When can I put something on someone’s credit report?

Dear Michelle,

  • When sending collection letters is not enough, can we report each debt to the credit bureau?
  • Do we have to wait 120 days?
  • What can a collector expect once this action is taken?

Thank you, Marilyn

Dear Marilyn,

Yes, you can report debts to the credit bureaus. You have to be a member of a credit bureau or all three.  To join a credit bureau visit their website and request information on becoming a member.  The 3 credit bureaus are:

You can report a debt as soon as it is past due, if you are the creditor.  The best way to use this to your advantage is to send a letter to the debtor telling them that if you don’t receive payment that the debt will be reported to the credit bureau.  Sometimes this will prompt someone to pay.  If they do not pay and you report the debt, send them a letter telling them it has been reported.  Normally you won’t see anything happen until they apply for credit somewhere, and your item is listed on the report, causing them to be denied credit.  When that happens, the debtor or the place they are trying to obtain credit will contact you to pay the bill so they can be approved for credit with that company.

During this recession this isn’t always a tool that will work for you, as you are aware in local communities everywhere the bad times are continuing.  As you drive down Tenney Mountain Highway and the surrounding towns you will see buildings that were once thriving businesses are now empty and all those people are out of work since there are no jobs to be had.  Many of them have run out of unemployment benefits and are trying to sell things they have but there are no buyers.

Your best bet is to try and set up payment plans, and limit your credit risk moving forward.  Collecting the money that is owed to you is hard right now, debtors are buying food or paying utilities if they still have a home to live in before paying off debts.


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10 Responses to When can I put something on someone’s credit report?

  1. Jaushlyn says:

    What options do I have if someone had created a credit card in my name, added them as an extra cardholder, and made charges without my knowledge BUT I don’t want to press charges? They’re a family member and did this while I was away at college and I’d like to see if there’s some way to just have that taken off of my credit history and somehow put onto theirs. Is this a possibility? Any advice you have will greatly be appreciated. Thank you and have a wonderful day.


  2. Richard says:

    What if a company owes me money (I don’t want to say the name but they are a certain satellite TV company) can I place that on their credit report? Will it actually do any good?

    • Michelle Dunn says:

      Richard, if this satellite TV company is a customer of yours and your business has an account with any or all three of the credit bureaus that you use for reporting past due bills or late payments on all of your customers, you can certainly report the debt. When I owned my collection agency, I would always send a letter to the company letting them know I was going to report the debt on a specific date – this way they had the chance to pay it before I reported it. This worked much of the time but not all of the time. Good luck.

  3. Ronnie says:

    What is if I have tenants that where evicted and when they moved out they destroyed my home and stole things from me. They never paid rent.

  4. Satya says:

    I rented from someone and in the lease it states that if my utilities went above a certain amount, I’d pay her. She has been harassing me for months for more money without any proof of my owing her anything (I haven’t received a single proof – just hateful emails and texts). She now insists she is going to report me to the credit bureau. Is this possible? She doesn’t have more than my name on file as I only rented for one month. Thx!

    • Michelle Dunn says:

      If this landlord has an account with the credit bureaus she may report the debt, you should make sure to get your annual free copies of your credit report so you can check this. If she does report this, send the credit bureau a copy of your lease and a letter disputing the amount, you may also want to include the emails and texts she has sent you. Keep a paper trail to protect yourself!

  5. Tom says:

    I am a dentist and reported a bad debt to the credit bureaus and since the debtor has paid their debt and I would like to know what kind of letter I should send to the credit bureaus to delete their trade line completely, can you give me an example?

    • Michelle Dunn says:

      You wouldn’t write a letter or remove their trade line of credit history. You can only report that the debt was paid. Once you report something to the credit bureaus, you can only update the status of that transaction or line item. You cannot delete it unless there is an extreme circumstance and even then it takes quite a bit of correspondence to prove you made a mistake in the credit reporting and you have to explain in great detail why, what happened and even then normally with an extensive and lengthy investigation by the bureau, that does not mean they will remove it. You should also look at the contract you have with the credit bureau, it will have something about this in your paperwork.

  6. pakarina says:

    I work for a clinic and we want to start reporting people past due balance. I want to know if there is a limited amount and how exactly is the process? I was informed I needed a software for that but I also heard that a letter could be sent? What exactly is the process and if im suppose to mail it where should I mail it to?

    • Michelle Dunn says:

      Do you want to start reporting debts to the credit bureaus? You can contact each bureau or look at their websites, there you will find the criteria for becoming a member and if there are any limitations and what the process is. The three bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

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