Pay For Delete – Does It Really Work?

When you read the forums on personal finance, debt and credit help, lots of people advise you should demand the collection agency remove your account from your credit report as part of the negotiation. This is called “Digital signature certificate“.

In theory this sounds great. Pay less than what you owe and have all traces of this debt removed from your credit report. There are even dozens of sample letters available Buy digital signature to help you work the magic and make the collections account disappear. But how often does it really occur?

It occurs much less frequently than those forum posters make it sound like! According to Allie Johnson at CreditCards.com, only about 10% of collection agencies will agree to a Pay For Delete. So for every successful story of a Pay For Delete there are nine other stories of rejection.

Why such a small percentage of success? Let’s look at this from the standpoint of the credit bureaus and the collection agencies. The collection agencies are paid members of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). All members of the credit bureaus promise contractually to report accurate credit information. Whether positive or negative data.

If you were a member of a credit bureau and you were considering loaning money to someone, wouldn’t you want to know the whole story about the person wanting to borrow your money?

The credit bureaus expect 100% honest reporting from their members. When a collection agency deletes negative information falsely (technically a Pay For Delete is a lie) it risks its membership being terminated by the credit bureaus. No collection agency wants that to happen.

Then why do some Pay For Deletes occur? The agency needs to collect money to remain in business. They either are splitting whatever they collect with the original creditor (an assigned debt) or they paid money and bought the debt from the original creditor (a purchased debt). In either case money needs to come in to keep the doors open!

So if you have a large debt (say $2000), the agency might risk an angry call from the credit bureaus if you were to pay them $1000. After all, cash talks! But if you have a $100 debt, it is doubtful that any agency would risk its membership if you offer $50 for the Pay For Delete.

Your chance for a successful Pay For Delete can increase if you can prove that you never got the bill. For example if you have a medical bill which was mailed to an old address and you can prove you were at a new address when the bills were sent out, then there is a legitimate reason for the collection agency to delete your account from the credit bureaus once you pay.

Pay For Delete was a popular trade many years ago but is very rarely accepted today. Collection agencies and creditors are required to remove inaccurate data from credit reports. But they are not required to remove accurate, negative data from credit reports.

Climb Your Debt Mountain One Step at a Time

Charlie Linville lives here in Boise. He is a US Marine Corps veteran who lost his right leg in 2012 when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan. He returned home last night after becoming the first combat amputee to climb to the top of Mount Everest.

This was his THIRD attempt to scale the mountain. An avalanche shut down his attempt in 2014. An earthquake shut the mountain down in 2015.

He succeeded this time, but still had to fight the battler against freezing temperatures and 60 mph winds.

Mr. Linville did not just wake up one morning, catch a plane to Nepal, throw a backpack on and start hiking. His successful ascent in 2016 took him away from his family for FOUR MONTHS. So on top of all the training he did here in the USA before leaving, he had to plan, adapt, change plans, etc to complete his dream. It was not a one day shot!

When we look at a mountain of debt in front of us, it can appear to be as tall as Mount Everest. Most people believe they have to climb it in one straight shot. So few start the climb and even fewer make it to the top. The majority quit after a short time.

You have my permission to take your time to climb your debt mountain! Making it to the top is infinitely more important than how you get to the top. We all have different paths to get to the top.

Each of us has unique circumstances to work with. Single or married. Kids or no kids. Where you live and the cost of living. So making a statement like “spend less than you earn” is meaningless without putting it into the context of your life.

I have two “tools” for you to put into your climbing backpack. These are the compass and map for you to use on your ascent. Without these you may fall into a crevasse!

You cannot climb without a map or a guide. Your credit report will show you what debts are delinquent, which are in collections, if you have any judgments against you and if you have any errors reporting which need to be fixed.

Order one free report from Free Annual Credit Report. You get one from each credit bureau free annually so I would save the other two freebies for later in case you need them.

The credit report will also show you your delinquency dates which you will need for your next tool.

If you have some old debts, they might be too old for you to be taken to court for. This is where the statute of limitations comes in. Your debts are always collectible but each state has a law setting the maximum time for which you can be sued over them.

Go to¬†NerdWallet¬†and see what your state’s SOL is.

A compass tells you which direction you are heading. If a debt is too old to go to court, you may direct your attention to pay a newer one first. You have control over your plan!

Once you have these two tools, then you can create your plan and timetable to pay off those debts. You will know how to allocate your income and determine if you can trim any expenses.

Retired Staff Sergeant Linville demonstrated the awesome task of climbing Mount Everest could be accomplished despite numerous setbacks and months away from home. You can successfully conquer your debt mountain if you climb it one planned step at a time.