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Your credit report includes specific information regarding your credit usage and helps lenders determine your creditworthiness. It shows potential creditors both the good and bad financial data pertaining to you, including any accounts that have been sent to collections. However, information in your credit report only stays for so long. So how long does a collection stay on your credit report and is it why you had an account in collections disappear?

Why Did An Account In Collections Disappear From Your Credit Report?

When you look at that credit report, there are a few reasons why you might see an account in collections disappear from it, including:

A Mistake

On occasion, the credit bureau or lender could have accidentally removed your account from collections. This is rare but happens from time to time. 

In some cases, lenders will report their client information incorrectly to Equifax or TransUnion. When that happens you can file a dispute to have the error corrected. This can result in the disappearance of your account in collections. Similarly, if there’s an error, the lender may contact the credit bureau to inform them of the error and have the account removed. 

The Lender’s Name Changed

If your lender changes their business name, you may no longer see an account on your credit report because the credit bureau has removed it and replaced it with an updated version. Typically, you can spot this “error” when a new account appears on your report with the same open date, balance and other details as the account that was removed.

Technology Error

Credit bureaus and financial institutions use computer systems which are susceptible to errors and glitches. Information is usually backed up and restored, it is probable that the debt will reappear.

It Naturally Disappeared 

If six years have passed since the item showed on your credit report, the account may have been automatically removed. The majority of items remain on your credit report for 6 years. After this time has elapsed, the items are removed from your credit report

Collection Agency Bought The Debt

It is possible that your report has been pulled in the transitionary period between the debt being listed with the original creditor and the collection agency.

How Long Does A Collection Stay On Your Credit Report?

Any accounts sent to collections will show on your credit report, regardless if the amount was paid. Collection items stay on your report for 6 years from the last payment date. If there are no payments, the collections item will stay on your report for 5 years from the assignment date.

Why Aren’t All My Accounts Listed On My Credit Report?

There are also reasons why an account won’t show up on your credit report, such as: 

  • Not All Lenders Report To Both Credit Bureaus – In Canada, some lenders don’t report to one or both credit bureaus:Equifax or TransUnion. So, if you wish to build or improve credit using your accounts, ask your lender about this before you borrow credit. 
  • Account Might Be Closed – If a certain amount of time passes without issue, a credit bureau may close your account. Closed accounts (paid as agreed) can remain listed on your credit report for up to 10 years, depending on the bureau.  

How To Remove Collections From Your Credit Report?

If you find that you have an account in collections, start by determining its legitimacy. It’s possible that your lender just made an error or hasn’t reported your final payment yet. Otherwise, there are a few ways to remove a collections account from your credit report:

  • Dispute Inaccurate Or Incomplete Collections Accounts – If you think your collections account is a mistake made by a credit bureau, try filing a dispute with them. They’ll then have 30 days to investigate your claim. If the dispute is valid, the account will be removed and if not, it will stay on your report for 6 years.     
  • Wait Until It Falls Off – In the end, not all debt collectors are open to negotiation and, if your collections account is legitimate, your last option might be to pay it off and wait for it to disappear by itself. Once the account is paid, it can take around 6 years to fall off your report completely (again, this depends on the bureau).    

Will Paying My Collections Drop It From My Credit Report?

While paying off a collections account (completely or partially) can save you from any extra interest or penalties imposed by your lender, it generally doesn’t affect the time it remains on your credit report. That said, making a partial payment can, in some cases, restart the term for how long any relevant negative information will stay listed there.

The same can occur during the period of legal liability (a.k.a statute of limitations) associated with the account. If your debt still falls within that period, a debt collector can sue you over it. However, if you pay the account off during that time, they might just inform the credit bureaus, who could remove the account from your report a bit earlier than usual. 

It depends on how the creditor operates and the time it takes to pay your debt. Once it’s paid, the credit bureau will close the account but keep it on report for about 6 years. Plus, the statute of limitations is different in every province and territory. Before you pay an account in collections, contact the agency to confirm how they update their reports.  

How Long Does Information Stay On Your Credit Report?

In general, information remains on your credit report for 6-7 years. However, each item has its own set timeline, based on a variety of circumstances, that are put in place by the credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.

Inquiries

Hard credit inquiries are the number of times your credit report has been pulled by a lender, or authorized individuals. Hard credit inquiries can remain on your credit report for 3 to 6 years.

Trade Items

These are your credit accounts, such as personal loans and credit cards. They are classified as installment, revolving, open, or mortgage. These items remain on your credit report for 6 years from the last date of activity. If the account has had no activity, the item will remain on your report for 6 years from the account opening date.

Judgments

Any formal court decision resulting from lawsuits is a judgment. Judgments will remain on your credit report for 6 years starting from the filing date. An exception exists in Prince Edward Island. If the judgment is satisfied, it remains on your report for 7 years. If the judgment is unsatisfied, it remains on your report for 10 years.

What is a collection agency allowed to do to you? Find out here

Bankruptcies

Bankruptcies classified as assigned, discharged, bankruptcy receiving order, voluntary, and involuntary will remain on your credit report for 6 years from the discharge date. If you were not discharged, bankruptcies stay on your report for 7 years from the filed date.

If an individual has two bankruptcies, it is called a double bankruptcy. The oldest bankruptcy will remain on your report for 14 years from the settlement date. If no settlement date exists, both bankruptcies remain on your report for 14 years from the filed date. The recent bankruptcy will be taken off your report 14 years from the date it’s settled. If unsettled, it will come off your report 14 years from the filed date.

Consumer Debt Counseling

Debt counselling is a service used to provide support if you are struggling financially and aims to avoid bankruptcy. Debt counselling will remain on your report for 3 years from the date your debt was satisfied. If the debt is unsatisfied, it will remain on your report for 6 years from the date filed.

Consumer Proposals

A consumer proposal is a legally binding procedure enforced by a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). The LIT works with you to create a proposal of the percentage of debt you’re able to pay. If satisfied, consumer proposals stay on your report for 3 years. If unsatisfied, it stays on your credit report for 6 years from the filing date.

Garnishment

Garnishment is the legal process that has an outside party or company remove payments directly from your bank account or wages (click here for more information). This type of item will remain on your credit report for 6 years from the filing date. There is an exception in PEI, it will remain on your report for 7 years from the date it was satisfied or, if unsatisfied, 10 years from the filing date.

Foreclosure

If you haven’t been making mortgage payments, the bank will take possession of the mortgaged asset which is known as a foreclosure. A foreclosure will remain on your report for 6 years from the filing date.

What Is A Debt Collector?

Debt collectors are companies or agencies in the business of recovering owed money. If your debt is sent to a collection agency, you should receive a written notice before being contacted by the collector. The notice should include the debt collector’s name, the name of the person or business you owe money to, and the amount owed. At this point, you have an opportunity to verify the information.

You have the following rights if your debt is sent to collections:

  • The debt collector can contact your friends, employer, relatives, or neighbours to attain your phone number and address unless the person is also a guarantor, co-signer, and is your employer and contacted to verify employment.
  • Debt collectors can contact you between 7 am and 9 pm Monday through Saturday and 1 pm to 5 pm on Sundays, excluding holidays.

Your Credit, Your Responsibility

If an account in collections has disappeared from your credit report for a legitimate reason, that’s fantastic because you can start to rebuild your credit health and move forward from your financial setback. Keep in mind that the item may reappear on your report if it disappeared due to an error, so it’s important to keep reviewing your credit report!

Collection Account FAQs

How do collections reports impact your credit score?

After a credit account is sent to collections, a collections entry will appear on your credit report and may decrease your credit score. The overall impact depends on the credit bureau, but will probably be more apparent if you had good credit before the entry. Luckily, that effect should gradually reverse itself over time, as long as you pay your debt as agreed.  

Can you remove a collections entry from your credit report?

If the collections entry is valid, you may be able to get it removed from your report by:
  • Negotiating with the debt collector or offering them a debt settlement
  • Having your debt validated under your province or territory’s statute of limitations
  • Agreeing to pay the account off, then asking the debt collector to remove it.
Keep in mind that if you haven’t fully paid a valid collections account, the debt collector isn’t legally obligated to contact the credit bureau to remove the negative information.  

Do collections entries get removed once they’re paid?

Unfortunately, paying your collections account won’t automatically remove it from your credit report or fix your credit score. It will appear as “paid”, rather than “unpaid”, which can slowly increase your general creditworthiness. It may take a lot of work to raise your credit score and about 6 or 7 years for the account to disappear from your credit report.   

Why does debt go into collections?

Sometimes individuals don’t pay their debts on time, or at all. The company that is seeking payment will try to collect the debt by sending notices or calling. After a certain period of time, the creditor seeking payment gives up. Creditors might sell the debt to a collections agency to recover their money.  

Bryan Daly avatar on Loans Canada
Bryan Daly

Bryan is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University. He has been writing for Loans Canada for five years, covering all things related to personal finance, and aims to pursue the craft of professional writing for many years to come. In his spare time, he maintains a passion for editing, writing screenplays, staying fit, and travelling the world in search of the coolest sights our planet has to offer.

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