If you have been turned down for credit, you may need to remove late payments from your credit report. If the credit bureau report is in error you should be able to remove incorrect information.
However, if you have made a late payment and the information reported to the credit reporting agency is correct, you may still be able to remove that black mark if you persist.
The first step is to obtain copies of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian). You need all three reports as the bureaus do not always have the same information in their file.
Some parts of the country use one reporting agency more than the others and local branches of the national credit bureaus may also contribute to one credit agency and not to the others.
The law provides you with the ability to receive one free credit report from each credit reporting bureau per year. Request your credit file online and when it is mailed you, carefully look through the items entered.
If there is an incorrect item that is the first item you should ask to be removed. It is not as simple as calling the credit bureau but if you follow the steps below it may be possible to remove a negative item from your file.
1. Call The Lender or Credit Card Company
If a lender is reporting a payment made 30-60 days late, contact the creditor directory and ask for the late payment to be removed from your credit file.
If you feel the report is in error and there was no late payment, have your documents ready so you can give the lender dates of payment due and check number or date when payment was made.
If the report is clearly in error, that may be enough to solve the problem but it may take 30 days or more before the late payment is removed from your credit report.
When a payment was made late, you may still be able to remove that black mark from your credit rating if your lender is willing to work with you.
If you have only one or two late payments that were due to job loss or medical emergency and all other payments have been made on time, some lenders may decide to remove the bad report.
If you have a habit of late payments or late payments on several loans or credit cards, it is very doubtful the late payments would be removed.
2. Error in Your Report
If the lender insists there was a credit card late payment and you think the report is in error, write to the credit bureau. Provide documentation in the form of a copy of the monthly bill and the date payment was made and request an investigation.
There is also a dispute form online though you may still be required to send documentation by mail. The credit agency will have 30 days to respond. They will request re-verification of the late payment by the lender and then will inform you of their decision.
3. Refusing To Remove The Late Payment
If the rating agency refuses to remove the late payment you can file a formal dispute complaint. If you can document the item in your credit file is incorrect, this is the next step to take. However, if the late payment report is correct and you cannot prove otherwise, this step may be a waste of time.
Each time you dispute an item on your credit file, the credit bureaus must re-confirm that information with the lender. This is the trick used by companies that claim they can clear your credit (and charges you for doing that).
They operate by disputing a black mark on your file again and again – in the hope that eventually the lender won’t bother to respond.
The same plan can work if you have just one or two late payments and have a record of good payments on other accounts. Persistence over time can pay off. The lending company may be sold, the account may be in good standing and the late payment in the past or the account may be closed.
All of these may result in the lender not re-issuing the late payment report when the credit bureaus investigate. That would remove late payments from your credit file in time.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also be interested in how to apply for a credit card with bad credit (which I highly recommend)!