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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 37822
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I have a specific issue relating to my credit report I'm

Customer Question

I have a specific issue relating to my credit report I'm trying to resolve. My home mortgage has one 30 day late showing on my credit report. It's one blemish on my ten year history with them. I want to buy a new home sometime next year and want this removed. The situation is as follows:
My mortgage company, Suntrust, sent me a letter stating that they were adjusting my mortgage payment by about $80 (on a $2500 payment). Its a long story, but I did not see this letter for a about two months. I had my mortgage on automatic pay and my payment was now $80 short. They ended up taking my standard monthly payment and instead of using it to pay the mortgage, they made it as a payment towards the principal only. Suntrust didn't contact me further to let me know there was an issue but I eventually figured it out. I called them and had them re-configure my payments back to a mortgage payment and then I paid them the additional $80 and reset my monthly payment to cover the new figure on-going. I thought this resolved, and went about my business.
Unfortunately, Suntrust dings my credit for this whole issue, showing a 30 day late missed payment. There's no distinction that I'm short just $80 accidently, it looks like I missed the whole payment. I've gone through Suntrusts Credit Dispute process twice now, they keep rejecting my request to have this removed. They keep telling me that I made a "principal only" payment so I was late the entire sum. I wish they had not taken the money I sent them, the short payment, as that would have clued me into the problem immediately.
I have disputed this with Transunion, it came back that Suntrust disagrees with me, not a real surprise. I am disappointed with the credit dispute process via TransUnion, I was only able to check a box stating "error in reporting", I was not able to explain any detail at all.
Ive told suntrust repeatedly that if they want to ding me for $80 short that's fine with me, but to show the whole payment as late I wont accept. I'm about to write a formal letter to suntrust, disputing again, but I feel I'm spinning my wheels here. I need an approach to handling this that will actually work, please advise.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 5 months ago.


I've been dealing with credit report issues for decades. As a general rule, unless a borrower can demonstrate that the creditor has violated the law, or that the account was actually paid according to the contract, there is no relief from a negative credit report entry.

That said, I have had some success with literally negotiating the negative entry off of a credit report. A creditor has the power to delete a previous entry on grounds that it is a "clerical error." This raises no issue with the credit reporting agency (CRA), because it is an admission that the original entry was erroneous, but for a harmless reason.

The problem that I have encountered is usually due to being unable to reach an employee of the creditor who has the authority to negotiate. That is, there are employees who deal with accounting, with negotiating foreclosure issues and bankruptcy -- but, there is almost never anyone with a job description that includes the adjustment of a credit reporting error -- because, as a general rule, credit reporting information is automatically transferred to the CRAs.

Credit card issuers routinely adjust credit report entries. Some issuers even use a one-time adjustment for late payment as an card holder benefit for marketing purposes. But, loan servicers don't do this sort of thing, because there's no market benefit.

What this means is that you need to find someone in authority with whom you can "make a deal" And, by "deal," I mean, "offer to pay them for the cost of having an employee remove the account entry. There absolutely is someone at the loan servicer who can delete the entry, and there is also a manager somewhere who can negotiate a deal with you. But, finding that person can be near to impossible. You just have to keep trying.

One option is to write a letter to the CEO of the organization. The letter will inevitably be read by the CEO's administrative assistance, and if he or she thinks your sufficiently "needy," there is a good chance (in my experience), that the assistant will mention the issue to the CEO, who may say something like, "I don't really have time for this sort of thing, but if you think the borrower should get a break, then call [middle manager name] and have them fix the credit report.

It's a power thing, and it makes the CEO feel more in touch with the "little people." And, it gives the assistant some power, which makes him/her feel special (without giving them a raise).

The bot***** *****ne is that there is no "legal" means to enforce the issue, because as a matter of law, your payment was late, or insufficient. So, you have to do what lawyers do when the law isn't on their side: try to negotiate a deal/settlement -- because that's all you can do.

Note: If there were a legal means of adjusting your credit report, I would tell you, because I've knocked dozens of these types of issues off of credit reports in the past. But, your facts just don't provide an legal leverage -- so, negotiation (or, pleading with the gods) is the only available route.

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) -- otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!

Expert:  socrateaser replied 4 months ago.

Hello again,

I see that you have reviewed my answer, but that you have not provided a rating. Do you need any further clarification concerning my answer, or is everything satisfactory?

If you need further clarification, concerning this matter, please feel free to ask. If not, I would greatly appreciate a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) – otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.
Thanks again for using Justanswer!

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