Depending on how late a creditor reports you were on a payment, even a single late payment on your credit reports can do serious damage to your credit score. One 90-day late payment reported to the credit bureaus can damage your credit score as much as a collection account, judgment, or tax lien.
30 and 60 day late payments don't count as heavily against your credit score, but if you have a number of these negative listings on your credit reports, don't be surprised when your credit score isn't as high as you would prefer it to be.
Regardless of whether a late payment is reported as 30, 60, 90, or 120 days past due, your credit score would likely be better if it didn't appear on your credit reports at all. Just about everyone would want to have this derogatory credit listing erased, but few realize there is something they can do about it. What they are not aware of is that there are steps you can take in an effort to delete late payments from your credit reports. In fact, Lexington Law, a consumer advocacy law firm with 18 years of experience helping over 1/2 million Americans work to improve their credit, reports that their clients had over 140,000 late payments removed from their credit reports in 2008.
You have a number of options when it comes to fixing your credit. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can request the credit bureaus verify any items in your credit reports you feel may be inaccurate, untimely, misleading, incomplete, ambiguous, unverifiable, biased or unclear (known as "questionable" items). Essentially, you are able to to question any items that you feel give lenders, employers, and others an unfair or inaccurate impression of your credit worthiness; including late payments.
If a credit bureau dispute doesn't result in a removal or if the reported late payment does not qualify as a questionable negative item, there are still options available to you. Your creditors have the ability to remove the items they have added to your credit reports whenever they have reason to do so. Sometimes, simply as a result of you asking nicely, they will agree to stop reporting a negative item. If a friendly request fails to produce results, there are more confrontational steps you can take that make use of your rights under consumer protection statutes such as the Fair Credit Billing Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
It isn't necessarily easy, but with time, effort, and proper knowledge, you may be able to remove late payments from your credit reports. Of course, if you do not have the time or the desire to attempt repairing your own credit, there are a number of reputable credit repair companies who can make use of their experience to assist you in working towards your credit goals.
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Since 1991, Lexington Law's credit repair services have been helping clients legally dispute the questionable negative items in their credit reports. In 2008, Lexington Law's clients saw over 140,000 late payments removed from their credit reports (combined removals for all three credit bureaus).
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