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How to get rid of late payments on credit report

how to get rid of late payments on credit report

You can only get rid of late payments on a credit report if there was a credit reporting error or fraud—which can be done through a dispute with the respective credit bureau. Late payments on your credit report can be a red flag for potential lenders and it can harm your credit score. But is it possible to get rid of late payments on your credit reports, and if so, how can you do that? Continue reading to learn more about getting rid of late payments on a credit report. 

Do Late Payments Drop off a Credit Report on Their Own

If you make a late payment on any of your bills, such as credit cards, loans, and any other financial obligations, those late payments will stay on your credit report for up to seven years. In some cases, those payments can fall off before that seven-year time period. Late payments are fairly common, and in 2023, credit card late payments/delinquencies for all kinds of debt have been on the rise.1

When Is It Possible To Remove Late Payments on Your Credit Report?

There are only a few scenarios in which you will be able to remove late payments from your credit reports if it is a mistake or if it is because of fraud. Any payments you miss on your own/ are accurately reported late payment will remain on your credit reports for up to seven years, and there is nothing you can do to remove them on your own. 

How To Remove Late Payments With All the Credit Bureaus?

In the case that the late payments are mistakes or due to fraud, you should be able to remove them. Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have the right to dispute things that show up on your credit reports. Here is how to go about it, depending on the situation: 

Removing Late Payments Due to Errors and Inconsistencies

Mistakes and inconsistencies on credit reports are fairly common with credit bureaus, and if you see one or more false late payments on your credit, you can go through the process of fixing things: 

Step 1: Write a Dispute Letter and Contact the Original Debtor/Lender

The first step of the process you should take care of is to call the original debtor, such as your credit card issuer or lender, and ask whether the mistake is on their end for the late payment. If so, they may be able to correct the issue with the credit bureaus or provide you with documentation so you can correct it yourself. 

To correct things on your own, you will have to write a dispute letter—a letter that explains the situation and states that you need the error or inconsistency corrected. This dispute letter will need to be addressed to the correct credit bureau, and if it is on all three, you will have to write a letter to each one. You can also do this part online! Your dispute letter should include the following information: 

  • Your contact information, including your name, address, and phone number. 
  • Include specific information on the late payment error, including the issuer.
  • Explain why you are disputing the error. 
  • Include any proof you may have about the error, such as information from the original creditor

If you need some help, there are many templates online that are available for free!

Step 2: Mail Your Letter or File One Online With the Correct Credit Bureau 

Once you have your dispute letter, you will need to mail it to the correct address, depending on the credit bureau(s) you need to correct things with. You can also begin a dispute letter online. Here are the mailing addresses for each major credit bureau and the link to their online dispute page: 

Credit BureauOnline Dispute LinkMailing AddressPhone Number
ExperianExperian Online DisputeP.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013(866)-200-6020
EquifaxEquifax Online DisputePO Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30348(866)-349-5191
TransUnionTransUnion Online DisputePO Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016(800)-916-8800

Step 3: Keep an Eye Out for Updates on the Investigation

Once you file your dispute, your credit bureau will have to investigate and they have up to 45 days to investigate the dispute once they receive it. Once they come to a conclusion, they will let you know within 5 days of their decision. It is extremely important to pay attention to any details about this, as you may need to take additional steps for a resolution. 

In most cases, as long as you have the proof, there shouldn’t be an issue to correct errors or inconsistencies on your credit report due to a reporting error. 

Get Rid of Late Payments Due to Fraud/ Identity Theft

Correcting an error on a credit report due to identity theft can be a little more complicated, but it involves the same communication process from above. Your best bet to prove identity theft is to file a police report. And don’t forget to freeze your credit from all three credit bureaus. 

Don’t Forget To Check Your Credit Reports From All Three Major Consumer Credit Bureaus

Once everything is settled and the errors are taken care of, you should see a change in your credit report and scores within a few days. You will get a corrected credit report from the bureaus once this is done (if the error was their fault), which will not count towards your free annual credit reports. 

Even after everything looks good, it is extremely important to check your credit reports often so you can see any future errors or red flags. 

Will Removing Late Payments Help My Score?

Yes, removing late payments on your credit report will help your credit scores! A single incorrect late payment can bring your credit score down quite a bit, and multiple can mean going from a tier 1 credit score to a tier 5 score. To understand why that happens, it will be helpful to better understand how on-time payments and late payments impact your credit history and credit scores. 

How Payment History Affects Your Credit Scores

Your payment history for all your debt from lenders like credit card companies, mortgage companies, personal loan lenders, lenders for payday loans, lenders for title loans. and other financial institutions will all be a part of your credit reports. And it is actually the largest factor that impacts your credit scores! With a FICO score, it accounts for 35% of your credit score, while with a VantageScore, it makes up 40% of your scores! 

On-time payments will greatly help your scores, while late payments will have a significantly negative impact and will look like red flags to lenders. The good news is that there are things you can do and be aware of to have the best payment history possible; here are some tips:

  • Have the monthly minimum payment for each debt/bill paid automatically. 
  • Set up reminders for yourself each month. 
  • Have your bills paid at the beginning of each month regardless of the due date. 
  • Only borrow from a loan or credit card if you know you can confidently afford the monthly payment.
  • Be aware of grace periods with your debtor
  • Talk to your debtor right away if your financial situation changes. 

Improving Your Credit Scores After Late Payments

If you do have legitimate late payments on your credit score and it has negatively affected your credit, you may be wondering what is next. Improving your credit scores after late payments is definitely possible, and remember that will fall off your credit reports after seven years. Here are some tips to improve your credit in the meantime:

Make Every Effort for On-time Payments

Just because you have had late payments in the past does not mean your future payments have to look like that. One of the best and easiest ways to improve your credit score is to pay your bills on time. Use the tips from above such as setting up automatic payments from your bank account to avoid any missed payments. 

Get Alternative Payments Reported

There are some payments that most people make every month, but they are not reported to the credit bureaus. Things like rent, utilities, your phone bill, etc. Luckily, there are services like Experian Boost that can help get those payments reported, which can help you improve or build your credit. 

Pay Off Your Debt and Increase Your Income

Your credit utilization is a fairly large part of your credit scores. And the factors that make credit utilization are the amount of debt and income you have. Paying off your debt and increasing your income can help bring that ratio down, which will help your scores. 

Diversify Your Credit

Your credit mix is also important to a healthy credit score. And so, take a good look at your credit reports and check out whether you have a good mix of credit accounts. If not, learn to be strategic the next time you borrow money from a credit account. 

Keep Closed Accounts Open

When people pay off their revolving credit accounts, they may close them! However, this can hurt your credit! Instead, keep these accounts open and use them from time to time so they don’t automatically close on their own. 

FAQS

How can I identify incorrect late payments on my credit report?

Review your credit reports from each of the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) carefully. Look for any discrepancies or unfamiliar entries, particularly in the payment history section. If you notice a payment marked as late that you believe was made on time, it could be an incorrect late payment.

What steps should I take if I find an incorrect late payment reported by a credit card issuer?

First, contact the credit card issuer to clarify and rectify the error. If the issuer acknowledges the mistake, request them to update the credit bureaus. Simultaneously, file a dispute with the credit bureaus where the incorrect information appears, providing evidence to support your claim.

How long does it take for a credit bureau to resolve a dispute regarding an incorrect late payment?

Credit bureaus typically have up to 45 days to investigate and resolve a dispute. They must inform you of their decision within 5 days of concluding the investigation.

Can removing incorrect late payments from your credit report improve your credit score?

Yes, removing incorrect late payments from your credit report can improve your credit score. Late payments negatively impact your credit history, so correcting these errors can lead to a positive adjustment in your score.

What is the best way to monitor my credit reports for future inaccuracies?

Regularly check your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus. You’re entitled to one free report from each bureau every year. Staying vigilant and reviewing your credit history frequently can help you spot and address inaccuracies promptly.

How can I prevent late payments from appearing on my credit report?

To prevent late payments, set up automatic payments for your bills or set reminders to pay before the due date. Consistently paying your bills on time is crucial for maintaining a good credit history.

If a late payment is correctly reported, how long will it stay on my credit report?

A late payment that is accurately reported will stay on your credit report for up to seven years. Its impact on your credit score diminishes over time, especially if you maintain a positive payment history going forward.

In Conclusion With CreditNinja

You can only remove a late payment from your credit report if there was an error or due to fraud. If that is the case, you will have to file a dispute with the corresponding credit bureau. The good news is that a dispute is pretty straightforward and can be done completely online. There is a timeline in which a bureau has to respond, and you should be able to follow up with any questions. Once corrected, you should continue monitoring your credit reports from all three bureaus. To learn more about credit reporting, credit bureaus, and credit scores, check out CreditNinja’s online resources!

References: 

  1. Americans are struggling to pay their debts | The Hill

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