Credit Report…Repair

Credit! We hear this term often. We may have credit. But what is it and what does it mean for us?

Here’s your crash course:

Let’s start with the basics. We are going to keep this very “gump” or simple. Credit shows your worthiness for a lender to loan you money or a line of credit. Your FICO credit score basically defines you. The FICO credit score ranges from 300-850 and where you fall in there is based on your use of credit and making payments.

Now that we have an idea of what it is, let’s quickly chat about who needs it. That is an easy one. Everyone! If at any point in your life you plan on purchasing a home, buying a car, or in some cases even getting a job, you need to have credit. And not just credit, but good credit. I doubt that many of you will have $150,000 laying around for a cash purchase of a house, so you will have to finance your new house like the rest of us.

Credit is built and maintained by opening revolving credit (like credit cards which revolves from paying your balance down and adding to it) or installment debt (a car or house loan which you are making installment payments for a set period of time) and making those monthly payments on time. I am going to give a little more detail about this below.

Here is a hard truth. Life fucking happens. Sometimes shit out of our control can happen, or sometimes we just make poor financial decisions and really fuck ourselves. When this happens. this can lead to damaging our credit and impacting us for a long time.

When I was in my early 20’s, I had opened up some small little credit cards for people with little to no credit. I also had a house phone in my name from when I was around 18-19.  I had a DirecTV account as well as some other internet provider that I can’t even remember. My now ex and I joined Ballys so that joint membership was on my credit. I made the payments for quite sometime and was working on establishing my credit. My credit was just decent enough to allow me to lease apartments, but not strong enough to buy a car. I tried to get a loan from my credit union and they soundly shut me down because I did not have any credit.

In that young age, I do not think I truly grasped what credit was despite all of my research. I idiotically decided that I was over those credit cards and other responsibilities and just stopped paying them. I was pissed at Ballys for not altering the lease. My ex was using the gym that I was paying for. So I stopped paying them too. For quite some time I had those companies hounding me. After a while, the original creditor sold their debt to collections companies for pennies on the dollar. Then those companies would start calling me. This went on for about 7-8 years.

My credit was crap at that point. My mother had to buy a car in her name for me since I couldn’t qualify. I couldn’t open any credit cards or anything. I had gotten used to that life though. I just lived in my apartment, paid the bills I had while ignoring the old ones, and chilling. When I got a job at the bank working with defaulted clients, I had to send them a letter of explanation because my credit was trashed.

It was while apartment living and being in the mortgage business for a few years at that point that something changed. I was 31 and thought “I really want to be a house.” I knew then that if I had tried to take a loan for a house, I would get laughed right out of the lender’s office. I had a good understand of credit by this point, but I really deep dived and studied it hard to create an action plan.

I am going to share this action plan with you in 10 steps in case you have found yourself in that same situation I described above.

Here is the 10 step action plan:

Step 1: Admit and identify that you did make a few mistakes and forgive yourself. None of this is permanent! Taking on past due debt is fucking tough and feels like a swift kick to your balls. That is how I felt anyway.

Step 2: Go to annualcreditreport.com and obtain all three credit reports from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. You can only get these credit reports for free once a year (hence the name annualcreditreport, ha!).

Step 3. Create an account on CreditKarma.com and download the app to your smartphone if you have one. You can now track your own credit for free. Credit Karma updates your TransUnion and Equifax credit scores every few days. Experian is kind of a dick and charges a hefty monthly fee to track your credit. Reviewing your own credit is a “soft inquiry” and does not impact your credit.

Step 4. Review your credit report history and identify all of the accounts in collections. Make note of the collection company’s name, phone number, time the delinquency has been reporting, and balance owed. If you have received mail from the collection companies, hang on to those.

Step 5. Create an Excel spreadsheet (or on Word or paper if you do not like Excel) to organize your debts. Here is a version of the Excel spreadsheet I had created for myself: Credit Repair Spreadsheet.

Step 6. Call those creditors and verify the balance amount. Sometimes a collection company is willing to accept a lower amount to satisfy the debt. I did this with a couple of the credit cards. Some people will say that is bad for your credit, but it didn’t do anything negative to mine.

Step 7. When on the phone with the collection company, see if they take payment plans. Do this will all of them! Take notes of who you are speaking to and their contact information. Note the date and time as well.

Step 8. List all of this information into your spreadsheet. Review your finances and see what you are able to afford. I actually got a second job to help me with this.

Step 9. Start with the lowest amount and work your way to the highest. I made payment plans for the higher amounts and paid off the lower amounts as soon as I could. Depending on your debt amount, this could be tough, but not impossible. Anything that has been reporting for almost 7 years should be tracked, don’t sweat paying that. Once an item on your credit has hit 7 years, it will fall off.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you get a paid in full letter from the collection company upon satisfying the debt and save it!

Step 10. Once you have paid off everything, pat yourself on the back and be very patient. It will take some time, but you will see your credit start to increase once everything shows paid in full.

Keeping your credit in good standing after repairing it is vital! Here are a few post-repair tips and a graph to help you out:

Make your monthly payments on time (every time)! Late payments on your credit card or loan can cause late fees. You do not want those! Because I am real and know that shit happens, here is a little tidbit. Just in case you are ever in a bind, you can technically make your payment up to 30 days past the due date and not be reported to the credit bureaus (but you will still get a late fee). Credit bureau reporting occurs on the 31st day of delinquency.

Keep your credit card balances down to 30% of your limit. For example, if you have credit card that has a limit of $1,000, your balance from month to month should never be higher than $300. To figure out your max balance, use this formula:

Credit Card Limit X .30 = The max balance you can have

Also, limit how many times you apply for credit. The temptation will be way too real once you start getting approved. Anytime a third party like a lender looks at your credit, that is considered a “hard inquiry” and a bunch of those will ding your credit. If you are starting over like I did, just stick with two bank credit cards. Once you have established a good payment history and low balances for at least a year, then consider opening a new card. It’s a painfully long process, but the payoff is so worth it.

Tip: If you are shopping around for a home loan, you can have multiple credit inquires in a 14 day period and that will only count as one.

Things like paying rent or a cell phone bill do not count as credit and will not be reported on your credit. They only get reported when they are 30+ days late.

Now that you have the steps you need to repair and maintain your credit, you won’t get as fucked in interest when you take out a home or car loan or open a new credit card!

All of this worked out very well for me. It took me about a year but all my debt is paid off! I cleaned up my credit and was able to buy a home in 2014 and a car in 2015! I have several credit cards with high limits. My balances are higher than I would like, but I am a lot better off than I was 4+ years ago!

If you have any questions or comments about credit, please feel free to comment below!

Identity Theft Victim

I like to monitor my credit so I use both Quizzle and CreditKarma. I decided to check it today and saw that I have a new negative account that went into collections from Comcast for $692. I no longer have an account with Comcast and when I closed my account in 2014 everything was all set.

So I called Comcast and they verified that both my old address and my current address accounts were squared away and at a 0 balance. The woman on the phone gave me the number to the collection agency with that suspicious account and told me to call back with that information from the collection agency.

I called them and spoke to a woman there who verified my information. She then asked me if I ever lived at this address in Detroit that I had never heard of. I told her no and gave her the last 4 cities I lived in in the past decade. She gave me the Comcast account number so I could call Comcast back.

It was during that conversation that I learned that someone had stolen my identity and opened up a Comcast account in Detroit in March. They never made a single payment so it was disconnected and the account was sent to collections.

I called Comcast back who is now investigating this and disputing it to the credit bureau. I was told they were using all of my information and I have to fax over proof that I have never lived at that address. Comcast has a bad rep for awful customer service. For me, this is a golden opportunity for Comcast to prove they do care about their customers, current or prior.

Two questions come to mind as I write this:

  1. Why wasn’t Comcast able to pull up that account if they were using my social security number to find any accounts tied to me when we used it earlier?
  2. Why did my credit never show that the fraudulent account was delinquent after the first 30 days?

I am so livid right now! Who do these people think they are taking my identity? I loathe people who think it is okay to steal from other people who have worked hard. I have been so focused on building a good life and future for myself. Maybe those losers should do the same thing instead of stealing from others.

I am grateful to Credit Karma for updating so regularly and I was able to catch that now. I think I am going to look into LifeLock.com since these scumbags have my identity information and who knows who they gave/sold it to.

Always monitor your credit my friends.

My Complaint to the BBB about Comcast

On July 31, 2014 I closed on my house. I called Comcast to ask them to transfer my service from my old apartment to my new house on August 28, 2014. According to their advertisement on their site, this was supposed to be an easy thing to do.

When I got home to my apartment that day, my internet was turned off. I called Comcast to ask what happened. They had transferred my service that day. I told the person on the phone that it was supposed to transfer on August 28, not today. I was then informed that the system does not allow them to set the date in advance (which is the opposite of the advertisement) and that I should call when I am ready for it to be transferred over. After a long process, someone on their technology team reversed the mess done on my service. I also learned that service is not technically transferred. Your account is canceled at the old place and a new account is created at the new place.

I waited until September 5th to have the service transferred to my new house since my apartment lease ended at that time. I spoke to the Comcast employee about moving and they told me that I could use the hardware I currently had at the new house.

A short while after that I checked my old account online to verify everything was OK. I then discovered that I had been charged $210 for not returning the equipment!

I called Comcast again to discuss this huge mistake. I spoke to a woman on the phone and explained the entire situation (as stated above) to her. There were also some other strange charges on my current account at the new house. Comcast was charging me a prorated amount from August 28, 2014, the date I originally had planned to start service. After some discussion the woman finally reversed the charges from August 28 to September 5 since September 5 is when my service actually started.

The Comcast representative put in a ticket to have the charges reversed off of my account which would have zeroed out my last balance. She told me it would only take a few days. This all happened at the end of September when I received that bill.

On October 21, 2014 (almost a month later) I went online to check both my balances to make sure everything was set. I was surprised to discover that the old balance was not only active, but now considered late! While looking at both the old and new account, I accidentally paid the old balance of $171 instead of the new balance of $166.

On October 22, 2014, I called Comcast yet again and explained the entire situation again to Joe from Florida as well as asked him to apply the funds I sent to the new account instead of the old account. I cannot believe that accounts are not notated and customers are forced to explain situations over and over again.

In that phone conversation Joe told me that this situation happens all of the time. Customers always get hit with a charge for not returning equipment that they planned to use in the new location. Joe reviewed the ticket to have the charges removed from old account and told me that it was open but nothing came of it because they did not have my new account number to prove the equipment was being used. It just sat there for almost a month without anyone contacting me or doing anything to get the new account number!

Joe also told me that it was common for customers to accidentally pay their old account but that it was easy to reverse those funds and apply them to the new account.

During this time I was waiting for the funds to be applied my current account was considered late. I just had to make another payment of $45 to the new account, but the funds should’ve already been applied to it! They would’ve owed me $5. Now they owe me $50.

Ideally I would like to see Comcast completely dismantled. Realistically, I just want my bill to be corrected. My new account needs to be credited the $171 I paid toward my old account (which should have been zeroed out already) as well as the $45 I just paid applied to my new account as well.

Comcast is killing the phrase “customer service.” They try to hide behind the new name of Xfinity, but at the end of the day, you just can’t shine shit.

UPDATE 10/28/2014:

I looked at my accounts again to see if any changes had been made. Nothing had been changed. So I had to call Comcast yet again.

I ended up speaking to Tiffany. As is always the case, I had to retell my story again because they apparently can’t take notes over there. After explaining to her the entire situation from start to finish, including my conversation with Joe, she started looking at my account. Apparently Joe from Florida had opened the wrong ticket for the wrong account and yet again my situation just sat in limbo once more. Tiffany also confirmed that Comcast had indeed not done a service transfer, but mistakenly just opened a new service and ended the old service. So my new account is not reflecting that I have the same hardware from the old account.

Tiffany then told me that all we would have to do is transfer me over to the Internet Department who could just “copy and paste” my information from my old account to my new account. OK whatever.

I asked about when the funds I paid on the wrong account and when they would be applied to my new account. As is always the case with Comcast, I was told yet again that the previous agent had misinformed me. They cannot apply the funds to my new account because it was a different account. Instead, I have to wait 4-6 weeks to get a refund check. So now I have to pay $121 for my new bill…which is weird because my bill is only $75 a month.. so that is a whole other conversation I still need to have. I laid into Tiffany about the shitty false advertising regarding the Comcast ad on their site and it being “easy to move.”

Anyway, Miss Tiffany cold transferred me to a guy named Riel. For some reason Comcast is not big on warm transfers. I had to repeat my story again. I was fucking pissed off at this point. So I told Riel my story and how I got to that point. I had to tell him that Tiffany had transferred me to have him copy and paste my hardware data information from my old account to my new account.

This is where it gets good. He told me that they do not have my old hardware information on file! I lost it at that point. I laid into him about how in the world do they not track the hardware information of equipment that I am renting?? How is that not on my account?? I then talked to him about the other modem I had received. The new modem is the one on my current account, even though the new hardware was working just fine. He then said I need to be home with the new modem in order for him to activate it. I went off on him again. That idiot kept reciting his call script and apologizing for the inconvenience. I lost my mind at that point. I went off on him again about this is not just an inconvenience, this is the most horrible fucking experience that I have been through with them and they keep disrupting my life.

I went on again about the billing and Riel said he had to transfer me to Billing. I told him do not cold transfer me. I am not telling this same damn story several times! He said he wouldn’t and put me on hold. So I waited and waited and waited. At one point someone took me off hold then put me right back on hold (probably because the phone was going to disconnect me for being on hold for so long).

Then all of the sudden I heard the automated prompts. I think my call got rerouted to the main menu. I was LIVID and screamed FUCK YOU!! Then the phone call just straight disconnected on me. I think Riel and whoever he was transferring me to just didn’t want to deal with me.

Someone from Comcast’s PR just reached out to me because they received my BBB complaint. Wait until she sees the updated blog!

Christmas Commercialism

It’s that time of year again! Christmas music is all over the radio, retail stores are putting up their Christmas decorations, and everyone is building out their wish lists and shopping lists. Christmas is upon us.

It is also that time of year where everyone forgets the meaning of Christmas (which is shifty in itself, but that is for another blog post) and loses their souls to commercialism. Retailers bank hard this time of year because customers are stupid. We drive ourselves crazy and broke trying to buy people amazing gifts and hoping for a good return on our investment.

Why? Why does Christmas have to be about that? Why can’t we just celebrate good will toward our fellow man and peace on earth?

I think that there should be some gift giving. To the kids. Kids deserve to feel that excitement of Christmas morning. We as adults don’t need to break our bank buying each other gifts. That excitement is gone for us. We are aware of the money we spent and what the gift giver spent on us. So why even go through that? Let the kids enjoy Christmas. It’s really for them anyway.

I actually have a proposition or a wish for Christmas. Instead of buying gifts for everyone, we should fight back against retailers and not buy gifts! Rather, we can use some of that money to go to people who really need it. Families that are homeless or children that are cold and hungry because they are poor. Doing that would really capture the true meaning of Christmas. As for the religious aspect of Christmas, the ones who believe that Jesus was born that day, could really do as they believe Jesus wanted and show love to those who need it.

Either way, this might also help restore our humanity.

Facebook status: Did some profound thinking today. Despite how Christmas was started, the spirit of Christmas is about good will toward man and peace on Earth. We have certainly strayed from that. I think we have become commercial monsters who believe the spirit of Christmas is gift giving. I propose that we start a revolution. We don’t need to go on a gift buying frenzy to show we care about someone. I do believe that children deserve to enjoy the magic of Christmas though. They should receive gifts. But as adults, let’s cut the bullshit out. It will make a lot more room for love and real good will. For those who believe in Jesus, was that not what he was about? If you really want to buy gifts, you should, for families who need it. A warm coat to a poor child means a lot more than a PS4 would to a privileged kid. So whether you believe in a secular or religious Christmas, the message is always the same. Love. Let’s get back to that. -Valdet Selimaj