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Credit Mistakes are Not Easily Erased

Aug 18, 2007
You hear quite a bit these days about credit repair. While most of us are in need of it, repairing damaged credit can be a daunting task. Not many people have perfect credit scores. Unfortunately, the majority of the populace falls into the category of past due bills and overdrawn bank accounts. Debts become marks on our credit report. While they are not written in indelible ink they certainly are not easy to erase.

Balancing a tightrope is easier than balancing a checkbook for some of us. If we don't record our financial transactions right away, it is easy to forget to do so later. Often a small error in calculation can be overlooked only to later resurface as a larger problem. Once such oversight happened to me and although I corrected the error and paid the amount in question, I still could not get the incident removed from Chex Systems for over two years. Even after being assured that it would be cleared up, I found that it had not.

I used to work as a representative for a credit card company and after speaking with numerous people who had suffered financial setbacks, bankruptcy or negative reports to credit agencies, the one common element in their stories was the fact that 'black marks' continued to remain on their credit reports long after debts had been paid. The remaining negative information made it difficult if not impossible for them to open accounts or make major purchases. Some of those stories were particularly moving, considering the ordeals the people involved had gone through in dealing with banks, credit bureaus and credit card companies. It can be a very time consuming process. Most of these people were left feeling that they were still being punished for a mistake they had already paid for long ago. Others felt there was no point in paying off their debts if the records were still going to remain on their credit reports.

Credit cards are a major source of debt. Although they can be a great convenience, cutting them up may be the best step a person can take toward freedom from the plastic jungle. Try to avoid credit cards at all cost if you are working toward managing debt. You may receive credit card offers that claim to help restore your credit by reporting to the major credit bureaus as long as you make your monthly payments on time. It sounds good but stop and think about it for a moment. These offers are usually being made to people who are already suffering from some degree of financial distress, even serious debt. They are going to welcome the opportunity to obtain a new credit card and get a second chance to get their credit back on track. Most often they will use the credit card because they need; this is where the path becomes rocky and the debt starts to pile up even faster.

One of the stipulations to receive the card begins with a fee, usually in the range of $30.00 to $40.00. There is an annual fee that may average $75.00 to $100.00. As if that isn't enough, there is a processing fee and depending on the issuing company or bank, there may be other fees associated with the card as well. The annual percentage rate may be as high as 20% or more. Make sure you look over all of the material well, and read the fine print with a magnifying glass if you have to. The credit limit associated with such cards is usually between $200.00 to $500.00 and if the cardholder cannot the balance in full each month, he or she may find that the balance amount has nearly doubled in a short amount of time. Rather than finding themselves on the road to restoring their damaged credit, they may find themselves sinking deeper into the quicksand of debt. I learned the hard way, as many others have, that the best place for those offers is the trashcan.

If you want to free yourself from the oppression of credit card debt get out the scissors and cut the cards. But if you do so, be certain to notify the issuing bank or company that you are canceling the account. You should do this by phone and in writing. Many credit card issuers will not cancel the account unless you notify them in writing. Otherwise the balance may continue to rise and you will be considered liable to pay the bill if you do not send them a written notice. Make sure the information is dated. Anytime you contact the company, keep a copy of the information and any transactions for your own records. If you speak with the company by phone, ask for the name, employee identification number or any other pertinent information of the person you are speaking with. Write it down so that you have the information to reference if the need would arise in future dealing with the company. You may also ask if the phone conversations are recorded and how long they are kept, if no information is stated.

As for getting out of debt, use cash to pay bills and make purchases whenever you can. When shopping, a good rule to keep in mind is if you can't afford it, don't buy it. If you write a lot of checks, pay careful attention to balancing your checkbook. Be sure to compare your checkbook to your monthly statement and keep an eye out for any discrepancies. If you feel you are in need of credit counseling or a financial advisor, compare prices and services before making the commitment. After all, your goal is to get out of debt not to have more unnecessary bills to pay.
About the Author
Leo Chu writes consumer information articles for http://www.creditcardflyers.com. For more information on bad credit credit cards and to apply for credit cards online, visit http://www.creditcardflyers.com/bad-credit.php
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