Can I settle with the original creditor?

Once an account is forwarded to a collection agency, the original creditor to whom the debt is owed will usually refrain from discussing the debt with you directly. Because a collection agency receives compensation on collected debts only, they typically have an agreement with the creditor under which the creditor is required to refer the debtor back to the collection agency.

Generally speaking, a collection agency is more inclined to negotiate than is the creditor. If you want to settle, deal with the collection agency.