When I was in college and just after I graduated, I made some very stupid choices when it came to money. I shopped constantly and took vacations I couldn’t afford and let’s not forget my love affair with Mr. Louis Vuitton. To say that I lived above my means is an understatement. And that led me to do some really, really stupid things…like taking cash advances off my credit card in order to have enough money to make the minimum payments on that card. It was really bad.
As a result of all this stupidity, my credit history suffered and my credit score was extremely low. I decided that I wanted to leave my job and go to a smaller company, but I knew that everyone there would know my credit history (they pulled a report as part of the application process) and I was embarrassed. It was then that I finally decided to clean up my financial act and I got to work improving my credit.
That was about 12 years ago. It took years for things to really improve and now I’m very happy to say that my credit is in really good shape. I’m vigilant about maintaining my new…high…credit score and I subscribe to a credit monitoring service so I can know what’s going on with my credit report at all times. If I so much as change my phone number on one account, the monitoring service sends me an email. I know everything…and it’s all good.
Or so I thought.
The other day, I was on the phone with Discover regarding some suspicious charges on my account. While I was chatting with the most helpful and energetic representative, he mentioned that my interest rate seemed a little high and he was going to see if he could get me approved for a lower rate. Fantastic! I held on for a minute and when he came back he said that he wasn’t able to lower the rate…something funny was showing up on my credit history. I told him that was impossible…there was nothing “funny” on my history. He pulled up a full report and said that he saw a collection account on my history and he gave me all the details.
I was shocked…and appalled. First…because I knew what bill he was talking about. It was a very expensive bill that I wasn’t happy about having to pay…but that I paid, in full and on time…in 2004! And second…because I look at my credit report all the time and I never saw a collection account appear on my report…ever! He told me he was using a TransUnion report and gave me all the necessary information. I thanked him and started my investigation immediately.
I pulled up my credit report through my monitoring services first. As I thought…the collection account was not listed. But there are three credit agencies and my monitoring service only shows me Experian data. So I ordered a three agency report…and there was the account…listed under TransUnion only.
I called the company and spoke to the nicest representative who confirmed that my payment was, in fact, received…in 2004! The collection account was an error…a mix up…a misapplication of my payment. She fixed the error and sent me a letter explaining the situation. I had to send copies of the letter to each credit agency and they were going to take steps on their side to have the account removed as well. Once they receive my letter, TransUnion should remove the negative information from my report.
The moral of the story is this…make sure you are checking your credit report from all three reporting agencies. Because you could be getting screwed without ever knowing it. I’m just glad I found this out now…and now while I was trying to apply for a loan.