Cleaning up your credit history can prove challenging if you have collection accounts or charge-offs on your credit file. Creditors and lenders report both items after nonpayment on an account after several months. Paying off these old bills doesn't result in an automatic deletion of the item. If you want to pay off the debt and improve your personal score, write a pay-for-delete letter. This involves a creditor or collection agency agreeing to delete a negative item upon receipt of full payment.

Get the name of the company that owns the debt. Creditors and lenders tend to sell old debts to collection agencies. Contact your creditor or lender first to see if it owns the debt. If not, get the name and address of the collection agency that purchased the account.

Check your finances. You can offer to pay the full balance in return for a deletion, or offer to settle the debt for less than you owe. The more you pay toward the debt, the better the odds of a creditor or collection agency granting your request.

Draft your letter. Start the letter by mentioning your name and account number. Mention your plans to pay or satisfy the unpaid balance, if the company agrees to immediately remove the negative item from all three of your credit reports. State how much you can afford to send the company -- either the full amount or a settlement.

Do not acknowledge owing the debt in your letter. Admitting that you owe a debt can restart the statue of limitations for creditors to collect on a debt. Mention in your letter that you're not acknowledging the validity of a debt. Rather, you're agreeing to pay in order to clean up your credit report.

Ask for confirmation in writing: Conclude your letter by asking the company to agree to your terms and delete the negative item upon receipt of your payment. Ask the company to put the agreement in writing using a company letterhead and send it to you, signed.

Send your letter by certified mail: To ensure that a creditor or collection agency receives your letter, use certified mail. Someone from the company must sign for the letter, and you will then receive a return receipt.


If the company does not agree to your terms, consider paying the debt anyway in order for the company to update a charge-off or collection account to "paid."