Money: On the practical side – getting something inaccurate off your credit report

Customer services
Customer services (Photo credit: gordon2208)

I hate the phone. But here’s the deal: if you want to get something on your credit report cleaned up, you’re going to have to spend some time on the phone. Email won’t cut it, and chat programs are not secure enough.

You’re going to have to make at least three phone calls per transaction. Also, customer service agents WILL hang up on you for the following reasons:

1)You sound mean/aggressive

2)The call just sounds too difficult.

I know from working for these services that customer service reps worldwide are employed on a churn and burn rate, and are sometimes deliberately undertrained. When I worked for the phone company sales line, they deliberately started dumping repair calls into our cue and telling us we had to resolve them. This, despite the training being “transfer them to repairs.” The repair department at the time disappeared with no warning – punching the “repairs” extension somehow led right back to the sales cue. In your personal life, raging frustration. In my professional life, to the tune of 40 – 70 angry phone calls per day? Disaster. It’s not the only place where I had that happen – I worked customer service before moving it offshore was a glimmer in anyone’s eye.

So, it took me three phone calls to get to the place that actually reported my credit information. Then, the first rep hung up on me. It wasn’t a bad connection, it was a “this sounds hard, so I’m going to cut you off while still talking,” maneuver. I’ve done it myself, but I generally saved it for the screamers. In this case, since I told her it was for an $8 charge off, she was likely expecting me to be a screamer and just cutting the line in anticipation.

The second call, I saved the “I have an $8 charge off here,” for AFTER the guy had my data. He confirmed that not only had I paid, the company might owe me $3. Since the company in question is shutting down in 2013, I’m not really expecting to see that money. He gave me his name and direct extension, requested a letter be printed for me – but wasn’t sure if it WOULD be printed for me. For whatever reason, banks don’t like admitting they’ve made errors, especially ones that screw up your life and credit report. Since this didn’t show up on my report when we applied for a car loan two years ago, and the charge off is ostensibly  from 2006, there is something fishy afoot here.

So what I learned about the process of correcting a credit report:

There is not a linear system of calls. Be nice, be clear, expect to have to dial a few more numbers.

You will have to persist. No one at a credit company likes dealing with charge-offs.

It’s up to you to get the data and send it to the credit reporting agencies – all three of them. The FTC does help with the communications, at least. Really, the entire FTC website merits study.

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