I first heard about “goodwill letters” a few months ago, and the idea intrigued me because I thought I might be able to use it to remove a nearly-7-year-old ding on my credit report. It turned out that the ding was actually OLDER than 7 years, and so had fallen off my report, but I still thought it was a cool idea. Basically, if you have a ding or two on your credit report that took place in the (relatively) distant past, writing what is known as a goodwill letter may be one way to attempt to have those dings removed from your credit report.
In this context, a goodwill letter is essentially a letter that you write to your creditor asking them to remove a negative item or account from your credit report out of the goodness of their heart. You explain that you know you made the mistake but have changed, and are now trying to improve your credit rating for x reason. Creditors must be truthful about what they report to credit agencies, but as far as I know they are not required to report everything about your credit history with them if they don’t want to. Of course, they’re also not required to remove a negative item just because you ask, but I imagine that it can’t hurt to try. For a sample goodwill letter and some background information on the idea, visit this post on the Credit Talk Forum.