Establishing credit is an important part of taking on adult financial responsibilities. Applying for credit, using it wisely and paying your bills on time will help you establish a high credit score. This will encourage lenders to make loans and extend credit to you in the future. Getting a black mark for slow or late payment can lower your credit score, which can make it harder to obtain financing when you need it.
Pay all of your other bills on or before their due dates. Time is the only cure for getting a legitimate black mark removed from your credit report, so make sure the rest of your record reflects a positive record of paying off your obligations. The longer history you create of on-time bill payment, the better your credit score will get.
Negotiate with creditors. While it’s not a sure-fire bet, if you contact your creditors directly and provide a rational explanation for why you missed a payment, they may be willing to refrain from reporting you to the credit bureaus.
Dispute errors in writing. If your credit report shows a credit account that’s not yours or that has a mistake you can prove you didn’t make, contact the credit reporting agency and request that the discrepancy be corrected.
Attach a letter when you apply for a loan that explains the black mark on your credit report. For example, if you lost your job and couldn’t make your payment or were involved in an accident, credit report readers will at least be able to see you had extenuating circumstances that caused your late payment.
- If you know you aren’t going to be able to pay a bill on time, don’t just let it slide -- call the company and explain your circumstances. Sometimes they’ll let you skip a payment, make a partial payment or give you extra time to get your money in. Just touching base and letting a creditor know you aren’t trying to dodge responsibility can be enough to keep them from reporting you to the credit bureaus.
- Beware of scams that promise to fix your credit or have accurate negative entries removed from your credit report. If you decide to consult a debt consolidation or consumer credit counseling program to help you manage your debt, go through the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to ensure you find a legitimate service provider.
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images