One mistake results in big credit score drop

The bigger the score, the harder the fall

By Jane McNamara

Let's Talk Credit
Let's Talk Credit columnist Jane E. McNamara
Jane E. McNamara is president and chief executive officer of GreenPath Debt Solutions, a nationwide, not-for-profit, providing financial literacy through consumer education and counseling for more than 50 years. For financial literacy tips and assistance visit GreenPath on Facebook or YouTube.
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Question for the expert

Dear Let's Talk Credit,
I had a  credit score of over 800. Then I didn't pay an annual fee for a credit card (like $21) for 74 days. I'd never received a statement, and when the card  issuer tried contacting me, the call never rang on my phone (which is forwarded  to my receptionist). It always went to voicemail. I would play the message, and either it was a hangup, or it was the card issuer telling me that they had  special offers for me. I finally called back and found out I was late (I'm  NEVER late! I pay my balances several times per month on my credit cards). I  paid right away and closed the card. Can I contact the credit bureaus and  explain my situation to see if they can remove it? My score is now 717. What  are the odds, and what tack should I take to increase my chances of having it  removed? Best regards. -- Anne

Answer for the expert

Dear Anne,
Unfortunately, the common saying, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” applies in your situation. The decrease in your credit score by 83 points is consistent with what FICO says will happen with a 30-day late payment.

The good news is that your 717 credit score is still high enough for you to be included in the top two tiers of FICO credit scores for determining loan rates. If you need to access credit before your score improves, you may pay slightly higher interest charges. However, as long as no additional negative items appear on your credit report, you should expect your credit score to rebound soon.

The credit bureaus will not remove accurate negative information. However, you could contact the card issuer and request that the late payment notice be removed. Because you closed the account, the issuer may not be receptive to your request, but it wouldn't hurt to ask. The fact that you did not receive the statement for your annual fee may work in your favor to have the item removed by the card issuer.

Because one late payment can cause such a drastic change in your credit score, it is critical to keep close track of all your credit obligations. You might consider tracking payment obligations using a smart phone app, or track your due dates on a legal pad and post the information on your refrigerator. Whatever works best for you. That way, late payments will be a thing of the past!

Let's keep talking!

See related: FICO reveals how common credit mistakes affect scores, How fast can you recover from FICO score damage

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Published: June 5, 2014

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