Your credit score is compiled by FICO, which uses a number of factors to assess how reliable you are as a borrower. It's used for everything from getting a credit card to buying a house. Your payment history is about 35 percent of that rating. One late payment won't destroy your score if your other payments are up to date, but you want to remove that record to keep your score as high as possible.
How quickly you move will help you get rid of a late payment record. Most lenders won't report a mortgage payment as late until it is 30 days past due. In other words, if your payment was due June 1 and you didn't send it in until June 15, you probably have time to contact your lender and explain the situation. Often that will prevent the lender from reporting it, especially if you pay before July 1.
Have a Good Explanation
Explaining why your payment was late will help you get it off your record. You may have a valid reason -- for example, you were tending to a sick parent, your company sent you overseas and you were delayed returning, or two checks got mixed up in the mail. Call your lender, explain the situation and ask to have the late report removed.
Write a Letter
After you call the lender you should follow up with a formal letter asking that your late payment be taken off your record. Send along copies of any documentation to prove your case. Lenders and credit reporting agencies are required to investigate all claims and should respond within 30 days. If your explanation is satisfactory, the late payment usually will be removed. Get a copy of your credit report to verify that.
Contact Credit Bureaus or FICO
You can get information about your credit score, including how to challenge any element, either by contacting the credit bureaus or FICO, the company that calculates credit scores. You're also entitled to a free report from each of the three credit agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, once you challenge anything in a credit report.
You May Be Stuck
If your payment is more than 90 days late or you have a history of late payments, you're probably stuck. You can try to recover by making a double payment next time but this probably won't help get the late payment off your record unless you can double up enough to catch up with any delinquency. Even if you manage to get caught up, there probably will be some effect on your credit score for a while.
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