Q.I recently checked out my credit report and found a negative item on it regarding two months of late credit card payments. Both were only 30 days late and are now paid in full. Is there any way to get that removed or somehow updated it so it's not hurting my credit?
A. OK, let’s start with the bad news. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, creditors are permitted to report a minor delinquency like the one our reader mentions for up to seven years from the date they occur. During this time, it will have some effect on your score.
While the initial hit can be steep, though, the impact lessens over time, making it possible to have a good FICO score despite the late payments. Delinquencies that are more serious – for instance, payments that were 90 days or more overdue – will take longer to begin aging off of the report.
“Assuming all else is well, you can expect your score to start recovering after as little as 12 months,” says John Ulzheimer, CEO of SmartCredit.com.
There is also an outside chance you can get your creditor to remove the negative item, especially if the late payments were atypical behavior.
“You can certainly request what's referred to as a ‘good will deletion’ from the credit card issuer,” Ulzheimer says. “Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. But it doesn't cost you anything to ask them to remove the late payments.”