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I received a call from a collections agency a couple of days ago about an unsettled bill of $200.

Turns out that during my grad school days (over 7 years ago), we used a water delivery service and I was the one who set it up. Once I graduated, the other guys in the house I lived in took it over. I knew the guys pretty well and so (very stupidly) didn't even think about closing/transferring the account.

Now all of them left that apartment a year ago and the new tenants did not pay for the service so it ultimately reached a collections agency.

I asked the gentleman who called me if this would come on my credit report and he said it would not if it were to be paid in full, so I gave my credit card number and charged the whole amount to it. He said he would send me the receipt to my new address.

Now my question is, is what he said about reporting to the credit bureaus true? I checked my credit report and there are no mentions of the late payment or collections (yet). I'm very worried! The wife and I are looking at buying a house in the next few months and the last thing we need is a derogatory mark like this!

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Your credit report should be a factual list of your credit records. It would be reasonable for these facts to be recorded:

  • You were delinquent on a bill 7 years ago.
  • It is now paid in full and current.

If any other facts show up (you are still delinquent, the amount is wrong, etc.) you can dispute it with the credit bureaus and get it removed.

I have heard of agreements called "Pay for delete" or "Pay to delete" like this. However, having nothing in writing, just a phone conversation is certainly not a guarantee that it won't go on your credit record. I have no experience with pay to delete letters.

At this point, I think you have to wait and see if it shows up. If it's not on there now, my guess is it will stay off but there is no guarantee.

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Note that you have a legal agreement for it not to show up, but unless you can prove this (i.e. unless you have a recording of the telephone call), you won't be able to do anything if it does show up. –  ChrisInEdmonton Jul 17 at 14:12
    
The account is 7 years old and was still active till a few months ago when my friend who was supposedly in charge of it had a moment of revelation and took off to Australia for a year of self-discovery. It seems the company tried contacting him and his phone was (of course not reachable). After a few months of non-payment, they sent it to collections. –  Craig Jul 18 at 11:22
    
I would likely argues that this really depends on the collection agency and when (and IF) it was reported. If the debt was over 7 years old, it may have fallen off your report already. If it was really active till only a few months ago (and thus just became delinquent), it very much depends on when the account became delinquent, when the debt was sold and to whom, and if anyone (debtor or collection agency) reported it to any one credit agency. Experian, Transunion and Equifax are the largest three credit reporting agencies in the US, but they don't all share the same data. –  Anaksunaman Jul 20 at 12:48
    
Thanks Anaksunaman. The associate I spoke with said that it hadn't been reported to the credit bureaus as yet and as long as the debt was cleared, it wouldn't. I monitored my credit reports and so far there have been no mentions of that debt. Hopefully it stays that way:) –  Craig Aug 4 at 13:15

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