1. Get all the facts
Once a year, you can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus, either online, by phone or by mail. And you should.
When it arrives, you should read each credit report carefully. Mistakes happen all the time, and it’s your reputation (and score) on the line — so do your own due diligence and investigate. Make sure there are no mistakes on your report, like old debts you’ve already paid down or erroneous “missed payments.”
If there are mistakes on your credit report, fret not. It’s an easy fix. You can dispute the mistake by calling up the creditor, who then has 30 days to investigate. If it’s deemed to be an error, it’ll fall off your credit report within a month.
2. Call a truce with your creditors
Let’s say a bill got lost in the mail and you accidentally missed a payment. Or life happened, and you weren't able to make ends meet one month. Nobody's perfect — we've all been there.
All you have to do is write a “goodwill letter” explaining to the creditor why you weren’t able to make your payment on time. Your letter should be concise and to the point, and most importantly, should make a strong case for why you deserve their help.
The creditor isn’t obligated to remove the blemish, but then again, it’s more likely to work than doing nothing at all. So why not take a chance?
If a goodwill letter doesn’t pan out, don’t sweat it. Missed payments won’t stay on your credit report forever, and a couple bumpy spots in your history aren’t the end of the world.