Credit Sesame with four credit management letters that may help you on your mission to build great credit.
If you’re trying to build or protect a good credit rating, credit report blemishes won’t help. What may help is a well-written letter. These four letters can help you discover if a debt is your responsibility, help you remove incorrect credit entries or even delete accurate (but damaging) information.
- Debt validation letter. When you receive a demand for payment from a debt collector, you’re entitled to proof that you owe the money, including the creditor’s name and the date you incurred the debt or last made a payment.
- Credit dispute letter. If you believe an entry on your credit report is inaccurate or unfair, you can dispute it in writing with all three major credit bureaus.
- Goodwill letter. If you have a solid history with a creditor but miss a payment (more than 30 days past the due date), you might be able to convince it to report your payment as on time.
- Pay-for-delete letter. You may be able to arrange for a debt collector to delete a collection account by paying some or all of what you owe.
There is no guarantee that a well-written letter will solve your credit woes, but active credit management is more than paying bills on time and keeping credit utilization low. Sometimes you have to address past actions that impacted your credit. You can add these letters to you personal credit management tool kit.
What is a debt validation letter?
The debt validation letter is a written request for information. You might send a debt validation letter if a debt collector has contacted you and you’re not sure if you owe the money or you haven’t yet decided what to do about it.
Debt validation letters are powerful because once you send one, a collection agency has to stop trying to collect until it double-checks the debt information and mails you written verification, including the original creditor’s name and address.
You have 30 days to dispute a debt after the initial contact by a debt collector. During that 30-day period, collectors can try to collect the debt from you until they get your validation request.
Debt validation letter sample
You can adapt this sample debt validation letter to your circumstance. Do not admit owing the debt or offer any form of payment until the collector validates the debt and you’ve decided what to do: pay it, negotiate it, fight it or ignore it.
Debt Collector Name
Debt Collector Address
Re: Account Number (if you have it)
Dear Debt Collector Name:
I am responding to your contact about a debt you are trying to collect. You contacted me by (phone/mail) on (date) and identified the debt as (any information they gave you about the debt). Please supply the information below so that I can be fully informed:
Why you think I owe the debt and to whom I owe it, including:
- The name and address of the creditor to whom the debt is currently owed, the account number used by that creditor, and the amount owed.
- If this debt started with a different creditor, provide the name and address of the original creditor, the account number used by that creditor, and the amount owed to that creditor at the time it was transferred.
- Document that there is a valid basis for claiming that I am required to pay the debt to the current creditor. For example, a copy of the written agreement that created my original requirement to pay.
The amount and age of the debt, including:
- A copy of the last billing statement sent to me by the original creditor.
- The amount of the debt when you obtained it, and when that was.
- Itemize any additional interest, adjustments, fees or charges added since the last billing statement from the original creditor. In addition, explain how the added interest, fees or other charges are expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or are permitted by law.
- When the creditor claims this debt became due and when it became delinquent.
- Identify the date of the last payment made on this account.
Details about your authority to collect this debt.
- Provide the name on your debt collection license, the date of that license, the state issuing that license, the issuing agency (name, address and phone number) and the license number.
I have asked for this information because I have some questions about your claim that I owe this money. I am open to communicating with you for this purpose. In the meantime, please treat this debt as being in dispute and under discussion between us.
In addition to providing the information requested above, please let me know if you are prepared to accept less than the balance you are claiming is owed. If so, please tell me in writing your offer with the amount you will accept to fully resolve the account.
Thank you for your cooperation. Sincerely,
What is a dispute letter?
It’s not uncommon for credit reports to contain inaccurate information, and that can hurt your credit score. The easiest way to dispute a credit report error is probably to use the online dispute form for Equifax, TransUnion or Experian.
However, sometimes you might prefer to go directly to the creditor reporting the entry. It can be easier to have only one entity to contact, one set of documentation to provide and one letter to write. In addition, it’s not uncommon for credit bureaus to correct an entry only to have the creditor reinsert the error in the next reporting cycle. Fixing the problem at the source makes sense.
Credit dispute letter sample
Here is a sample credit dispute letter you can use to address an error with your creditor.
Your return address
Company address for receipt of direct disputes
Re: Disputing errors on credit report
Dear Company Name
I am writing to request a correction of the following information that appears on my Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion consumer report:
- Account Number or other information to identify account:
Insert account number or other information such as account holder names and past addresses. This is important if you have had multiple accounts with the same company.
- Dates associated with item being disputed:
Insert the date that appears on your report. This helps ensure that the company identifies the correct account and indicates what you’re disputing. You can still file a dispute if you don’t have this date.
- Explanation of item being disputed:
Insert a detailed explanation of why the information is inaccurate. Here are some examples of problems a consumer might want to correct. Pick one, if it applies, or explain the problem in your words.
- The report shows I currently owe money to your company that I have already repaid. (Give details about when you paid, and attach a copy of any proof that you have).
- The date of the first delinquency on my report is not accurate.( Give details about delinquency status, including payment history.)
- My student loan shows a period of delinquency when I was actually in an income-driven repayment plan. (Provide documentation, including copies of your billing statements.)
- I’m the victim of identity theft and I don’t recognize one or more of the accounts on my report. (You may wish to include a copy of the FTC identity theft affidavit describing the identity theft.)
- Other (Describe what is wrong with the report. You may include copies of any additional supporting documentation that you have.)
I have attached a copy of my report with the accounts in question circled.
Thank you for your assistance.
What is a goodwill letter?
If you have excellent credit, one late payment can seriously harm your credit score. However, a well-written goodwill letter might get you off the hook and reverse that damage. A goodwill letter is one that you write to a creditor when you have messed up.
There are five elements in a goodwill letter:
- Remind your creditor of what a good customer you are — how long you’ve had your account and that you have an excellent track record with your payments.
- Explain why your payment was delayed that month.
- Apologize for paying late.
- Nicely ask them to please report your payment as on time.
- Promise to never pay late again.
Remember that the employee reading your letter is busy and has heard it all. So keep it short and respectful, avoid long, drawn-out excuses and admit your mistakes. Don’t just copy and paste this one — make it personal, and use the proper title (and if you know it, the name) of the person who will read it.
There is a lot at stake, so make an effort.
Goodwill letter sample
Re: Account number: XXXXXXXXX
Dear Creditor representative (title or name),
Thank you for taking time to read this letter. I’ve enjoyed my relationship with Creditor name since Year account was opened.
I’m writing because I noticed your company reported a late payment in Date of late payment on my credit reports. I am requesting a goodwill adjustment to remove this late payment from my TransUnion, Experian and Equifax credit reports.
After reviewing my records, I realize that I did indeed miss the payment deadline. Unfortunately, (Explain why you missed the payment.) I take full responsibility for the mistake. I apologize and have made sure it won’t happen again. As you can see from my payment history, I’ve made every payment on time both before and after the late payment.
If you could make this goodwill adjustment, I believe it will significantly help me protect my credit score and save me unnecessary costs in the future.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
What is a pay-for-delete letter?
A pay-for-delete letter can be a solution if one of your debts goes into collection. It’s a written request to remove a collection account from your credit report in exchange for partial or full payment of the debt.
Most experts recommend that you don’t admit to owing the money. That’s in case your letter doesn’t work and you have to negotiate a different solution or defend yourself in court. Acknowledging that you owe a debt also resets the clock on the statutes of limitations for debt. That means if your debt is so old that it’s uncollectible, or close to being uncollectible, admitting that you owe it makes it brand new again.
Pay-for-delete letter sample
- Your name
- Your address
- Collection agency’s name
- Collection agency address
Account Number: XXXXXXXXXXX
Original Creditor: creditor name
Amount as Listed on Credit Report: $XXXX.XX
Dear Creditor Name,
The purpose of this letter is to offer your credit department a one-time opportunity to settle the alleged amount owed. I do not acknowledge any liability for this debt in any form and I retain my right to request a full and complete debt validation from your company.
I am willing to pay $XXX.XX of this account if you agree to the following:
- Your company will delete all references to this account from my credit profile at the three major credit reporting agencies.
- Your company will accept this payment to satisfy the debt in full.
- You will make no mention of this agreement to outside third parties.
If the above-mentioned items are met, I am willing to make payment on this debt.
I require your written agreement to these terms on company letterhead and signed by a representative who is authorized to enter into such agreements.
I look forward to your response.
You can contact me through any of the following methods.
Your E-Mail Address
Your Phone Number
Do pay-for-delete letters work?
Pay-for-delete letters don’t always work because collection agencies sign agreements with credit bureaus saying that they won’t remove collection accounts simply because they have been paid. So many have a policy of not agreeing to pay-for-delete schemes. But others do because they want to get paid.
That said, you may not need a pay-for-delete letter to wipe away the effect of a collection on your credit score. The latest credit scoring models, FICO 9 and 10 and VantageScore 3.0, do not take paid collection accounts into consideration when determining your credit score. However, you might want to use a letter if you plan to offer less than the full balance owed.
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Disclaimer: The article and information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.