How Can I Correct a Late Payment Misunderstanding?

How Can I Correct a Late Payment Misunderstanding? article image.
Dear Experian,

After paying off an account and removing it from autopay, I later found out that I was being billed for an interest fee of $2. I paid that off. Then to my surprise just last month, I received a delinquent payment from a late fee, and on top of that an interest fee tacked on. I went from an 808 credit score to a 675. It had dropped 133 points for a bill I had paid off! I have worked hard to get it up there only to have it drop because of something I was totally unaware of. Now it's at a 742, but it's the principle of the matter. I have been excellent in my usage and paying. Is there anything you can do to help raise it back to where it was?

- ITF

Dear ITF,

If you haven't already done so, contact your lender directly to discuss the situation. In some cases where there has been a mix-up, your lender may be willing to remove the delinquency from your credit report, especially if you have always made all your other payments on time.

How Is My Credit Report Updated?

If the lender agrees, they can contact Experian and ask that the missed payment be removed from your credit report. You'll want to check your credit reports from Equifax and TransUnion as well to see if the delinquency was also reported to those bureaus. If it was, ask your lender to ensure the information is updated with all three credit reporting companies.

You can also dispute the late payment through Experian using our online Dispute Center. Be sure to provide the same explanation of circumstances that you've given here. The other bureaus have dispute processes of their own.

How Can I Improve My Scores After a Late Payment?

If your lender does not agree to remove the late payment notation, it will remain part of your credit history for seven years. However, even if the late payment stays on your report, it will impact your scores less as time passes. As you've already seen, just bringing the account current again resulted in your credit score rebounding. Going forward, you can continue to rebuild your scores by:

  • Making all payments on time. On-time payments are the most important factor in credit scores. If possible, sign up for alerts that tell you when a payment is due.
  • Keeping your credit card balances as low as possible. Your credit utilization ratio is the second most important factor in your FICO® Scores . The lower your utilization ratio, the better.
  • Keeping credit card accounts active. Making small purchases and paying them off in full at the end of each billing cycle shows lenders you know how to manage credit responsibly.
  • Ordering your free credit score from Experian. Your score will come with a list of risk factors that are currently impacting your scores the most. Improving on these factors could help your scores increase.
  • Adding on-time utility, cellphone and streaming service payments with Experian Boost . Signing up for this free service allows you to add positive payment history to your credit report in order to boost your Experian credit score immediately.

Keep in mind that it may take some time to get your credit scores back to where they were before the payment mishap, but your most recent credit usage will have the most impact on your scores. As long as you manage your accounts well going forward, your future credit scores will reflect that.

Thanks for asking.

Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist

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Personal credit report disputes cannot be submitted through Ask Experian. To dispute information in your personal credit report, simply follow the instructions provided with it. Your personal credit report includes appropriate contact information including a website address, toll-free telephone number and mailing address.

To submit a dispute online visit Experian's Dispute Center. If you have a current copy of your personal credit report, simply enter the report number where indicated, and follow the instructions provided. If you do not have a current personal report, Experian will provide a free copy when you submit the information requested. Additionally, you may obtain a free copy of your report once a week through April 2022 at AnnualCreditReport.