All 5 reports affect your credit. Companies look at the number of negative reports on a persons credit. The number of reports will affect your credit score. Companies do this in order to: a) Get their money b) basically persuade you to pay the balance.
You can get free copies of your credit reports once a year and check them to see what accounts have been placed with collection agencies. You can contact those creditors for the agency information. The debtor need not be concerned about such matters as it is a certainty that the collector/creditor will be in contact with them in one manner or another.
Get a copy of all three credit reports, then dispute them. The credit reporting agencies will contact the creditors to verify. If the collection agencies do not report the items paid, you will need to contact the collection agencies individually, and provide them with proof of payment. Do this by certified mail, with a letter advising them to correct the records within 30 days. If they do not, you may have recourse thru the FTC under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Get a copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus. You can get one free copy from each per year by law. You can obtain this free copy at http://annualcreditreport.com (see link below). These reports should have the contact info of your creditors (and collection agencies) listed. Google / Phone book combination is the best.
Typically, specific accounts will not be reported to the credit agencies after seven years, whether in good or bad standing. However, check your credit reports periodically. Not only is this a good idea to prevent fraudulent activity, but sometimes accounts continue to be reported after the seven year mark.
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