Monday, April 26, 2010

On the upside of debt

My husband Chris and I have lived a full life of debt related woes. When we first married umpteen years ago we were both teenagers and didn't really understand the ramifications of too much credit. I believe it was in the second year that we sought help from a local debt consolidation counselor. We paid them, they paid the companies and in a year we were free and clear. Although more educated on the subject it didn't deter us from incurring new cards and getting back into old habits. In Late 2009 (many many years later) we no longer had to worry about new debt.. we had enough old debt to keep us busy! We set out on a plan to pay off every single negative item on our credit reports. Sounds simple enough but it had to be one of the most stressful discussions to date.

Here was the plan:
  • Get a free copy of our credit report from Annual Credit Report (not a trial or paid service. It is FREE!)
  • Check over the report for errors. *it isn't uncommon to find one or more things wrong on your report. It is important to keep the information accurate. When it isn't be sure to dispute the information with the reporting agency so it can be fixed.
  • List debt in order of amount owed .. we put the highest amount first. If you are thinking of paying over time start with the small amounts first and get them out of the way.
  • Contact creditors to determine a plan of action. Our plan was to save money in the long run so we asked for settlements of the full amount (If you are trying to repair credit keep in mind that a settlement will be listed as 'paid for less then full amount' )
  • How are we going to pay for this? Our first thought was Tax Refund! We know when its going to arrive and it won't impede on our monthly budget. This worked for us as the plan took place in late Nov and tax time was right around the corner.
Now it was time to put the list to good use. On the 30 of January I paid off our first of many old debts... by the end of Feb only 1 remained. The remaining item was a bit of a problem. When we first pulled our credit reports there was an item that I didn't recognize as ours. So I put #2 into place and disputed the item with Equifax. After the 45 days investigation it came back 'verified' that we did in fact own the debt. Still baffled I called the company using the information from the report. The first agent was nice and gave me a lot of information so I could do some research. The debt was an old cellular service in which they said we owed from 2005-2007. I got off the phone and pulled my own records. Sure enough I found proof that it couldn't possibly be mine. I called back and the second agent wasn't as nice... actually quite rude! I explained that I would like to have them investigate the debt because not only do I have proof that we never had a plan with the company but I have a paid in full receipt from the 'actual' cell company we used during their specific time line. After many rude comments she finally put in the investigation and I got off the phone. That was a week ago today.

I was so excited to see a letter in my mail box today. It was bitter sweet..:

This letter is to inform you that we have investigated your dispute to the referenced acount. Based on the information collected during the investigation this account has been closed.

-------- will take no further collection action. In addition, if this account has been subject to credit reporting, the credit reporting agencies will be directed to remove the account from your record. Please note it may take up to 60 days for the account to be removed. In the interim, you may use this letter as a notice of status.

We apologize for the inconvenience this situation may have caused.


So bitter bitter sweet.... my favorite part was the apology =) I wanted to share this with all of you because it was the end to a very stressful but needed step in our lives. Today was a great day. I never thought I would be this excited to be debt free but it is an uplifting feeling. Mind you we still have 'normal debt' (car, home, etc) but to be out from behind the credit card mistakes of our past is a huge accomplishment!

Feel free to share your stories!

1 comment:

Y Knot Shop said...

I did that even went to the point of disputing some "GOOD" things that were on my report. Mainly because my student loan was saying I had a house in another state and after much arguing I finally just told them to take the darn house then. lol that made them realize that it must not be my house. So I had that and a credit card taken off of my report that weren't mine but were good.