I have a small hospital bill and it has now gone into collections and a judgment has been issued. How can I get rid of this bill so my credit is not ruined?
Unfortunately, since a judgment has already been issued against you by your local court, there is no effective way to prevent the account from appearing on your credit report. Since judgments are a matter of public record, the credit bureaus will almost certainly know that a judgment has been issued against you and will report the information on your credit reports. The best way to mitigate the damage caused by this judgment would be to pay the debt off as soon as possible. Once the debt has been paid in full or settled, the creditor should file a satisfaction of judgment with the court. Soon thereafter, the credit bureaus should pick up the fact that the judgment has been satisfied; they should update your credit report accordingly and report the debt as having a $0 outstanding balance. To read more about credit reporting, I encourage you to visit the Bills.com Credit Report Resources page.
Although any judgment appearing on your credit report will have a negative impact on your credit rating, a satisfied judgment showing a $0 balance should cause significantly less damage to your credit score than an unpaid judgment. You may not need to pay the entire balance of the debt to resolve this judgment; if you can raise a significant portion of the balance, say 50% or more, the hospital may be willing to settle the debt, allowing you to pay a portion of the balance and forgiving the remaining debt. Even if you cannot raise enough to offer a reasonable settlement, you should contact the creditor to discuss how you can resolve this debt. The hospital may allow you to establish a repayment plan, allowing you to pay an affordable amount each month toward the outstanding balance. Once you the account is paid off, either through a settlement or a payment plan, the creditor should file a satisfaction of judgment with the court, which should appear on your credit report within a few months of the satisfaction being filed with the court. Regardless of how you are able to resolve this debt, you need to make sure that you obtain a written agreement from the creditor before making payment, as you need to have documentation of your agreement in case the creditor attempts to renege or change the terms after payment has already been made.
I encourage you to pay off this account as soon as possible to minimize the damage to your credit profile. In order to expedite the judgment being reported as "satisfied" to the credit bureaus, you can obtain a copy of the satisfaction of judgment from the creditor or the court and send a copy to the credit bureaus along with a letter requesting that the status of the account and judgment be updated on your credit reports. You can contact the three major U.S. credit bureaus--Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion--by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. AnnualCreditReport will also allow you to obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the credit bureaus once every twelve months. I encourage you to regularly review your credit reports to make sure that all information being reported is accurate and up to date.
See the Federal Trade Commission document FTC Facts for Consumers: How to Dispute Credit Report Errors for more information.
To learn more about credit, credit reports, and credit ratings, I encourage you to visit the Bills.com Credit Help page.
I wish you the best of luck in resolving this judgment, and hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.