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5 Ways to Remove Debt Collection Accounts from Your Credit History

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debt

There are several ways you can remove collection accounts from your credit report. Some removal methods may require negotiating. Others methods may require paying part or even all of the debt you owe. Each method listed below may be right for some situations but not others. Carefully consider the pros and cons of each method before you use it.

Negotiate Settlement with Creditor

It may be possible to negotiate a debt settlement with the creditor that you owe. This often means paying less than the full amount owed. In exchange, your collection account is changed to pay in full.

This method can be very effective when you owe more than $1,000. You will have to do some negotiating to get the best deal possible. The settlement agreement stipulates that the negative listing is removed when you make the agreed payment. You pay a lower amount and improve your credit.

Collection Deletion Payment

If your collection account has a balance of $500 or less than a collection deletion payment may be possible. You may be able to pay in full so that the collection is deleted from your credit reports. This method works well if you owe smaller medical bills, utility bills, or other minor debts.

You offer to pay the debt in full as long as collection account is deleted once payment is received. This will remove the accounts paid from your credit report. Without the account listed your credit score will normally increase.

Dispute with Major Credit Bureaus

Another way to remove a collections account from your credit is to dispute it. You dispute the account with the major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. You must write a letter to each of the credit bureaus showing the disputed debt. In the letter state that you are asking for an investigation into the account. The law requires the credit bureau to investigate the debt.

The credit agency must determine whether the disputed debt is properly documented. This documentation must meet certain credit reporting requirements. Any dispute must be investigated and verified. If this is not done then you can force the credit agency to remove the account from your credit report.

Request Debt Validation

This method is similar to disputing your debt but it is more aggressive. You may need to file a lawsuit if you do not get a response from the credit bureau within the time allowed. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act this is normally 30 days. You must request debt validation in writing, and the letter should be sent by certified mail with return receipt requested.

The response timeline starts as soon as the credit agency receives your debt validation letter. Once the credit bureau receives your validation request they legally must obtain validation of the debt. A copy of the validation must be provided to you. If this is not done then the law demands that the credit agency remove the debt from your credit report.

If the credit bureau is not responsive then you may have to sue to have the debt removed. This can be costly. Documentation is usually difficult or impossible to provide. Many creditors do not have physical proof of the debt owed.

Original Creditor 623 Dispute

If you have tried to dispute a collections account with the credit bureaus without results don’t despair. You can use the original creditor 623 dispute method. You must send a dispute letter to the original creditor who placed the account with the collection agency. This method involves the Fair Credit Reporting Act section 623 (PDF).

Once the original creditor receives the dispute letter they must respond within 30 days. The creditor must verify the debt and prove you owe it. This method is especially effective at removing a collection account from your credit report.

Final Words

As you can see, fixing your credit score requires time and patience. If you want to remove these negative accounts from your credit you need to be persistent! Remember to keep detailed records and mail receipts as proof of your efforts. If you don’t succeed at first keep trying, using a different method if necessary. Eventually, you will be rewarded with a higher credit score.


Ashley’s August 2016 Debt Update

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Hi friends!

I hope everyone is having a relaxing, laid back Labor Day holiday! We’re still in Texas (we drive back to Tucson tomorrow), so I’m just peeking in with a real quick Debt Update from the month of August.

Here it is:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$653716.55%$829August$74218
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20August$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$58500% (through April 2017)$500August$7650
Medical Bills$57360%$25August$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$85,553 (July balance = 86,518)$1374Starting Debt = $145,472

This was a relatively small debt payment (particularly in comparison to last month’s monstrous debt payment), but I’d expected that given that August is a little bit lower-income month for us (I do not get paid from my part-time job at all in August). Even so, we made some good progress over and above minimum debt payment obligations. We just keep chip-chip-chipping away at our debt totals.

As another exciting piece of information – we think we found “the one” (house). We saw it just before leaving town for the Labor Day weekend and called our realtor to put in an offer while we were on the road (we signed via docusign using my phone’s hotspot to get internet on our computer). Fingers crossed!!!

After house stuff is behind us we plan to make some really concrete mini-goals for the student loan debt. I’ve been hesitant to make any mini-goals (aside from our general 2016 goals) because it feels like so much has been up in the air with the house hunt and trying to just stockpile as much cash as possible for a down payment and emergency fund, etc.

I’ll keep everyone updates as house progress continues. : )

Have a great long weekend!


Everyday I’m Hustlin’

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Logged into my email today to see this little guy smiling back at me:

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.32.08 AM

Sure doesn’t get old to see these “loan payoff” emails! I’m now officially down to 7 Navient loans (out of what 12). To be fair, I’d paid off this loan prior to last month’s debt update, but it took until the next billing cycle (now) for them to acknowledge that the loan was, indeed, paid in full.

Anywho…..pretty exciting stuff! Still lots of big loans ahead, but it’s a nice little pat on the back, indeed!

Lots (and lots!) going on in life right now! We’ve been house-hunting twice (no offers yet). We have lots of work/social functions (Last weekend was an “early faculty” happy hour. Tonight is a departmental social function). Next week we’re going back to Texas as a family. Originally hubs was going to go on his own (to spread his grandfather’s ashes with his mom), but it’s Labor Day and the kids have 2 days off of school anyway so we decided to just all go back together. I’m going to be doing various dad-related duties while in town, including:  1. going to social security office with him so I can get official permission to talk to them since they don’t recognize power of attorney, 2. meeting with a financial advisor to better invest my dad’s money, 3. meeting with a realtor to sell the Texas house.

I’m a teeny bit bitter that a chunk of my trip is going to be monopolized with dad-related stuff when I have two siblings who live in the same city that are perfectly capable of doing the things I’ll be doing. But such is life. There are ebbs and flows. Sometimes my sister picks up more of the “dad slack” and sometimes it falls on me. It’s already a huge relief for his Utah property to be sold and, although we’d originally talked about renting the Texas house, no one has stepped up to take control and my #1 stipulation is that I don’t want to deal with it. Since the duties have fallen to me anyway, I’m going to handle it how I want….which is to get rid of the property so I don’t have to deal with it. We have other (more personal) reasons why we want to get rid of the property instead of renting it, too. Mainly that, due to my dad’s disease, he has a tendency to f*ck stuff up and I just have a gut feeling that if we were to try to keep and rent the property, he’d find a way to mess it up. Might just show up at the front door (illegally) and demand something of the tenants. Or might cause an altercation with the property management company. Who knows? To limit liabilities (and make my life easier), the place just has to go.

So that’s what I’ll be doing the Friday before Labor Day (the only business day that I’ll be in town). Hoping I can get that drama out of the way and enjoy the rest of the long weekend doing low-key and cheap or free activities with the family.

Do you usually travel for Labor Day? We typically don’t, but it’s just worked out that way this time. 

What’s the last debt you paid off in full? Every new Navient loan that I pay off feels like a major triumph. Sooooo over that company! I swear! Once our house situation is squared away I plan to refinance my student loans through another company so I can get a reduced interest rate (and just not have to deal with Navient anymore).



Ashley’s July Debt Update + General Life Updates

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It’s that time of month where our checks have all come in, bills have all been paid, and we’re getting to see how much progress we were able to make on debt. And – spoiler alert – it was a good month for debt payments!!!!

First, let’s get right to the debt table…

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$658116.55%$4383July$74218
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20July$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$63500% (through April 2017)$500July$7650
Medical Bills$57610%$25July$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$86,518 (June balance = 91,058)$4928Starting Debt = $145,472

It’s still exciting to see so many empty rows, the debts having been paid off.

And can I get a virtual high-five for entering into a new first digit for debt payments? Just last month we were still in the 90k owed range and here we sit this month in the mid-80s!!! How exciting is that?! Still a heap-load of debt, no doubt, but it feels like it’s really moving at this point!

Also:  you ask for it, you get it! In response to reader comments requesting an updated break-down of my Navient Loans, I’ve made this special new table just for you!

NumberTypeAmount Owed
3/2015
Amount Owed
7/2016
APR
1-01Unsubsidized5612$08.25%
1-02Subsidized8762$86976.55%
1-03Unsubsidized6967$06.55%
1-04Unsubsidized6794$45336.55%
1-05Unsubsidized2215$06.55%
1-06Subsidized860$06.55%
1-07Subsidized7433$73676.55%
1-08Subsidized6572$65226.55%
1-09Subsidized8762$86976.55%
1-10Unsubsidized17557$183086.55%
SUBTOTAL:$71,534$54139
1-01 Federal LoanUnsubsidized08.25%
1-02 Federal LoanUnsubsidized116875.80%
TOTAL:$65,811

FYI, I broke apart my Navient (formerly Sallie Mae) Department of Education loans way back in March 2015. Please note that the original table did not include any Federal student loans, but I’ve gone ahead and included those in the updated Navient table.

Recently I’ve really started making good progress on paying down some of my student loans. They are, by far, the largest combined debt that we owe. But I’m still tackling them individually because I find it gratifying to pay them off loan-by-loan. After we buy a house, I’ve thought about refinancing to get a better interest rate, which would cause them to all be lumped into one new loan. But I’m not going to do anything related to credit until after the house deal goes down, so while the loans are all separate I continue to knock them down one-at-a-time. The next loan in my sights is loan 1-04. I’ve been doing a modified snowball method, paying the smallest loan first but focusing solely on my unsubsidized loans first.

***

I feel very fortunate to be in a position where we are making a nearly $5,000 debt payment within a single month. This will probably be our highest debt payment all year, given the way our salaries work (our highest income months are June and July). Our pay was higher than usual this month, so we had a higher than usual debt payment. We also did some savings for our house down payment and a little bit of spending on back-to-school shopping, conference-travel expenses (the trip isn’t until August, but I pre-paid a hotel, flight, etc.), and a surprise birthday present for hubs (his birthday is in early August).

It’s just crazy to think how big a hole we’re dealing with due (primarily, among other things) to the enormous amount of student loan debt we had. I’m so glad that my degree is finally coming in handy and helping to give us a larger-sized “shovel” (aka: income) to get out of the mess we’re in. (credit: Ramsey for the hole & shovel analogy). I certainly do not take it for granted.

In August I don’t get paid at all from my part-time job, so our income will be a little lower but we still have a buffer since hubs still has his income and I have my full-time job income. I’ve been working hard at balance this year. We’ve spent more money on having occasional date-nights (the goal is to have one per month, though we’ve been averaging closer to every-other-month). I’m also determined to start entertaining more, especially after we are in a new house! And, to give another personal (but related to finances) update, I’ve finally scheduled an appointment for therapy. Remember when I talked about wanting to go to therapy nearly a full year ago? I made it as far as to do some internet research, find someone I liked, and then I called and she wasn’t accepting new clients. That was nearly a year ago and I’ve done nothing about it since then. But even though I feel much better now than I did at that time (things are on the ups – my dad is in an assisted living, we’re selling his Utah house, preschool starts again in 2 weeks, hubs and I have had more date nights and fun stuff  out of the house), I still feel the desire to talk to someone. I’ve experienced a lot of major life changes in the past year between starting back to work full-time, starting the girls in preschool full-time, dealing with my dad’s health crisis, recent deaths in the family, etc. etc. etc. I think it’s good and healthy to take the time (and money, if one’s budget allows. thank you generous university insurance plan!) to have little “check ins” every once in awhile. Plus, we’ve got more major life changes ahead as we begin the process of house-hunting and officially putting down roots here in Arizona (something that’s strangely difficult to come to terms with. We’ve been living here a solid 6 years now, but I always thought we’d move back to Texas to be by family so it’s odd to realize we’ll likely remain in Arizona for some time to come).

Anyway, all of this is just to say that I’m still working to add more balance back into my life. I’m now into my 3rd year of debt payoff. The first solid 2 years I was 100% gung-ho on the debt reduction train. I’m still on the train (as evidenced by this month’s killer debt payment, thankyouverymuch!), but I’m trying to add more room to our budget for normal “life” stuff. Dates, kids’ activities, entertaining friends, going to therapy. I’m even thinking about maybe re-joining a gym once the kids are officially back in preschool (for long-term readers, you may remember I bought a gym membership a couple years ago and cancelled it after only a couple months to try to save every penny and put it all toward debt).

I just want to keep it real with you all as I’m on this journey. We’ve had 2 years of solid, hard, grueling work. We still have a very, very long way to go. But this is a marathon for us, not a sprint. We couldn’t have maintained that pace forever (and it would have been unhealthy and damaging to try). I’m still trying to be reasonable – we’re not going all-out crazy spending money. But I think it’s important to start letting the girls participate in different activities (I’m still limiting to one activity at a time. Right now it’s swim, but we’ve put in a cancellation notice effective at the end of August and plan to start a new activity in the Fall). I think it’s important to put more time and effort (and, yes, money) into strengthening our friendships by having people over and hosting more get-togethers. And just generally doing more paid activities that we’ve been foregoing the past 2 years. All while trying to still make hefty debt payments that we can be proud of.

We’re well on our way to hit that $30,000 debt-reduction goal for 2016. I think our future is bright.

Where are you on your debt reduction mission? Did you go all-out the whole time, or did you add in some “breaks” and periods with more balance? How long did it take you to get out of debt? What was the #1 thing that helped you to stay the course and eventually get out of debt?


Ashley’s June 2016 Debt Update

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I’m really excited about this month’s debt update! I’d originally hoped to put a solid $4,000 toward debt this month and, although we didn’t quite hit that number, we did put a full $3,500 toward debt!

I know I’ve said this before, but moment of silence for that huge, astronomical number!

((((((silence))))))

Thank you! I just like to acknowledge that $3,500 is a ton of money!

If the average American household income is $55,000 (source), then this represents roughly a full month worth of net income for the typical U.S. family. Craziness!

See for yourself…

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$698266.55%$2955June$74218
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20June$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$68500% (through April 2017)$500June$7650
Medical Bills$57860%$25June$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$91058 (May balance = 94,292)$3500Starting Debt = $145,472

Two things excite me about our debt update this month:

  1. We’ve dipped into the $60,000s for my Navient student loans! I know we still owe a ton, but it’s SO exciting to finally hit a new first digit! The entire time I’ve been blogging Navient has been up in the 70,000s range, so this is a huge deal to me! To be fair, it’s only within the current calendar year that I really started tackling the student loan debt-mountain! (note – I was paying toward student loans all along, but not at a very aggressive rate, as I had prioritized other debts first). I can’t wait to continue seeing this number drop!
  2. We’re super close to hitting a new first-digit of our overall debt! At $91,000 currently owed, we should definitely but down into the $80,000s range by next month! EEEK!!! Again (I must emphasize this for newer readers), I know this is still a disgusting amount of debt. But when I started blogging I had nearly $150,000 of total debt, and it feels like just yesterday when we broke the $100,000 barrier, so the last $10,000 has gone in basically the blink of an eye (ahem – it’s actually taken 5 months, but whose counting?)

I’m really feeling the momentum now and it seems like the debt is just melting away! We still have a LONG way to go, but I’m feeling refreshed and rejuvenated! We’ve had great pay in June (budget update coming soon!) and expect to have great pay in July as well. That really helps as we’re working on pounding out a lot of these student loans.

Also, I’ve grouped all my Navient loans together just for ease, but I’m actually paying them one-at-a-time (first I targeted the highest interest loans, and now that all the remaining loans have the same rate I’m targeting them by smallest first – the snowball method). I’ve actually paid a couple in full lately and it feels SO SO good every time I log into Navient and see another loan with zeros all the way across for amount owed and upcoming payments. These are just the kind of emotional “wins” I need to really feel like we’re on the right track. And it feels GREAT!!!

Next steps – build EF and buy a freaking house!!!

 


May 2016 Debt Update

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Late is better than never! Plus, my debt payments are all scheduled for middle-to-end of the month so these are all still true numbers, no additional payments have been made in June yet. Here ya go:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$725356.55%$980May$74218
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20May$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$73500% (through April 2017)$300May$7650
Medical Bills$58110%$25May$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan-2.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$94292 (April balance = 95,250)$1325Starting Debt = $145,472

The past couple months (April & May) had smaller debt payments than what I’d originally planed. One of our 2016 goals is to pay $30,000 toward debt in total. Here’s a table showing planned and actual debt payments:

Month 2015 2016 GOALS 2016
January $1678 Goal: $3500 $4013
February $1822 Goal: $1000 $1261
March $653 Goal:  $1000 $2134
April $1796 Goal:  $2000 $1521
May $1708 Goal: $2000 $1325
June $725 Goal:  $4000  
July $2125 Goal: $4000  
August $2250 Goal: $2500  
September $2575 Goal: $2500  
October $5513 Goal: $2500  
November $2751 Goal: $2500  
December $2522 Goal: $2500  
Total $26118 Goal: $30,000  

At this point (Jan-May), our goal was to have paid $9,500 in debt so far. Our actual payments put us at $10,254. So even though our recent payments have been below our goal, overall we’re still on track to hit our annual goals. Just as a note, the reason why the goal is set so high for June and July is because I get big checks from my part-time job these two months (instead of spreading out the payment across 4 months, which would be normal sized, I don’t get paid in May or August at all, but instead I get double-sized payments in June & July). Right now it feels scary/intimidating/impossible to be making a $4,000 debt payment (though, to be fair, I haven’t been paid yet this month so that’s probably why). I still want to be cautious and re-allocate some funds back to our emergency fund after having to raid it for life’s recent emergencies.  But I still think (fingers crossed) we should manage to make some pretty hefty sized debt payments, too. Time will tell and I’ll keep you updated! : )

Hope you all have a great weekend!