A late payment on a credit bill or other debt such as a mortgage can have a significant impact on your credit score. And the higher your credit score is to begin with, the more it can fall after a late payment.
Paying your bills on time is the best way to avoid this. If you don’t make your payments and your account is turned over to a collections agency, you won’t be able to get that account current again. Late payments can stay on a credit report for seven years.
Before it gets to that point, there are four ways to remove late payments from your credit report so that your score isn’t affected:
Ask for a Goodwill Adjustment
Creditors can remove a late payment as a “goodwill adjustment” if you write a forgiveness letter explaining why you were late and asking that they forgive it and adjust your credit report.
You’ll likely be successful if you have a good payment history with the creditor and haven’t asked for an adjustment previously.
Sign Up for Automatic Payments
Signing up for automatic payments with a creditor can be a way of negotiating the removal of a late payment entry. Automatic payments will help you and the creditor because your future payments will be made on time and you won’t have to worry about missing another payment. Just make sure there’s enough money in the account you’re pulling from each month.
If a late payment is inaccurate, then you have the right to dispute it. The entry date or amount could be wrong, or it may not be your debt. Check your credit report regularly for inaccuracies—having proof for your dispute will help your case.
Hire a Pro
If these steps are not effective in your situation, you may want to consider hiring a professional credit repair service. These services can be faster than trying to fix your credit report on your own—though it can be an expensive option. Look at the company’s costs and make sure you’re not being charged a subscription plan for regular credit checks.
Federal law allows consumers to check their credit reports for free every 12 months from each credit reporting agency. Start at AnnualCreditReport.com and immediately correct any inaccuracies you see in your credit reports.