A big part of credit repair involves getting items removed from your credit report. The credit report dispute process works, for example, when you dispute accounts that aren’t yours or items that have exceeded the credit reporting time limit. But this is a challenging process that often proves unsuccessful.
If you owe a balance on a negative account, you might be able to have it removed in exchange for paying the balance, or "pay for delete," but if you've already paid the debt then you don't have that to use as leverage—instead, you can use 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, but some may consider doing so.
A goodwill letter should be short and simple. State which account you’d like to update, mention your positive payment history, briefly describe what caused you to miss 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 or email, as listed on your credit report or a recent billing statement. If there is no address on the credit report, or if you don’t receive a reply in about seven to 10 business days, look for another address on the creditor’s website.
After receiving your goodwill letter, some creditors will update your credit report. Others may say they cannot legally remove information from your credit report.
There is another type of goodwill letter that typically asks creditors to make a "goodwill adjustment", rather than outright asking for creditors to remove negative information, which is often in violation of creditor agreements with credit bureaus. However, financial institutions, such as Bank of America, have an explicit policy that they will not make any "goodwill adjustments," even for one late payment.
Letter vs. Phone Call
You can also make a goodwill request by phone, but the customer service representatives who answer usually do not have the authority to make such changes to your account.
If you can reach someone higher up in the company, you’re more likely to have success.