How to Use a Goodwill Letters in Credit Repair

Clean Up Your Credit Repair With Goodwill Letters

Woman writing a letter
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A big part of credit repair involves getting items removed from your credit report. The more negative items you can remove from your credit report, the easier it will be to raise your credit score. Unfortunately, removing negative items isn't always easy, especially when these negative items are accurately reported.

The credit report dispute process works when there are negative items on your credit report that shouldn’t be there.

For example, you can dispute accounts that aren’t yours or items that are past the credit reporting time limit. However, disputing accurately reported information is typically unsuccessful because the creditors verify this information and credit bureaus do not remove it from your credit report.

If you still owe a balance on a negative account, you may be able to negotiate having it removed from your credit report in exchange for paying the balance. This strategy is called "pay for delete."

When you've already paid the debt, you don't have payment to use as leverage for getting it removed from your credit report. Instead, you can use a goodwill letter to request removal of credit report entries that you’ve already paid.

What is a Goodwill Letter?

A goodwill letter is a letter you send to your creditors asking them to remove or stop reporting ​negative information from your ​credit report as a matter of goodwill.

Creditors aren’t obligated to remove accurate information from your credit report unless the information is inaccurate. However, if you have some isolated late payments in the midst of an otherwise good credit history, some creditors will be nice and remove (or stop reporting) the late payments.

Like all letters you send to creditors, your goodwill letter should be short and simple.

State which account you’d like to have updated, mention your positive payment history, briefly describe what caused you to miss those payments, and ask that your credit report be updated as a courtesy. Keep your tone pleasant and courteous and avoid accusing or blaming the creditor.

Send your goodwill letter to the creditor’s address listed on your credit report or a recent billing statement. Make sure you use the address for correspondence, not the address to which you'd mail a payment. Use certified mail so you can confirm that your letter made it. If there is no address on the credit report, or if you don’t receive a response in about 7 to 10 business days, look for another address on the creditor’s website.

Creditor Response

After receiving your goodwill letter, some creditors will update your credit report. Others will say they cannot legally remove information from your credit report. The myFICO forums include several successful goodwill letters. These letters typically request the creditors make a "goodwill adjustment" rather than outright asking for creditors to remove negative information. (Removing negative information is often in violation of creditors agreement with credit bureaus.)

Letter vs. Phone Call

You can also make a goodwill request by phone instead of sending a letter, but more often than not, the customer service representatives who answer the phone don’t have the authority to make these types of changes to your account. If you can get a phone call to someone higher-up in the company, you’re more likely (but not 100%) to get your request granted.