A collection account can stay up to 7 years for the last date of activity on your credit reports. The last date of activity is usually the date of the missed payment that sent the account into collections. The date of last activity will update if any mutual activity occurs on the account such as a partial payment etc.
The best method for removing a collection from your life for good would be to negotiate with the collection agency or the original credit if at all possible. They have the ability to close the account for good and remove it from your credit report thus increasing your credit scores. You should try to negotiate a payment based off of the age of the account. For example if the account is a 3 year old cell phone account for $ 500 you might want to try to negotiate a payment of $ 250. Always start lower than you think they might accept knowing that you can work your way up if at all possible. Now if the account is only 1 month old then you might not be able to negotiate at all and only a payment in full would work in this case more than likely. The most important thing you can do in the negotiation process is to ensure that no matter how little you pay, the account is update to show as paid in full and closed. Even better, you should try to get the account removed from your credit reports all together. Make sure to get everything in writing before you send any payment!
If the collection is already paid but still reporting on your credit report then your next step would be to dispute the collection at the credit bureaus. It is important to remember that even though you paid the collection off, it is still legally acceptable to be reported to your credit bureaus as long as the account is 100% accurate. You should dispute something about the account as inaccurate such as the balance or the date of first reporting. Since the account is closed out at the collection agency more than likely they will not respond to a request from the credit bureaus and the account will be removed.
Hopefully, by following these simple steps you can help yourself to delete a collection account from your credit reports and improve your credit scores.