Being a debt collector is a really crappy and difficult job. Not only do they they have to deal with cursing debtors, but they have tons of stress put on them by their bosses. They have to collect money in order to keep their jobs. It’s illegal to use deception when collecting on a debt, but many debt collectors look the other way for all but the most severe infractions — especially if those lies get results.
I was out to lunch with a friend who casually brought up a collection situation he’s dealing with. (Since I wrote my book Defeat Debt Collectors, I’ve made something of a name for myself, and people ask me random questions about credit, collections, etc.) Apparently, he heard me tell someone that they could negotiate with a debt collector to get a delinquent account DELETED from their credit report. Apparently, he tried to do this with one of his collection accounts and didn’t get very far.
He described the exchange with the collection agent like this:
FRIEND: Hello. I’d like to negotiate payment of my account.
COLLECTION AGENT: Uh… sure. I can give you a 10% discount if you want.
FRIEND: Sure, that would be great. But what I’m really interested in is the possibility of getting the account deleted from my credit report. Can you do that? If it makes a difference, I can probably pay 100% of the past due balance right now if you’ll delete the account from my credit reports.
COLLECTION AGENT: I’m sorry, sir. I can give you a slight discount on the account balance. But I can’t delete the account from your credit.
FRIND: Umm… why not? If I were calling you with proof of fraud or identity theft you’d REQUIRE the capability, am I right?
COLLECTION AGENT: Well, yes. In the case of fraud it could be deleted. I’d have to have my manager approve it, of course. Assuming everything checked out, we could delete it. But I can’t delete it at your request.
FRIEND: Why not? You clearly have the capability.
COLLECTION AGENT: Well, yes, but I can’t just delete accounts, sir. That’s illegal.
FRIEND: Let me get back to you. Click
After describing the above exchange, he looked at me again and said, “so, really, what did I do wrong?” He went on to explain that he called back several times and spoke to different collection agents and their superiors, only to get the same basic response: “It’s against the law for us to delete your account, except in case of fraud.”
That’s a lie. It’s possible the debt collector knows this. His boss, a debt collector too, surely knows this. You can’t make a collection agency delete an account from your credit report if they don’t want to. The best option is to write letters and try to bypass low-level employees who can’t help you anyway. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, a collection agency won’t delete an entry. Sometimes, even in the case of fraud, you end up having to sue them or the reporting agencies to get things cleared up.