Nobody’s perfect. In the case of late payments on your credit file, that little imperfection can arise from past mistakes that you legitimately made, or it can manifest as a result of an error on the credit bureau’s part (that’s right – they’re not perfect, either). Neither of these mistakes has to be permanent, though, as you can effectively address late payments on your credit reports in a couple of different ways.
Why and When Are Late Payments Reported?
At least in terms of your credit, you don’t normally have to stress if you’re a couple of days late on a debt payment. According to Experian, it’s common practice for creditors to put a delinquent mark on your credit file when a payment is 30 days past due. Can that delinquency be removed from your credit report? The short answer is “yes,” though some types of late payments have a more straightforward removal process than others.
How Do They Affect Your Credit Score?
Once the late payment delinquency is reported to any one of the three major bureaus — Equifax, Experian or TransUnion — it can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. This will naturally have a negative impact on your credit, as CNBC reminds us that your payment history accounts for about 35% of the total factors influencing your credit score. That’s significantly more than any other factor.
Can Late Payments Be Removed, and Who Removes Them?
Before even asking how to remove late payments from your credit reports, you need to know if you can strike them from the record. You can virtually always remove late payments from your credit report if they have been reported inaccurately. According to Lexington Law, late payments can be reported in a number of inaccurate ways, including:
- Payments reported late that were actually on time.
- Payments reported on the wrong date.
- Misreported debt amounts.
- Late payments to accounts that are not yours.
- Late payments that have been reported more than once.
However, with a little extra outreach, payments that were actually late can potentially be wiped from the record, too, even before that seven-year expiration. In any of these cases, while you do the legwork and the outreach in question, it’s up to the credit bureaus to actually remove the delinquency from your report.
How To Remove Late Payments From Your Credit Reports
Inaccurate Late Payments
When late payments on your credit file are the result of genuine inaccuracies, you are fully entitled to file a dispute with the credit bureau generating the report. This entails calling, writing or contacting the bureau online (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian all offer an online dispute form), detailing exactly what part of your file is inaccurate, and providing hard evidence of its inaccuracy. In this case, that evidence might be a copy of a payment confirmation email or a bank statement showing an on-time payment. You can do the legwork yourself, or enroll in 800Credit® to help streamline the dispute process using our built-in Action Buttons to address mistakes on your report.
The Pay-for-Delete Option
If the debt related to the late payment on your credit file isn’t in great shape (it may be in collections, for instance), you may be able to leverage a strategy known as pay-for-delete. In this situation, you can contact the credit bureau or bureaus reporting the late payment and attempt to negotiate payment on debt in exchange for removal of the delinquent mark. Some common exchanges include full payment of the debt, a significant partial payment of the total amount, or enrollment in an autopay program.
Another Route: The Goodwill Adjustment
In some cases, you can remove a late payment from your credit reports even if that late payment legitimately occurred and really was your fault. If you’ve maintained a good payment history with a lender or creditor and have a healthy relationship with them, you can write that creditor a letter (yes, a letter) or otherwise contact them detailing why you were late on your payment way back when, demonstrating how prompt you’ve been since, and explaining why a late payment won’t happen in the future. The creditor may decide to forgive that late payment; if so, they’ll adjust your credit report so that it appears sans lateness.
How Long Does It Take?
Once the process gets rolling, everything is in the hands of the respective credit bureau. While every individual case varies per situation and bureau, it typically takes about two weeks to 30 days to complete a dispute investigation. So you may have been late on your payments once, but that doesn’t mean you have to be late forever.
Lexington Law – How To Remove Late Payments From Your Credit Report
TransUnion – How To Dispute Your Credit Report