Loans > How to Remove Late Payments From Your Credit Report

How to Remove Late Payments From Your Credit Report

Late payments are the sworn enemy of a financially struggling individual.

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Reviewed by
Updated January 10, 2022

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In pop culture, the “dark mark” is a gang symbol used by murderous magical beings whose leader seeks to destroy a boy with a lightning bolt scar. ⚡

In credit culture, the dark mark is a late payment, posted on your credit report for all the creditors to see. Unfortunately, you can see far more people with these scars in the COVID-19 era than in recent years—and the delinquency rates are still going up.

But out of all the negative marks and credit factors, a late payment is arguably the biggest deal. And even though you’re far from being alone in bearing the dark mark, it’s still not a good thing to have on your credit report. 

A single late payment can wreck your credit score and stunt the growth of your financial future. After all, the entire purpose of a credit score is to determine if you will make your payments on a debt. 

Fortunately, there are ways you can remove the stain of a late payment and also do some damage control. Let’s see what these are, and you’ll be ready to fix your credit in 5 minutes.

What you’ll learn
  • Why Late Payments Matter
  • Reviewing Your Credit Report
  • How to Dispute Errors
  • Tactics to Remove a Late Payment
  • Moving Forward
  • Borrowing with Bad Credit

Why Late Payments Matter 💸

According to the FICO scoring model, one of the most widely used credit scoring models, payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score. This means that payment history has the highest impact on your credit score. 

FICO also reports that just a single 30-day past due can knock up to 110 points off a great credit score of 750+. Therefore, late payments can really impact your creditworthiness and your ability to borrow. Not to be grim, but you’re going to have a tough time getting a mortgage with late payments on your credit report.

Some credit card issuers can even increase your interest rate, or void a financing term if you’ve paid late even just one time. In almost every case, late fees will also apply to a late payment. Both of these things mean you will wind up paying more money. 💰

And finally, the worst part of it all is that the late payment dark mark stays on your credit report for seven whole years, if left ignored.

Key Takeaways 🔑

  1. Payment history is the heaviest weighted credit factor. This means that just one missed payment can make a huge impact on your credit. 
  2. You are unlikely to suffer any credit consequences until your payment is 30 days or more past due. This doesn’t mean you are free from late fees or changed financing terms though.
  3. Make sure to monitor your credit report for errors to catch issues as they happen.
  4. Submit a dispute to the credit bureaus if you find any discrepancies, misreporting, or false information.
  5. Your best option is to ask the creditor/lender directly to remove an accurate late payment. You can do this via a goodwill adjustment letter or phone call.
  6. You can always wait it out if you fail to get the lender on your side. In seven years you will be free from the mark.
  7. If you can’t get the late payment removed, focus on moving on and rebuilding your credit. 

Review Your Credit Report 📄

As with any dispute or request for deletion, the first step is to review your credit report. Make it a habit to always monitor and review your credit reports from all three credit bureaus.

Usually, you could obtain a copy of your credit report for free annually from each credit reporting company—but the credit bureaus offer free weekly reports as part of their COVID-19 relief effort. Additionally, if you have a major credit card, it’s likely monthly credit reporting is a service offered for free with being a cardholder.

Studying your credit reports often will help you notice any inaccuracies or misreporting. Moreover, clerical errors and miscommunications do happen and it’s important to catch them as soon as they happen. It’s possible that you have never had a late or missed payment on an account late but your report shows otherwise.

Other common errors include incorrect past due amounts and an incorrect number of missed payments. Also, late payments that are seven years or older still showing on your credit report is another possible error.

In the case of any error, you can submit a dispute with either the original creditor or the reporting credit bureau. Make sure to always keep records of your payments to further defend yourself.

Watch Out for Identity-Related Errors 🕵️‍♂️

Most late payment reporting errors are record reporting issues. But sometimes identity-related errors do happen—these less common errors include things like identity theft and filing errors. 

Identity theft involves a criminal obtaining and then using your personal information to open an account in your name. This is becoming more and more common with the digital age—hackers are always on the lookout for everyone’s valuable personal info, especially during the holidays and festive seasons. 

Identity theft is an absolute mess that we sincerely hope you never have to deal with it. Unsecured accounts like credit cards and personal loans are the more common account types involved in identity theft. 

If you are monitoring your credit report often, you’ll hopefully notice signs of identity theft far before a late payment occurs.

Young millennial male sitting at a desk in a house and reviewing his credit report.
Credit report errors are more common than most people think—but they can be found with a quick review.

Filing errors are another identity issue. Sometimes a creditor or credit bureau mixes up information between two individuals. This is especially common with names that have close spellings. Also, if you have a common last name you are far more susceptible. That’s some tough luck. 

Filing a dispute with the credit bureaus can correct both of these issues on a credit report. Though admittedly, there’s a lot more you need to do to protect yourself when dealing with identity theft. We suggest checking out the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) official identity theft website that acts as a guide for identity theft victims.

How to Dispute Errors in Your Credit Report 👩‍⚖️

Found an error? It’s time to dispute it!

Credit reporting agencies are required by law to acknowledge and verify any dispute or account. This is no different with late payments. If the bureaus can’t verify the legitimacy of it, the mark has to come off your report. You can submit a dispute to Experian, Equifax, and Transunion either by phone, mail or online.

Here’s how you can get in touch with each of the three major credit bureaus:

Experian

Experian Dispute 
P.O. Box 4500 
Allen, TX 75013
Online: https://www.experian.com/consumer/upload/
Phone: (714) 830-7000

Equifax

Equifax Information Services LLC 
P.O. Box 740256 
Atlanta, GA 30374
Online: https://www.equifax.com/personal/disputes
Phone: (800) 846-5279

Transunion

TransUnion LLC 
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000 
Chester, PA 19016
Online: https://dispute.transunion.com
Phone: 800-916-8800 

If you decide to submit the dispute via mail, we recommend sending a letter via certified mail so you can keep better track. We also suggest to follow up 30 days after submitting your dispute to verify receipt. The dispute process is a pretty simple one, but on average can take a few weeks to complete. ✉️

If you do not have the weeks to wait for the dispute’s resolution, a process called rapid rescoring can speed up the dispute. This is a common process for major transactions, such as purchasing a home. Lenders or creditors can start this process, so discuss this option with your mortgage lender.

Tactics to Remove a Late Payment ✅

If you find that the late payment is accurately reported and your actual wrongdoing, it’s going to be a little more difficult to get it removed. This is simply because lenders and creditors are in no way required to remove a legitimate late payment before the seven-year wait period.

However, while it may be more difficult, there is still a shot of wiping the mark from your record. As the ancient saying goes—never say never.

The most straightforward approach is to just ask the creditor/lender to remove the late payment from your credit report. You can do this by either making some phone calls or by writing a goodwill adjustment letter. 

A goodwill adjustment letter is an age-old tactic. It entails you admitting your mistakes and simultaneously begging for forgiveness. A goodwill adjustment letter allows you to explain your situation and why you believe the late payment should be deleted. 

It’s not guaranteed to work, but if you aren’t a repeat offender and have since made your account right, they just may be willing to work with you. Valid reasons that stand a higher chance of successful persuasion include:

  • An unexpected financial hardship has impacted your life. This includes things like job loss, divorce, or even a global pandemic (looking at you, COVID-19). 👀
  • You’ve endured a hardship such as a natural disaster or hospitalization of yourself or a close loved one. 🚑
  • You did not receive the bill due to moving. 📦
  • A technical glitch (example: autopay/bill pay) did not process the payment and you did not notice it. 🖥️

You also can play the “I made a one-time mistake” card to your advantage. This especially works if you have a long, established relationship with the lender/creditor. For example, if you’ve had your account for five years but have only managed to miss one single payment, they may just cut you some slack.

Just remember to be nice, courteous, honest, and sincere. You are a human, and when speaking to a human, you may get some sympathy. Also, don’t ever give up. If you ask once, you can keep trying periodically. As time progresses, and the older the missed payment is, your chances increase—and even if it doesn’t work, this is just one of the many ways you can boost your credit rating.

🛠 Looking to raise your credit score? Take a look at the most popular credit repair companies.

When Hardships Strike ⚡️

We know you don’t want to hear it, but it’s a reality you must face: There’s a possibility you just can’t and won’t convince the creditor to remove the dark mark. There’s a real possibility that you’ll end up stuck with the late payment on your credit report.

In the event that you are faced with this unfavorable situation, all you can do is play the waiting game. And then, after seven years maximum, you are free from the late payment remark. 

So, just wait it out. Have some patience and go about your life. As time progresses, the impact of the missed payment won’t be as big of a deal in relation to the rest of your credit report and you’ll be able to find a favorable personal loan soon enough. In the meantime, you can do damage control by making sure you continue to make on-time payments. 

Smiling young woman wearing jacket and sunglasses, and sitting on a bench trading forex on her phone
If you can’t get late payments removed, you can still move forward by building credit.

This in turn increases your percentage of on-time payments, which lowers the impact of a single missed payment. If you’ve made 400 on-time payments across 10 accounts in the past several years, one missed payment a few years ago isn’t going to affect you as badly. Besides, it can even be possible to get a mortgage with bad credit.

Continue to keep monitoring your credit report for discrepancies and other factors. Try to maintain a good credit utilization ratio and avoid too many hard inquiries. Focus on increasing your credit score and learning from your mistakes.

Can You Borrow With a Low Credit Score?

Sure, a single missed payment can be a big hit to your credit. But, don’t let this completely discount the idea of borrowing money.

There are specific types of loans for borrowers with bad credit or credit rebuilding. You can also look into secured credit cards where you offer a cash deposit upfront. Whatever route you go, there are options out there—just make sure to avoid payday lenders or predatory high-interest loans! 🦈

Additionally, asking a close loved one to cosign certain types of loans with you can also help your approval odds. Plus, it just may help keep you accountable because if you miss a payment, you aren’t only harming yourself, but the cosigner too.

A late payment doesn’t have to be the end of your borrowing days. Just hang in there, work hard to rebuild, and never give up!

All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on tokenist.com. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

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