Payment history accounts for 35 percent of your credit score, also called a FICO score. A late payment can impact your score. Multiple late or past-due payments can result in severe credit consequences. Fortunately, a delinquent payment is not necessarily irrevocable. Some creditors are willing to negotiate with consumers and remove negative account information. If the debt is reported in error, you may need to bypass the creditor and go straight to the credit bureau.
Creditors often report delinquencies to credit bureaus once an account is 30 days past due. A single 30-day delinquency may not necessarily affect your credit score drastically, but a repeat pattern of late payments will result in a lower score. A 30-day delinquency has the potential to remain on your credit report for seven years. The more delinquent the account, the more dramatic the impact is on your credit. Resolve debt as soon as possible. If you are a current customer and fell behind in the past, ask the creditor to remove the delinquent report. When you are able to prove yourself as a valued customer, creditors are often more eager to meet your needs. Laws require creditors to report accurate account information, but there are no laws against removing negative information.
Months Past Due
If your account is less than 180 days delinquent, there is still hope. Creditors typically report debt older than 180 days as a charge-off. Although the term may imply the debt is written off, it is actually turned over to a collection agency, which attempts to collect the money you owe. Creditors are often eager to settle debt rather than charging it off. The creditor may offer to waive late penalties or even re-age your account to show the payments as current. Explain the reason you fell behind and ask the creditor to remove the adverse information in exchange for payment. The creditor is not required to remove an accurate account information, so it may take some negotiating.
Even after an account is charged-off, you are responsible for paying the debt. The older a charge-off is, the less it affects your score. However, having a charge-off on your credit report makes it difficult to obtain new credit. Try to negotiate with the original creditor when possible. If you pay the balance in full, the charge-off will appear as paid with a zero balance. When you agree to pay a lesser amount, the debt is reported as settled. Regardless, the closed account remains on your credit report for seven years. Inform the creditor you’re interested in making payment arrangements in exchange for having the charged-off status removed. Before paying, request the agreement in writing.
If there is an error on your credit report, including a past due debt, contact the credit bureau to launch an investigation. The credit bureau will investigate the debt by requiring the creditor to show proof the debt is valid and the amount reported is correct. Submit your evidence to the credit bureau, such as a copy of a check or payment receipt. If the credit bureau finds the debt invalid, it will delete it from your report.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.