So you’ve found one or more late payments on your credit reports. Now, what do you do? Luckily, we have a lot of tools for increasing your credit scores, including these tips you can try to remove the late payments or at least reduce their effect.
Note: If you’re not sure how much of an effect your late payments may be having on your credit scores, read our article How Your Payment History Impacts Your Credit Scores.
Stop the Late-Payment Bleeding
The first step to healing a wound is to close it up. The same rule applies to late payments. It can happen to anyone. Your bill got lost in the mail or buried in a pile of junk mail. Your auto-payment didn’t go through for some reason. Or you just plain forgot.
It might seem like obvious advice, but before you go about trying to remove old late payments, do everything you can to prevent new ones first.
Automate Your Payments
Setting up auto-payments is easier than ever. It’s probably a feature of your bank’s online banking service, most of which are free.
You can also set up payment reminders, either through your bank, an online service, setting reminders on your phone, or even simply on an old-fashioned calendar.
Be sure to schedule your payments according to your income. Try to schedule auto-payments a couple of days after you get your paycheck.
This leaves you time to cancel the payment if something goes wrong, but it also prevents you from spending too much before your bills are paid on time.
Get Back in Good Standing
Were over 30 days late once but then paid your next bill on time, but you never paid off your overdue amount? More than likely, every payment since then has been reported as 30 days late.
Every payment reported as late on your credit report means more points off of your credit scores. Furthermore, your account is still reporting as currently late.
If you have any overdue amount or fees on any of your accounts, pay them. You will then be back in good standing, which will be reported to the credit bureaus. Also, your next payments will be recorded as timely (as long as you make them on time!)
Getting Your Late Payments Removed
Okay, now for the meat. The best way to reduce the impact of late payments on your credit report is, of course, to get them removed from your credit reports altogether.
Fortunately, there are several tactics you can try to legally, permanently get your late payments removed.
Check Your Payment History for Errors
The surest way to get late payments removed is to dispute those that are incorrect or incomplete and potentially unverifiable.
This is the standard that the credit bureaus must meet to be reporting late payments on your credit reports in the first place.
Review your late payments carefully. If you have proof that they were actually paid on time, include it with your disputes to the credit bureaus.
If the last late payment is over seven years old, it should no longer be reporting. This would be another valid reason to dispute it.
If there is conflicting or incomplete data, that is also a sign of reporting errors.
Of course, you can also hire a credit repair expert like us to professionally audit your credit report and find errors that the average consumer would never notice.
Ask or Bargain for Removal
What if your late payments are verified by the credit bureaus? What can you do then?
Luckily, that isn’t always the end of the line. There are other things you can try, such as simply asking your original creditor to remove your late payments.
Remember, you’re asking for a favor. The odds are a lot better under certain circumstances, such as these examples from The Balance:
They are not required to do so, but they may be willing to accommodate your request, especially if one or more of the following apply:
- You have a legitimate reason for paying late (hospitalization, disaster, bank errors).
- You can offer them something in return.
- You otherwise pay your bills on time (or you have been paying on time recently).
In addition to the factors above, you’ll get better results if you ask nicely.
Minimizing the Damage
Your entire credit history is factored in together when FICO calculates your credit scores. This means that increasing the strength of the other factors of your credit profile will ultimately help you reduce the negative impact of your late payments.
Your credit balances, aka your utilization ratio, makes up the next-highest impact on your credit scores. The length of your credit history overall also has a fairly large impact, usually around 15%. You can learn more about these and other factors here.
And don’t forget our tools for addressing your credit problems.
It’s crazy to think that one late payment could make the difference between qualifying for your new home or car or not, but people face that reality every day.
Give the tips and strategies above a try, but if you find it too much to deal with, our credit professionals are right here ready to help! Just reach out to us today.