can do.
Go over your credit report
It will never be in your best interest to just accept the word of a credit agency. Everyone makes mistakes, even a credit agency.
You can get one or three free copies of your credit history once annually from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
Many credit cards have perks or rewards that will let you check your credit history monthly or at will.
Check your credit report and look for errors. You can ask the credit bureau in writing to clarify any data on the report.
There is no excuse not to get a credit report from each bureau. It will be easier to check for discrepancies that way.
Send a dispute letter
If you find any errors or discrepancies on your credit report, highlight or circle them in pen.
Then, send a letter of dispute to the credit bureau. Here is a dispute letter template created by the FTC.
The credit bureau should investigate your discrepancy or dispute within a month or so and inform you of a decision.
Past the 7-year mark?
A collections report should automatically delete itself from your credit history after seven years.
It is highly unusual for a collections report to stay on your credit history past the seven-year mark.
If you notice a mistake like that, write a letter or call the credit bureau to get the error rectified.
Determine the original age of the debt
The seven-year clock for a collections activity report to appear on your credit history begins with its first appearance.
Your debt could be sold to multiple collection agencies which try to collect on it long after the fact. However, successive collection agencies’ attempts to collect on the original debt cannot extend the seven-year history clock.
Check the original date of the debt on your credit history.
Any collection activity must be scrubbed after seven years relative to its first appearance on your credit history and not extended with any new collections attempts.
A goodwill deletion is a formal letter requesting that the credit bureau deletes a legitimate collections report on your credit history based on your extenuating personal circumstances.
A credit bureau is unlikely to delete collections on your credit history before the seven-year mark just because you politely ask.
For the best results, you should have a history of paying debt on time since the collection activity and an improved credit score to bolster your argument.
Even then, you may need to chronicle a provable life-altering event or financial goal to aid your case.