Even the most diligent people occasionally miss a payment obligation. While this can affect your credit score and ability to access credit, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wait seven years for the negative impact to resolve. There are ways to remove the late credit card payments.
Before contacting your lender about removing negative items from your report, you should determine whether or not the mark was listed by mistake or if it was an error on your part. Either way, you’ve got options to get the late payment information removed from your credit report. But how?
Analyze Your Late Payments
First, you have to become aware of what is affecting your credit score. In addition to keeping track of your daily charges and overall balance, you should analyze your credit history at least once a year. Credit reporting agencies such as Equifax®, TransUnion® and Experian® allow one free copy of your credit report copy each year. By spreading your requests between each company throughout the year, you can monitor your credit throughout the entire year without spending a dime.
When analyzing your report, you should look to ensure that any late payment reported is less than seven years old. It’s rare, but sometimes older delinquencies can remain on your report after their expiration period. If you find a negative entry older than seven years, make sure to call and file a claim to get it removed.
Option 1: Dispute Incorrect Claims
If you find a late payment that from within the last seven years, you’ll want to determine whether it was a mistake. Yes, sometimes lenders do make mistakes. If you find a late payment listed that you don’t recognize, there’s a chance your lender made a mistake when reporting it. You can dispute this information directly with the credit bureau. After filing a claim, the company has just 30 days to investigate the facts before sending you a determination. If they can’t validate the information, it will be removed from your report.
If it was genuinely a mistake, it can help your case to provide proof that the payment was made on time. You could send an account statement or payment confirmation email on the correct date that you made the payment to speed the process along.
But even if the late payment was your fault, and you just want to improve your score by removing late payments, there are still a few ways to approach the situation. Many, will simply state that they do not recognize the late payment. The obligation to verify it is on the lender. Truth be told, many won’t. So, just filing the dispute will often remove the negative information from your report, because, sometimes, lenders won’t respond within the 30 day window.
Option 2: Write a Goodwill Letter
If the late payment is valid, you can try writing a goodwill letter. A goodwill letter is a formal explanation of why a late payment was made that you can send to creditors in hopes of getting your report wiped clean. I always recommend trying this approach after the dispute process. Because, if you send such a letter you are providing them with evidence that you agree the reporting of a late payment is valid. But, writing a goodwill letter, sometimes works. It is is often recommended for those who have fallen on economic hardship due to circumstances out of their control. Banks, especially if you have a good relationship with them, can be understanding. Reasons, you might want to include in your letter are health issues, sudden loss of employment, or even natural disasters.
When writing a goodwill letter it’s important to be respectful, honest and sincere. You should discuss your credit history, if in good standing, and the actions you plan to take to ensure a late payment doesn’t happen again. And of course, ask them, politely, to remove the late payment from your credit report. If you don’t hear anything back after several months, consider calling, emailing or sending updates of your current on-time payments to help change their minds.
Option 3: Negotiate With Lenders
Another option that you have for updating your credit report is negotiating with your lender. This works especially well, if the payment obligation is still outstanding. What a lender really wants is to be paid what they are owed. While this approach is not always successful, you can offer to pay your debt upfront in a lump sum or set up automatic payments to prevent this from happening again, on the condition that they remove the negative information from your credit report. They might agree. But, you should always get these agreements in writing. However, sometimes just honoring your obligation might be enough to convince your lender to drop the report. As with the previous method, you’ll have more success with this approach if you have already established a long track record of making on-time payments or had a recent financial setback.
What if nothing works?
Remember, if a credit bureau chooses to keep an item on your report, after you dispute it, it isn’t necessarily final. You might not be able to appeal the decision online, but you can do so in writing. If you aren’t successful, then keep in mind that a lower credit score isn’t permanent. So, you should work to recover your credit overtime, which I’ll discuss in my next articcle.
About The Author
Philip Shockey is a credit repair specialist that helps his clients recover from negative credit scores. Even when his clients are dealing with difficult situations, such as identity theft and fraud, he works with the credit bureaus to remove the negative information. Phillip Shockey also helps his clients build new lines of credit that have a positive impact.