Contact dentist immediately and see if you can still settle with dentist. If not, see if the collection company will give you a letter removing the late from your credit if you pay now in full. They will show you paid it in full but what you need is a removal letter from your credit if it was reported on your credit. Move quickly for the collection will stay on your credit 7-10 years.
Once a debt has been sold to a collection agency, that agency owns the debt. Now it would be between you and the collection agency to settle the debt; the creditor has washed his hands of the matter. If you think the debt collection agency isn't working within its legal limits and is harrassing you, check out the Fair Debt Collection Act, which outlines was a collection agency can and cannot do.
When a collection agency takes on a bad debt, in many cases they are "puchasing" the debt from the original creditor. When you then pay off the collection agency, your money will stay with that collection agency. This is the most common scenario, but some companies do have their own internal collection agencies (Capital One, for example, has their own collection subsidiary in Idaho - the Westmoreland Agency). Hope this helps!
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