Send a goodwill letter to your credit card issuer or lender to get negative items removed from your credit reports. A goodwill letter can be written requesting a deletion of one or several late payments.
One late payment can result in credit scores decreasing by as much as 100 points. Read “How Late Payments Affect Credit Scores” for more information.
What is a Goodwill Letter
A “goodwill letter” is a simple way to rebuild your credit history by asking a creditor restore your credit to good standing by deleting 30-day, 60-day or 90-day late payments from your credit reports. There is no guarantee a goodwill letter will result in the removal of a late payment but it is well worth trying.
Reasons to request a Goodwill Adjustment
Some creditors will delete late payment notations if you have been a good customer for several years and are not typically late paying. In this instance you usually do not have to have a particular reason for being late; you may have just overlooked that payment. It can also be used when you think the late payment is an error – for example, online bill payment failed.
Even if you have not been such a good customer send a goodwill letter. A creditor may remove a late payment if you can show a hardship or other good reason for being late. The hardship could be illness or loss of job; basically something major that temporarily affected your ability to pay on time.
Goodwill letters can also be used to attempt removal of any negative item on your credit reports such as medical collections, parking tickets and even library fines. It never hurts to simply ask the furnisher of information to remove the negative information they put on your credit reports. It may take several attempts before you get the desired results. You may have to send goodwill letters to different decision-making people in a company.
Why Creditors might consider extending Goodwill
Banks and lenders are not in the business of opening accounts just to charge them off or lose customers. Their existing customer base provides long term revenue. They want to retain you as a customer. Extending goodwill to you goes a long way in customer retention and avoiding customer attrition.
What Makes a Convincing Goodwill Letter
Typically, those that have experienced financial hardship due to unexpected circumstances have the most success with goodwill letters.
Take responsibility for the late payment, and explain why it happened. They need to be able to sympathize with you.
This is not a dispute letter. Making threats and using an angry tone is not for this type of letter. You want to be convincing and honest and have an appreciative tone to your letter.
A good recent payment history.
If your creditor sees payments being made on time before and after the period of financial hardship, they might be more willing to grant you goodwill. Make sure you have at least 2-3 months of current on-time payments before you request the creditor grant a goodwill deletion. In other words, don't request a goodwill deletion directly after missing a payment. Re-establish a good payment record first.
Have a purpose.
Aside from just wanting a clean credit report with no negatives, let the creditor know you want to purchase your first home or refinance an existing high interest rate loan. You want to diversify the type of credit on your reports to help your credit scores. You want to add what is considered “good debt” to your reports. Despite recent troubles in the real estate market, homes are generally considered to be good purchases that appreciate in value over time. Your home loan also has tax advantages, as mortgage interest is tax-deductible.
Buying a house.
If you are in the market for a mortgage loan, let the creditor know. Respectfully explain to the creditor that the negative tradeline may affect your chances of obtaining the very lowest interest rates now available. Since you have either paid the account in full or restored the account to a current status ask the creditor for a second chance at a positive credit rating.
Proof of any errors and relevant documents.
If you're writing about a mistake that occurred, still be friendly in tone, but back up the errors with documentation. You'll need proof that what you're saying is true.
Where to send a Goodwill Letter.
A goodwill letter should always be sent to a company executive, such as the CEO, Vice President or Director, this can often lead to a positive outcome. You may have to do a little research to find the names and addresses of officers of the company. A good resource may be Hoovers.com. Always send the letter certified return receipt. Always be persistent. If the first request for a goodwill adjustment does not work — try a 2nd or 3rd request.
The below sample should give you an idea of what direction to take with your goodwill letter.
Your City, State Zip
Creditor's City, State & Zip Code
Re: Account Number
Dear (Name of Executive):
I have been a good customer with your company since (year). I enjoy doing business with your company and have been pleased over the years. I am writing to request a “goodwill” adjustment be made to the above-mentioned account with the three major credit reporting agencies.
“This is not a dispute of accuracy of credit reporting under FCRA 611(a) or FCRA 623(a)(8),” or words to that effect.
Note: The above clarification using the FCRA may be necessary to include because letters received by creditors are processed by personnel who often misinterpret the content and treat a Goodwill request as a dispute. This may result in a “notice of a consumer dispute” posted to your credit reports which is hard to get rid of. And, you could end up receiving a frivolous letter back from the creditor stating you have provided inadequate information to process your dispute. The intent of the Goodwill request is for the creditor to grant their good-will and discretion for removal of negative information; not to initiate a credit dispute.
Although I made a late payment(s) on (date), I have an excellent payment history otherwise. My monthly payments are always on time. Please consider removing the negative payment reported by your company from my credit reports. The late payment was a temporary oversight and it has not occurred since that time. The late payments I am requesting deleted and/or removed occurred on (date).
These late payments do not reflect my overall good payment history with your company and I would like them removed. I experienced a temporary loss of income due to (whatever). Again, I really enjoy doing business with your company and hope to continue a satisfying relationship in the future. Please take into consideration my loyalty to your company and work with me to remove these negative marks from my credit reports.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.