Late payments can be reported on your credit report for accounts such as Credit Cards, Personal & Auto Loans, Mortgages, and Student Loans. Below, I want to share with you everything I’ve learned over the years regarding disputing and removing late payments from your credit report.
Normally, you find out about late payments because you were turned down on a loan application or you get a nasty letter from a lender or collections agency.
Sometimes, the collections agency will call you over and over again too. Did you know that according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, this is against the law and considered harassment?
Having one, two, or even three late payments in the last 24 months will kill your credit score. So if your expecting to get approved for any type of loan or credit card, you need to be always paying your current credit accounts on time and keeping your credit report free of all errors.
A Quick Note Before We Get Started: It’s never advised to speak with collection agencies or creditors about anything via the phone. Unless you have something in writing, what is said on a phone call means absolutely nothing! Plus, the stress of having the phone call will not help you either. Lots of times, bill collectors will try to get you worked up with worthless threats that you’ll never actually see executed out. If the terms or threats are not documented in a legal document, they do not exist!
In my honest opinion, it’s always best to contact a credit repair professional if you’re really serious about cleaning up your credit. Typically they have a 50% better success rate with removing late payments and other bad marks than a do-it-yourself approach. If you are unsuccessful on your own and then need the help of a credit repair service, it may be too late because you’ve already provided information to the creditors or collection agencies to build up a stronger case against you!
Related article: Build and Improve Your Credit Score Fast
How Long Do Late Payments Stay On Your Credit Report?
Late payments suck because they will stay on your credit report for up to 7 years! You heard that right, 7 years. Over time its weight of negativity will not impact your credit score as much as a more recent late payment from within the last 24 months. The same is true for other bad marks like a bankruptcy or charged off account. If you have a late payment on a charged off account that is almost 4 years old it most likely won’t even matter because the statute of limitations will run out for collecting on it (each state has its own laws and time ranges.)
Available Options For Deleting Late Payments From Your Credit Report
Below are several options for getting credit card, personal loan, auto/car loan, mortgage, and student loan late payments removed.
1) Dispute Errors Found On Your Credit Report
- Get a copy of your credit report (with credit score) from each bureau, you’ll need to carefully review your report for any errors or bad marks. You can get a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com and you can get a free credit score check from CreditKarma.com
- You will also need to look for any financial records you have that can prove the payment reporting late was actually made on time. For example, look for cleared checks and bill payments on your checking account statement. The more proof you have, the better chances at disputing it as an error. If you cannot provide the proof it was paid on time, it’s OK, you still have a good chance at getting the late payment removed with the other steps discussed below.
I’ve personally spoken with many people about there experiences disputing with the credit bureaus and it can be a bit tricky. They’re so busy sorting our real errors from technical ones, that there’s a good chance they’ll just fix your credit report based on lack of evidence from the lender.
If you fail with the first attempt, you can keep disputing the late payments. If the bank does not respond to the bureau within thirty days and you are persistent enough, the late payment will fall off your credit report because the bureaus will conclude that you must be credible, and the lender is not. (This is especially true if you have clear evidence that the payment was made on time and the lender is not working with you to get it corrected!) Credit Repair companies are really good at using this a technique for getting the late payment removed from your credit report.
Related article: How To Check and Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report
2) Write a Good Will Letter Directly to the Lender (or the credit company servicing the account.)
It’s a simple concept that will work providing you don’t have multiple late payments with the same lender. Many times a lender will do a Good Will adjustment on your account if you’ve overall had a positive relationship with them. Especially if this is the first time you’ve had a late payment.
Write a good will letter explaining the situation that led up to the late payment, then ask them to forgive it and remove it from your account.
- Be polite in the tone of your letter and never be negative or rude. You want the reader to be sympathetic with your situation.
- Keep it on point. If you had a financial hardship because of a medical bill or your home flooded than explain what happened. The person reading it does not want to read a novel though.
- Provide all hard copies of the supporting evidence that will help your case. You would have gotten this evidence by disputing it in the previous section.
- Most importantly, you need to make sure the letter is delivered to the right person. Verify your contact name, address, and phone number. Send it with a tracking number or certified mail. Then, follow-up within thirty days with the contact to make sure they have it.
For complete details of how to write a goodwill letter, see the following sample:
How To Create A Goodwill Adjustment Letter [sample letter template]
3) You Can Also Add Automatic Payments To Your Account
By agreeing with the lender to add automatic payments, you’ll have a chance to remove the late payments as well. I’ve spoken with many people and readers via e-mail about this tactic and it worked for them. If you think about it for a minute, the lender should be pretty easy going with this method, there guaranteed to be paid on time going forward.
4) As A Last Resort, A Credit Report Note
The Fair Credit Reporting Act makes it possible for you to explain your personal financial debacle or issues. You can add up to a 100-word note on all of your credit reports. It’s your legal right!
However, you have to contact each of the three credit bureaus separately. Use your judgment to make sure the note does not do more harm than good. The only person who will ever read this would be an underwriter for a loan approval. So if them reading it would help the approval of a loan, it’s worth a try.
5) Contact A Credit Repair Professional
Finding a professional can be quite an effort. Especially when sorting through all the Google Paid ads for Credit Repair Services, etc. When working with a business providing Credit Repair Service, you should never have to pay upfront for any services. After an evaluation has been done and results are delivered to actually clean up your credit, then it’s OK to pay.
So do your due diligence when picking a credit repair company! It’s best to get a referral from someone you personally know that had positive results.
What Matters Most
We all have good intentions and always try to pay our credit accounts on time. But, sometimes life gets in the way and financial issues can creep up causing a payment to a lender/creditor to be late. Or the lender themselves will make an error reporting a payment that is made on time!
Taking a proactive approach and handling the issue as soon as you discover it is the most fiscally responsible thing you can do.