Credit report monitoring is something that has certainly exploded over the past few years. It seems like you can’t pop on the TV or radio, browse the Internet or even scroll through your phone without seeing an ad for some sort of credit monitoring service. The apps we use to help with our finances even push this as an add-on service. I never really was a big fan of the credit monitoring services, but they can certainly help you to see what is going on with your credit and give you a look at your credit report. When you are looking to make a big purchase, such as for a car or a house, it is important to know where you stand so that you can get the best deal. Sometimes, however, things that you discover on your credit report may surprise you.
My Credit Report Surprise
This happen to me when I went to purchase my first house. Cryssie and I were so excited to finally be starting the process of getting a place of our own. But today I am just focusing on one part of it, some shocking news the banker told me about my credit report.
Walking into the bank, I knew that I had pretty good credit. After all, I never made any kind of credit mistakes that I knew of. Although I had some revolving credit, I always paid my bills on time and threw some extra money toward my debts whenever I could. When we sat down with the banker and she was looking over my credit report, she pointed on that there was a delinquent account that was a few years old! I was shocked and had no idea what in the world she was talking about. “Yes, I see here that you have an unpaid debt from (company name) from 2004.”
What in the world is going on? I thought to myself that there had to be some mistake. I told her that I would look into it further to find out what happened and to get everything cleared up. Leaving the bank with a copy of this report, I was determined to find out what was going on. I called the number that was listed and was greeted by a representative at a collection agency. Turns out that this unpaid debt was from a CD club that I had ordered from in the past. (Ha ha, remember those? “Order 1 CD for $10.99 and get 9 free! Act now! Quantities limited!”)
As soon as I heard the name of the company, I knew who they were and I knew I did business with them before. But as far as I knew, I ordered and paid for everything that was part of the deal. I did my part and I certainly was not going to let this one go, especially for some measly CDs that have been dinging my credit for years. So, I politely asked the collector what specifically the unpaid amount was for. She told me that she did not have that information as it is not passed on to the collection agency when the debt is sold off.
Well, that was a dead end road, but I wasn’t going to stop there. After all, now I am very interested to hear what in the world I owe this money for. I am also certainly not going to pay for something without knowing why, no matter the amount.
I hang up the phone with the collector and decide that I am going to call the CD club company directly. After navigating the mind-numbing automated system and listening to the most amazing elevator music I have ever heard in my life (ok, maybe a little too much on the sarcasm there?), I finally get to a representative and explain the situation. I let them know that I saw this outstanding debt on my credit report and I will gladly pay for whatever I rightly owe. After all, I am certainly not trying to get away with anything. I am an honest person and I have no problem paying on what I owe, but I still need to know what it is I am paying for.
After a few minutes, she locates my file and sees that I have the outstanding balance. And what came next is what baffled me the most. Here is how it went down:
Me: “I think there must have been some mistake and I would like to know what I owe this money for.”
CD Club rep: “I do see here that this account is back from 2004. Although I am showing the balance of, I do not have an invoice of the items.”
Me: “Ok, so without an invoice, why is there a balance?”
CD Club rep: “There were some items that were ordered that we sent to you and the remaining payment was never submitted to us.”
Me: “Ok, again, what did I order?”
CD Club rep: “I’m sorry sir, but I don’t have that info.”
Me: (now getting a little mad) “Let me make sure I understand. You are showing that I owe you money, you sent the account to collections and now you can’t even tell me why I owe you and what your warehouse shipped to me to make that balance show on my account. Is this correct?”
Me: “I’ll you what, why don’t you mail me an invoice of whatever info you have and then we’ll go from there.”
Unsurprisingly, that invoice never showed up in my mailbox. Eventually the delinquent account fell off my credit report. This, however, taught me two good lessons. First, it is important to keep track of your credit. Since then, I regularly pull my credit reports in order to inspect them for errors. This way this kind of thing does not happen again and I can catch any mistakes sooner.
The second lesson I learned was that when something does not seem right or there is something about my finances/credit that I don’t understand, I need to make a point to gather more info and find out what is really going on. Sure, I had the option to just make a payment right over the phone to the collection agency to make this all go away (maybe!). But who knows what that may have turned into. If I did, would there be another mysterious bill 6 months later? I’ll never know, but I do wonder sometimes.
Although this was a great learning experience, I am glad that it is in the past. I am also glad that I had the curiosity to push on this more to get additional info. Have you ever had any errors on your credit report? Did you get a resolution? What do you do differently since having that kind of experience?