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Collection That Is 2 Years Old - Need To Build Score
I have a collection from a cosmetology school that was opened in 2012 but wasn't reported until 2014. If it wasn't reported until 2014 does that mean it is 1 year old or should I go by the "opening date"? The balance is near $3500. I'm reading everyone's questions/comments and I've noticed that a lot of you are saying NOT to pay a collections balance that is over 2 years old because it will negatively hurt my credit. What should I do? Do I leave it alone and never pay it? If I did contact the school and start making payments, what will happen to my score? I'm trying to raise my score of 560 to 750 as quickly as I can (by summer or fall at the latest). 21 years of age. My longest account is my ONLY credit card which is going on 2 years. I need all the help I can get.

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A few options...

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I'm not sure that you'll be able to lift your score to your goal as quickly as you want to, but I'll give you some advice.  Is this your ONLY derogatory mark on your credit report?   You mention that the longest account that you have is a 2 year old credit card, does that mean that you don't have a car payment?

For purposes of my advice, I must assume that yes, this is your only derogatory and that you do NOT have any other accounts to include a car payment.

First and Best Option.   1.  Is the debt absolutely yours?  Have you "disputed" the account.  The collection agencies are responsible for keeping accurate information, and a lot of times they don't keep accurate enough records.  A dispute could result in a deletion of this listing from your account.  Nothing monetary out of pocket other than postage.

Almost as good as #1.  2.   If the collection agency sends you information that satisfies their verification, you will then want to negotiate with the collection agency a "pay in full" that results in a "deletion".  Sometimes this is referred to as a "Pay For Delete".  An account of this age is less likely to be collected on, and the collection agency knows it.  If you are able to pay in full, they likely will be receptive to the Pay for Delete option.   Be careful, and make sure that you don't admit on a phone call that this is your debt.  Get everything in writing that you agree to.  This would have the identical result of #1, only you're paying the balance in full.

3.  Pay in full anyway.  A collection account that is closed with a ZERO balance will be better in the long run than an open collections account with a balance that high.

4.  Do nothing.  You have been given advice about this collection account.  I agree, unless you can PAY IN FULL, you want to stay off of their radar.  Sending a validation letter if you KNOW the debt is yours is only okay if you are ready and able to pay in full.  If you can't, avoid putting your name on their radar, you want to hope to slip through the cracks.  The older this debt gets, the less it effects your score.  This is presumably a student loan debt.  Student loans are not necessarily subject to any statute of limitations.  Some debtors have been able to argue in court (if they ever get sued) that it's been many YEARS, and the amount of time that has passed makes it difficult for you to defend yourself.

5.  Settle for less.  This would have a dramatic negative effect on your credit score in the short term, but would eventually lift your score higher than it could ever get with this listing hanging over you.

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