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A pay for delete letter is a negotiation tool intended to get a negative item removed from your credit report. It entails asking a creditor to remove the negative information in exchange for paying the balance.
If you have a spotty credit history and you’re working to turn your finances around, you may be wondering how to remove negative items on your credit report. Late payments, charge-offs, credit inquiries and overdue account citations can all count against you.
There are, however, a few ways to potentially have past mistakes removed, one of which is a pay for delete letter.
What is a pay for delete letter?
A pay for delete letter is a negotiation tool intended to get negative information removed from your credit report. It’s most commonly used when a person still owes a balance on a negative account. Essentially, it entails asking a creditor to remove the negative information in exchange for paying the balance.
Even if you’ve gotten yourself out of debt and paid off collection accounts, without a pay for delete letter, negative credit items can remain on your credit bureau file for up to seven to 10 years.
Time heals all wounds—including credit mistakes—but if you can’t simply wait around for your credit to improve, you’ll want to consider taking some actions toward repairing your credit. Read on to learn when you should send a pay for delete letter, view sample templates and discover other credit repair options.
How a pay for delete letter works
An individual with debt writes a pay for delete letter to a collection agency with a request to remove negative information from their credit report in exchange for payment.
First, in order to understand how and why a pay for delete letter works, you’ll need some background on collection agencies.
Collection agencies are in the business of collecting debt. Some collection agencies are contracted to collect for a creditor and receive a percentage of what’s collected. Others buy the debt and seek collection as the “current creditor.”
Usually, a collection agency will only consider offering a pay for delete letter when you’re willing to pay more than it paid for the debt. There’s no magic number, but generally knowing what the other party wants gives you more information about what to include in your pay for delete letter. This increases your chances of succeeding in the negotiation.
Tips for sending a pay for delete letter
A pay for delete letter isn’t a magical fix. Not all creditors will accept pay for delete letters. Typically, many creditors like corporate banks, credit unions and even small-town banks may not be receptive to this strategy.
However, small utility bills, such as phone, cable and power bills, that go to collections are more likely to be accepted by creditors. Before you send a pay for delete letter, here are some tips to help you avoid common mistakes.
- Consider the status of your credit reporting time limit. Is the debt several years old and about to expire? If so, a pay for delete letter isn’t necessary—the debt will no longer impact your credit score after the time limit has expired. If the credit reporting time limit is still far away, you may want to send a pay for delete letter. In addition, if you want to purchase a home or a car, the lender may require that the collection items are paid off, so you may want to send a pay for delete letter.
- Verify your debt. Before making a pay for delete offer, it’s imperative that you’ve sent a debt validation letter within 30 days of initial contact with the debt collector and received verification of debt from them. In some cases, collectors could request payment even if your state’s statute of limitations on overdue accounts has run out.
- Reassess your financial situation. If your pay for delete letter is approved, you often will only have a short window of time to make the payment. Only send one if you’re confident you can pay the agreed-upon amount.
- Save details for your records. Before sending the letter, be sure to keep a copy for your records. Then when the recipient accepts your terms (hopefully), keep a copy for your records and include a copy with your payment. Also, try to utilize a method that you can verify shipping and delivery, such a “return receipt” or Registered Mail. In the event of any complications, you’ll be glad you did these things.
Pay for delete letter template
Your pay for delete letter doesn’t need to be long and complicated—or even full of legal jargon. Be sure to provide all the relevant information like dates, payment amounts and other details specific to your scenario.
The template below can help you write your own pay for delete letter. Simply update the bolded portions with your own information.
<Your City, State, Zip Code>
<Collection Agency’s Name>
<Collection Agency’s Address>
<Collection Agency’s City, State, Zip Code>
Re: Account Number <XXXXXXXXXXX>
Dear <Creditor’s Name>,
I am writing this in response to your recent correspondence related to account number <XXXXXXXXXXX>.
I accept no responsibility for ownership of this debt; however, I’m willing to compromise. I can offer a settlement amount in exchange for your written agreement to the following terms:
- You agree to accept this payment as satisfying the debt in full (once you receive the agreed-upon amount).
- You agree to not list this debt as a “paid collection” or “settled account.”
- You agree to completely remove any and all references to this account from the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) that you have reported to and validated this account.
I am willing to pay the <full balance owed / $XXX as settlement for this debt> in exchange for your agreement to the above terms within fifteen calendar days of receipt of payment. Understand that this is not a promise to pay. This is a restricted settlement offer and you must agree to the terms above in order for payment to be made.
Should you accept, please send a signed agreement with the aforementioned terms from an authorized representative on your company letterhead. Once I receive this, I will pay <$XXX> via <cashier’s check/money order/wire transfer>.
If I do not receive your response to this offer within fifteen calendar days, I will rescind this offer and it will no longer be valid.
I look forward to resolving this matter quickly.
<Your City, State, Zip Code>
Sample letter to remove collection from credit report
Now that you have a template to write your own pay for delete letter, let’s take a look at a sample letter to make sure you’re fully set up for success.
What happens if a pay for delete letter is rejected
You should always be prepared for the event that the collection agency rejects (or ignores) your pay for delete letter. Not all agencies will see the value in agreeing to your terms or the practice of pay for delete letters as a whole.
It’s also worth noting that any acceptance of your offer must be made and returned to you in writing. In the event of a solely verbal agreement, you won’t have the ability to prove that an agreement was reached if the collector doesn’t follow through and remove the information from your credit report.
If your letter was rejected, there are still some other routes you can take to repair your credit.
Other ways to potentially have negative credit report entries removed:
- Send a goodwill letter
- Negotiate a settlement
- Wait out the credit reporting time limit
- Hire a professional
Common questions surrounding pay for delete letters
Pay for delete is a unique credit repair strategy, so it’s understandable if you have some lingering questions about it. Below, we address some of the most common ones.
Does pay for delete increase credit score?
Pay for delete can potentially increase your credit score if your negotiation is successful, but its impact largely depends on your overall credit profile. If you have several accounts in collections, your score is less likely to increase much from a single negative item being removed.
If you have a single account in collections, on the other hand, your chances of improving your score via pay for delete improve.
Which collection agency owns my debt?
If you’re unsure which collection agency is holding your debt, there are a few strategies you can use to try to learn more. Consider the following:
- Check if you have any missed calls or voicemails from collection agencies
- Ask your original creditor for help with tracking it down
- Get your credit report and check the details surrounding your debt
Can I send a pay for delete letter to the original creditor instead of the collection agency?
You should send a pay for delete letter to the original creditor as long as they haven’t sold your debt to a collection agency. If the original creditor has already sold your debt to a collection agency, you can contact them to see if they are willing to reclaim your debt from collections; however, there’s no guarantee that they will agree to this proposal.
Is a pay for delete letter legal?
Sending a pay for delete letter is a legal way to negotiate to have negative items removed from your credit report. However, it’s important to note that creditors aren’t legally required to respond or accept the request.
Oftentimes, creditors have contracts with the credit bureaus that prohibit them from removing accurate information from credit reports. If that’s the case, the creditor may not be able to enter into a pay for delete agreement with you.
Are pay for delete letters still common?
In recent years, pay for delete letters have become less common. This is partially because the latest credit scoring models, FICO® 9 and 10 and VantageScore® 3.0, do not take paid collection accounts into consideration when determining your credit score. There’s a chance these letters, even if approved, won’t impact your score at all.
Credit reporting agencies also discourage pay for delete efforts, strongly recommending that only inaccurate information be removed from reports. For these reasons, pay for delete is becoming a much less common practice.
That being said, if you’re in a more stable financial position now and expect collections activity to harm your credit, a pay for delete letter may be a good option for you to try DIY credit repair.
If you’re still not sure how to proceed or your pay for delete letter was rejected, consider equipping yourself with some personal finance tools and working with a credit consultant for a free credit report consultation.
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