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Here is a scenario for the credit score improvement I am interested in. Suppose a person can not pay the credit card debts for over 6 months. This is very bad for his credit score because unpaid cards are left with R9 which suppose to last for 7 years in his credit report. (This is for US/Canada and many other countries.) But all of sudden, the person gets a windfall of money and can pay off all his credit card debts immediately. However, he is told by the creditors that R9 will still be in his credit report for 7 years which means that his credit score will be (severely) affected for 7 years.

The person believes that this is totally unfair to him. Since there are credit recovery programs that can offer a reduction of the total debt while can remove all bad marks (R9) within 3 years, he turns to a credit recovery program and pays only a portion of his total debt, but gets a clean credit report only after three years. He believes that the current credit report system must be flawed.

I think if this is true, then the current credit report system has a big loophole. I think there should be ways to improve the credit score quickly (removing R9 in much less than 7 years) after paying off all the credit debts. I wonder is there a way to remove R9 in less than 7 years and improve the credit score quickly? Is it true that even a windfall and a quick payoff can not change the credit score quickly?

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    There's no 3 year option that I can see: debtcare.ca/what-is-r9-credit-and-how-can-i-get-rid-of-it. In any case, voting to close since there's no real question here, just a rant. Yes, life is unfair.
    – littleadv
    Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 0:18
  • I don't know what you asked, so I don't know how this answers your question. Credit counseling program relies on creditors actually cooperating and debtors paying off their debts. It doesn't mean that the debt is forgiven together with the bad marks, it just means that if you're willing to make an effort, the creditor is willing to punish you less. In your story the debtor doesn't seem to be fitting the pattern. And I can't remove the downvote because it wasn't me who downvoted your question.
    – littleadv
    Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 2:31
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    I understand what the page says. I don't understand what you're asking.
    – littleadv
    Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 5:29
  • Your question isn't bad, but to littleadv's point, you could stand to make your summary a little more specific than "any thought is welcome". Are you asking why the 3 year path exists? Are you asking how/if a windfall is supposed to affect credit?
    – glibdud
    Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 14:02

1 Answer 1

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It may seem like it's unfair that credit counseling (and possibly paying a lesser total amount) has a bigger benefit than simply paying off the entire debt, but there is some logic behind it.

First of all, very few people ever have a sudden windfall as described, making this scenario rare enough that the rules aren't designed around this possibility. Also, a "clean" record after paying off due to a windfall, could lead to the person to take out even larger debts that they once again won't be able to pay off.

Note that many credit score models are intended to represent behavior more so than the ability to pay. For example, some people have enough money to make minimum payments on their debts each month, but don't always do so. Perhaps they forget, or don't care, or just decided that the total debit is so large they'll seemingly never pay it off, so they give up and stop making payments to that debt (student loans in the US are a common example of this). Obviously there are also scenarios where people lose their regular source of income and literally can't make the minimum payments. Unfortunately most models can't distinguish between these situations so they generally get lumped together.

Let's consider 3 hypothetical scenarios where someone has defaulted on $50k of debt. It's important to note that credit counseling programs do not necessarily reduce the total debt owed, but they might.

  1. The person obtains an inheritance of $100k, and pays off the $50k debt immediately.
  2. The person obtains an inheritance of $100k, enters credit counseling, and pays of $50k in debt with 3 years of on-time payments ($1400-ish per month).
  3. The person receives no inheritance, enters credit counseling, and pays of $27k in debt with 3 years of on-time payments ($750 per month), and the rest of the debt is forgiven.

Fast forward 4 years. Who should have the better score? Obviously there is no "correct" answer, but the scoring model might predict that the person in scenario 2 or 3 is more likely to pay off future debts than the person in scenario 1. The credit model is assuming that maybe the person in scenario 1 paid off the debt because it was easy to do it. Those in scenario 2 and 3 had to make an extra effort, and possibly even learned something along the way with the "counseling".

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