While not that hard to deal with, financial issues can be quite a headache, especially when it’s time to pay the bills. Late payments are one of many nuisances consumers have to deal with. To estimate the urgency of your situation, you should know how a late payment affects your credit score.
It negatively affects your score by taking points from it. For example, if you have a 30-day delayed payment, you may lose up to 100 points. This may not be a scary number if you have a low credit score, to begin with. For people with large credit scores, this number is to be avoided at any cost.
A low credit score doubles your effort when filing for a credit card or requesting a loan. Unfortunately, this type of headache needs more than a pill to deal with. Luckily for you, we have all the steps you need to go through to fix this issue.
Who Is the Culprit?
The first thing you need to think of, did you really make a late payment? If no, then your late payment is a mistake, and you need to follow these steps.
Look Over Your Credit Report
Lucky for you, according to federal law, you’re allowed to receive a copy of your credit report once a year. For a free copy, you can visit annualcreditreport.com. Typically, you’ll receive your report from three credit scoring agencies: Equifax, Transunion, and Experian.
If you prefer receiving your report directly from the agency, visit one of their websites and follow the steps to get it.
This step won’t yet solve your problem, but it’ll give you a chance to check for any mistakes in your report.
Scan the Credit Report
The first thing to do when you have the report is to scan it for any mistakes. If you don’t know what to look for, don’t worry, we’ve got you!
You’ll first need to check for payments paid on time and make sure they’re all reported correctly. Having records of bill payments would be of a big help here, as they’ll provide solid proof that you didn’t pay late.
Another thing you need to look for is the date of your first late payment.
How Long Do Late Payments Stay on Your Credit Score?
You’ll be surprised to know that late payments are only removed from your report after seven years, almost as if you broke a witch’s mirror!
If there’s any late payment dating to more than seven years, it’s time to take a stand.
Dispute the Issue
After figuring out what went wrong in your report, the right thing to do is to file a dispute right away.
How to File a Dispute
Now comes the importance of having three reports from the three scoring agencies, Transunion, Experian, Equifax, because the mistake might be on just one report of them.
Your next step is to contact the agency at fault. This shouldn’t be too hard because they all have online complaint centers. Typically, any issued dispute takes about 30 days to resolve, so you have to be patient.
Contacting the agency is not enough; you also need to contact your creditor and issue the dispute. If the creditor can’t prove you paid late, then the late payment will automatically drop off your report. After sending your dispute to the creditor, you should expect to listen from them within 30-45 days.
These are the steps you need to take if your late payment is inaccurate. If it is accurate, read on!
Now it’s time to discuss the steps you need to take if you are guilty of paying late. You might think that you don’t have the right to dispute an issue you caused in the first place, but legally, you have. According to law, you’re allowed to question the accuracy of the creditor’s record, even if you trust that they’re accurate.
It’s not guaranteed that this will work. It’s worth trying out, though, when thinking about the notable effect of late payments. In this case, you have quite a few options to try out.
Plead for Forgiveness
If this is your first incidence, your creditor may be kind enough to adjust your report. This is referred to as ‘goodwill adjustment.’
You can try your luck through phone or mail; either way is acceptable. Just justify your delayed payment by stating the circumstances and apologizing.
This is the easiest way, so you should try it first. If it doesn’t work, move on to the next step.
Negotiate an Offer
As any expert negotiator would tell you, the first thing you should think about here is shared interest between you and the creditor. In this case, the middle ground that you can negotiate on will be automatic payments.
Offer to sign up for automatic transactions in exchange for clearing your report. This works both ways. Creditors will have a guaranteed money delivery on time every month. In exchange, you won’t need to worry about a delay again, and your credit score will be back to normal.
Make sure first that your bank account has enough money to enable the autopay option, though.
Hire a Professional
This step will cost you a few hundred dollars, but it’ll buy you peacefulness of mind and a clean report!
The process of clearing late payments from a report takes quite some time. Not only that, but you also need to keep track of the emails you sent and the ones you’re receiving. If you’re a busy person, which is expected, you’ll need an alternative.
The professional you’re looking for here is a credit repair service; yes, they do actually exist! They’ll take the responsibility of filing disputes and tracking them. You need to find a guaranteed company, though, because these services are perfect baits for scammers.
Dispute an Error
As a last resort, you can file a dispute about an error on the report. Check your credit reports for errors. Any error counts; make sure you check your name and the consumer’s names for any spelling mistakes. Another thing you need to revise is your account number and the payment info.
If you’re a lucky one, you’ll detect a mistake in any of those details. Wait no more; file a dispute right away regarding an inaccurate late payment. If the creditor can’t prove otherwise, the faulty late payment will automatically drop off your report.
To Wrap Up
Whether you’re at fault or not, late payments can be a huge bother. They aren’t easy to take off, and they cause recurrent waves of adverse effects.
They remove points from your credit score, which makes for a very challenging loan request as your score is proof to the creditors that you’re trustworthy. It won’t be a very presentable impression if you have delayed payments. They can also lead to you paying higher interest rates.
You have two conditions you’ll have to base your next steps on; If the late payment is an error, filing a dispute is the right choice. If it is your fault, you might need to pack up your politeness kit and send a letter to the creditor.
Even if it’s a chance in a million, it’s worth taking a shot. It will relieve you of unnecessary yet burdening pressure.