Financial mistakes can cause hefty damage to your credit score. If you pay your credit card bill more than 30 days late, for example, your score can tumble by 100 points. If you have a foreclosure on your home, your score can fall by 150 points or more, depending on how long ago your lender filed for foreclosure. (See also: 5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment)
These mistakes stay on your three credit reports — one each maintained by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — for seven to 10 years.
There may be some hope of removing those financial mistakes sooner, however. Consumers have had some success requesting that banks, lenders, and other creditors remove their late or missed payments from their credit reports early by writing what is known as a goodwill letter — letters sent to creditors outlining the reasons for their missed payments, explaining why they’ll never miss a payment again, and requesting that these creditors remove the financial mistake from their credit reports.
These letters offer no guarantee of success. Some creditors will simply respond that they are legally required to report the financial mistake for the set period of time. Others won’t respond at all.
But if there’s even a slim chance that a goodwill letter will work, why not try it?
When goodwill letters do the most good
The most common financial mistake that ends up on credit reports — and the one that goodwill letters have the best chance of erasing — are late payments. It’s important to realize, though, that late payments are only officially late for credit purposes when they are more than 30 days past due.
Missed payments stay on your credit reports for seven years. How much these payments lower your FICO score varies depending on how high your score was to begin with and several other factors. But…
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