Depending on the urgency of your need to settle it, I think the best way to “remove” is to dispute it with whichever credit bureau(s) are reporting it. There’s a good chance that the investigation will return no information and the item will be deleted at no cost to you. There’s also a chance that the creditor has gone out of business, was bought by another company, is in bankruptcy, or the supporting documentation is illegible, lost or unrecoverable. There might even be fraud, as in the case of some mortgage debt or the Wells Fargo accounts, but those seem to be mostly settled now.
Another option it to pay the debtor with the stipulation that it be immediately reported to all the bureaus and that you get a paid-in-full letter from the creditor.
You could also wait out the seven years and ensure that the bureaus delete the record timely. Many do not, and you could have a cause of action thereto.
More complex and costly are your own court actions either in equity or by right as in the case of a fair debt action.
If you want to take a chance and know how to file an equitable claim in your local court, you could sue the creditor and hope that they don’t show up or can’t substantiate the debt. There may be legal remedies as well, including statutory damages. You could hire a lawyer to do the same, but it would be costly ($1500 or more @ $300 an hour) to do so.
The item I’m referring to is legitimate and the creditor is a large company that still exists. It’s also very small so going to court is not an option (it would have to be extremely large for me to think that’s worth it). Pay to remove might make sense if I can be certain I’m not bumping the date of the item by doing so, but I figure that still might be more than paying a professional to remove it. I’ve talked to professionals, who didn’t make sense for me because they essentially had a minimum number of items they’d remove for a flat rate, I got the sense that the age of the item and/or the fact that it’s only on one report were significant for whatever strategy they would use.
Thanks. I might just skip the first step and contact the creditor. I guess they would just provide me with a letter stating it’s been paid in full. As mentioned, I’m concerned my payment could increase the last active date.
Be warned: sometimes activity on a collection account, or other negative, can reset the clock. If it’s close to seven years of age, I’d let it age off naturally. If you dispute it, request to validate the debt, etc. then you may be resetting that seven year clock. Worst case? They validate it, reset the clock, and now you’ve screwed the pooch. Best case? You dispute it, it falls off, no issue. Path of least resistance/risk? Let it age off by itself and don’t touch it.
That’s the best case. Because then you sue them - for both reporting a debt beyond the legally allowed timeframe (the initial date of delinquency is what it is), and for punishing you for exercising your right to dispute a debt.
It’s not illegal if you mess with a debt before the seven year age-off period, and then they reset the clock. If they report it after seven years, then sure. But that’s not what I said nor what I was talking about.
OP said the debt is almost seven years old. That means it’s still fair game.
While what you are saying is accurate, the OP would be foolish to “mess with a debt” at this point. Debt collectors and credit reporting agencies do not have a stellar record for doing things the way they are supposed to be done. Filing suit against the creditor would be time-consuming and expensive. People who say “just sue them” don’t realize what is involved. I’ve been involved in several lawsuits (always the victor) and it was never worth my time. OP’s best strategy is not to dick with it.
You pay a professional for their knowledge as much as their action. If you already know what you are doing there is likely no need to ask on an online forum. That said, there are professionals who really know the tricks on how to raise your credit score. i.e. things like having 3 credit cards to maximize your score or when you have/use a business card and when to have a personal card. Some things that seem like common sense, really don’t follow what the rules allow or reward.
I bought a F150 a while back and used Ford credit to the tune of $45,000 in order to get the factory rebate. I paid it off the next day - mistake - my score went down. Duh, I should have paid all but $36 and then paid $1 a month for 3 years, my score would have gone up at every payment.
Most dings on your credit score can be denied and there is enough effort needed on the part of the business that they never follow up.