Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Remove Late Payments: How to Write a Goodwill Letter That Works

Make a goodwill letter work for you
Late payments on your credit report can wreak havoc on your credit scores and prevent you from qualifying for the best rates when you go to finance a home or car or apply for new credit. These late payments remain a part of your credit history for seven years unless you take action.

One method for removing late payments that many consumers have had good luck with is the goodwill letter. A goodwill letter is exactly what it sounds like: a plea to the creditor to delete the late payment notations from your credit report out of sheer good will.

Unfortunately, goodwill letters can fail for a variety of reasons. One common reason is that debtors, unsure of how to pen their own, unique, goodwill letter, simply copy and paste sample goodwill letters from the internet. After awhile, creditors recognize these copy-and-pasted letters as nothing more than form letters. This shows the creditor that you don't really care enough to take the time to pen your own letter.

I'm going to provide you with a step-by-step formula that will allow you to write your own unique goodwill letter without the frustration of trying to figure out just what to say and how to say it. I'll then show you an example of the completed formula as a completed goodwill letter.

Step 1: The greeting. Yep, this is starting to feel like the "how to construct a friendly or business letter" lesson from your third grade English class, but the greeting is important. If you've done a bit of research and know exactly who you're sending this letter to, use that individual's name. For example:  "Dear Mr. X" Don't use their first name. You want to demonstrate that you're showing respect right out of the gate, and this person isn't your next-door neighbor. You're not on a first name basis.

Step 2: Introduce yourself. Humanize yourself. Make the individual reading the letter view you as a real person and not just a name on a page asking to have perfectly legitimate late payments removed. Keep it brief and keep it believable. No credit card company is going to believe that you spend your life traveling to third-world countries teaching blind children to read Braille--even if its true.

Step 3: Mention your history as a customer. The longer you've held the card, the better. Credit card companies spend millions of dollars each year trying, not just to attract new customers, but to keep their existing client base. Loyalty points are important when asking a credit card company to remove your late payments.

Step 4: State that you want to remain a customer and compliment the company. This compliment can be simple or as complex as a short anecdote about a good experience you had with customer service, card security, etc. Don't \overdo it, but a little bit of well-placed flattery will always work in your favor.

Step 5: Explain the circumstances surrounding your missed payment or payments and own your mistake. You don't have to go into extensive detail (because credit card companies have heard every sad story in the book, I promise) What's important here is merely demonstrating to the credit card company that you made a simple mistake.

Step 6 : Refer back to your good payment history prior to the late payment occurring, and ask that the credit card company delete the negative entries as a gesture of good will. . Invite that the credit card company to take a look at your credit report (you have an account with them so they're free to pull it whenever they wish) to see what a responsible person you are. Your task here is demonstrating to the credit card company that you are not the type of customer to skip payments.

Step 7: Note the damage to your credit scores and how that has affected your life. Point out that, given your positive payment history with this company and others over the years, the amount of damage your credit sustained doesn't accurately affect your creditworthiness.

Step 8: Promise to never let this happen again and follow that up with a little "proof." Signing up for automatic payments, for example, eliminates the possibility that you could miss payments again due to simple human error.

Let's look at a sample letter broken down into the above elements. I'm going to use a random job and Capital One as my target, just for the purposes of the example.

Step 1: Dear Ms. X:

Step 2: My name is Lee Edwards. I have a wife and three children and I'm a high school math teacher.

Step 3: I'm proud to say that I've had an account with Capital One for the past ten years.

Step 4: I've been surprisingly pleased by the service I've received. Just last year a suspicious charge showed up on my credit card statement. When I called your offices to find out more about the charge, the customer service representative was kind enough to simply remove it. There was no hassle, and I'm very grateful for that.

Step 5: Unfortunately, my past experience with your company isn't my reason for writing you today. I pulled my credit report recently and discovered a late payment notation for my Capital One card for the months of March and April. In February, my wife developed a serious illness and was hospitalized. When she returned home, she required round-the-clock care. Her illness eclipsed everything else in my life and, for the first time ever, I missed two credit card payments. I'm not trying to make excuses, but its important to me that your company know that my missed payments weren't a result of financial trouble or irresponsibility.

Step 6: In ten years of being a responsible card holder who always paid on time, this is the only time I've been so late paying my credit card bill. If you pull my credit report, you'll see that I have a good history of paying my debts and that the late payments are not indicative of my behavior as a whole. Because of this, I humbly ask that you consider these factors and remove the late payments from my credit record.

Step 7: After pulling my credit scores, I discovered that these late payments have caused my credit scores to fall by roughly 150 points. It took many years of hard work and timely payments to build my previously excellent credit rating and a single illness to knock it down.

Step 8: These two late payments are an anomaly for me and a situation that will never repeat itself. Please give me a chance to prove that I am still that good customer I've been for the past ten years.

Thank you,

Lee Edwards

1 comment:

  1. That is an awesome letter. Thankyou very much for taking the time to share this, this will help me immensely.