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You Ask. Bev Answers: How Long Do Late Payments Stay on My Credit Reports?

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In a time of great uncertainty, a voice of knowledge and reassurance can make all the difference. Beverly Anderson, President of Global Consumer Solutions at Equifax, answers your questions based on her years of experience in the consumer finance industry. You can post a question for Bev on Equifax’s Facebook page. Bev regrets that she cannot answer every question individually.

Question: I've recently made several late credit card payments due to a Covid-19 related job loss. How long do late payments stay on my credit reports?

Generally, a late payment on your credit card account will remain on your credit history for up to seven years, even if you pay the past-due balance in full. The late payment will usually appear on your credit reports starting from the date of the missed payment.

It’s a good idea to regularly check your credit reports to ensure that late payments fall off after the allotted time period. Typically, you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit reports every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus. However, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, all three nationwide credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — are offering free weekly online credit reports via through April 2021. You can also create a myEquifax account to get six free Equifax credit reports each year. In addition, you can click “Get my free credit score” on your myEquifax dashboard to enroll in Equifax Core Credit™ for a free monthly Equifax credit report and a free monthly VantageScore® 3.0 credit score, based on Equifax data. A VantageScore is one of many types of credit scores you’ll come across. You may see others from your bank or if you apply for credit or a loan.

If you have already missed a payment or been late making a payment, you might consider adding a consumer statement to your credit reports. A consumer statement is a brief explanation (no more than 100 words) of your situation, in this case to clarify why you were late making your payment.

Here’s an example of a consumer statement: “Be advised that the negative accounts on my credit report are related to a temporary reduction in income due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I intend to make these up as soon as I can.” Learn how to add a statement to your Equifax credit file here.

Additionally, many lenders are making exceptions because of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you communicate with your lenders before missing a payment, they may be able to work out a delayed or reduced payment plan that is more affordable. Depending on the type of account you have, your lender may agree to let you delay or suspend payments for a period of time. Options vary, so it’s important to reach out to your lender as soon as you are impacted.

Note that any accommodation agreement you’re offered may still include interest and/or late fees, so make sure you understand the terms before you sign off on anything. It’s also important to confirm that your credit reports accurately reflect your accommodation agreement, and you should reach out to your lender if something appears wrong on your credit reports. To contact your lender or creditor, take a look at our Knowledge Center, which includes links to more than 100 different lenders and creditors.

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act also prescribed some forbearance initiatives to accommodate Americans struggling financially during the Covid-19 pandemic. These included temporarily suspending most federally held student loan payments through September 30, 2020 and halting foreclosures and evictions for federally backed mortgages. You can read the Equifax summary of the CARES Act here to see if any of its relief measures might help you.

About Beverly:
Beverly Anderson is the President of Global Consumer Solutions at Equifax. She is responsible for the strategy, development, growth and profitability of direct and indirect businesses serving consumers with credit, identity and financial education products and services.

For more than three decades, Beverly has built businesses and delivered significant results in the financial services and payments industries. She drove consumer and small business strategies, product strategies, and enterprise growth and profitability strategies for First USA (now JPMorgan Chase), Fleet (now Bank of America) and American Express. Before joining Equifax, she was the Executive Vice President of Cards and Retail Services at Wells Fargo where she led consumer credit cards, co-branded cards, loyalty solutions, retail finance, digital payments and enablement capabilities. She has also held leadership roles managing auto loans, personal lines and loans, servicing, loan operations, collections and fraud operations.

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