If you're late 30 days or more on a credit account, the creditor can report this information to the major credit bureaus, including Experian, Transunion and Equifax. But if you can prove that you did not make the payment after the 30-day cut-off, you can dispute the negative item with the reporting credit bureau.
Make a copy of the credit report showing the incorrect information. Circle the item that lists the late payment that you want to dispute.
Prepare your proof. To prove that you were not late on the payment, make a copy of a payment receipt, payment confirmation page listing the date and time, a bank statement or a similar document that clearly shows the date your payment was processed.
Make sure you count down the days before you place the dispute—your payment is considered 30 days late if it is processed 30 days or more after its due. So if the payment is due on the first and you make the payment on the 31st, that is 30 or more days.
Write a letter to the credit bureau explaining why this information is incorrect. Include the name of the creditor and information about the account. Type in your full name, address and Social Security number so that the bureau can look up your file. Explain that you've enclosed proof, and explain what the enclosures show (see Resources for an example of a dispute letter).
Send your dispute letter, a copy of the credit report, and a copy of the proof to the bureau's complaint department. The bureau usually has 30 days to make a decision in the matter, and the creditor has 30 days to respond. The bureau will either provide documentation from the creditor showing why the late payment information stands or remove the incorrect information from your report.
Make sure you ask each of your creditors for a schedule of when payments are processed and considered late (including the time of day cut-off) to assure that you're submitting or sending in your payment in plenty of time each month.