3 Ways to Get Late Payments Off Your Credit Report

May 10, 2017

If you have late payments that you want to get off your credit report, you may have a sense of powerlessness. After all, you’re one person going up against a giant bank – what chance do you have?

Actually, you have a better chance than you might think. Here are three ways to get late payments off your credit report. One of them is bound to work for you.

1. Dispute the Late Payments

If your credit report contains late payment entries that you believe to be an error you should dispute them. That usually will not be as easy as simply calling the creditor and requesting removal of the erroneous information. You will usually have to submit some type of documentation that will prove your point.

Acceptable documentation can include copies of canceled checks, or bank statements indicating that payment was made in a timely fashion. A strongly worded credit explanation will also be necessary.

Start by contacting the creditor by phone to determine where you need to send information to dispute the error. Send a letter of explanation and supporting documentation, and then call back by phone if you do not hear from the creditor within two weeks.

Even if the late payment is not an error, you still may be able to dispute it. Many creditors don’t keep good records of particular payments or specific situations. In the absence of their own evidence that your payment was in fact late, they may simply waive the late payment.

If they do agree to remove the erroneous information, make sure that you get them to agree to do so in writing. Once again, creditors are not always very good at following up on credit error corrections. It will be on you to make sure that they actually do it.

Also, you should demand that they correct the error with all three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. If they do not correct the information, it can remain on your credit report indefinitely. This is why it is necessary for the creditor to admit to the error in writing. If they do not notify the credit bureaus, you will have to do it yourself. The written letter from the creditor will be all that’s necessary for the bureaus to make the changes.

In case the creditor is not responsive from the outset, you do have a Plan B strategy. You can contact each of the three credit bureaus yourself and dispute the late entry. The credit bureaus must follow up with the creditor, but if the creditor does not respond or provide evidence to the contrary, the credit bureaus will remove the erroneous information.

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2. Negotiate With the Creditor

Let’s say that the late payment information appearing on your credit report is accurate; do you have any options? Yes, actually three:

Request a “goodwill adjustment”. You can call up the creditor and request that they remove the negative credit information as an act of goodwill. This is easier to do if you have an otherwise good credit history with that creditor, or at least have been clean for the past several years. However, if you have a pattern of late payments, it’s probably best to not even go this route.

Offer to pay down the loan balance. This is all about making a concession in order to induce the creditor to remove the negative information. By offering to pay your loan balance down, you are reducing the risk that your loan presents to the creditor. As a result, the creditor may agree to remove the negative credit information if you pay down a certain amount of the loan balance.

Offer to make future payments by automatic draft. This is another type of concession to the creditor. By offering to set up automatic drafts to make your monthly payment, you are essentially removing the possibility of future late payments. Most creditors have automatic draft arrangements and prefer that their customers use them. The reason that they do isn’t just to ensure payment but to make collection less labor-intensive. That saves the creditor money and represents a real advantage for them. Some creditors may remove a late payment or two if you agree to setting up this type of arrangement.

Still another possibility is to contact the creditor and throw yourself on their mercy. Let them know that the late payment entries are hurting your credit, and ask them what they recommend that you do to correct the situation. Not all creditors will cooperate with this request, but failing all else, it’s always worth asking about. The creditor may put forth a solution that you have never thought of in the past.

Just make sure that any agreements that you strike with the creditor will be fully honored going forward. If you fail to comply with the changes, the creditor may reinstitute the original negative credit information.

3. Engage the Services of a Credit Attorney

This step comes under the category of “if all else fails.” That’s because engaging the services of a credit attorney will cost you money. For that reason, you should go this route only if none of your own efforts have worked, and the need to delete the late payment information is truly important.

Apart from the cost, this strategy is fairly uncomplicated. For starters, once you turn the matter over to an attorney, there is little else you need to do (although the attorney may request that you provide some of the documentation described earlier).

But the other factor is the fact that a credit attorney is an attorney. As an attorney, he or she knows the law and can use it to leverage a favorable outcome for you. Also, the receipt of a letter or email from an attorney is often enough to force the creditor into action. Attorneys know how to make that happen.

The entry of an attorney to the situation also opens up the possibility of a bankruptcy filing. That’s the last thing that creditors ever want, particularly credit card companies. Should you file for bankruptcy, they will most likely be forced to write off the entire loan balance. For this reason, many will be more likely to comply with requests from an attorney.

But as I mentioned earlier, hiring a credit attorney will cost you money. You’ll have to weigh out the benefit that you will gain from the improvement of your credit versus the cost of the attorney’s services.

If you have late payments on your credit report and you’d like to get them removed, you’re not powerless. Anyone of these strategies could help you to clean up your credit, at least enough to improve your credit score to enable you to get the loan that you want.

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