In the course of applying for a home loan, the funnest part (oh pffftt, like you don’t know what I mean!) is the whole credit application. Particularly for someone like me, who’s worked her proverbial ass off for years and still has to bow, scrape and grovel for anything that remotely resembles credit.
Given the current national fiscal collapse, I was prepared for the finance officer to snort and flip me the bird for wasting his time.
What happened instead floored me. Of the four (yep, only four) negatives on my credit history, two were paid in full. One was the payment the kids made to clear up my car loan; the other was a small bill I’d paid in full almost immediately after I closed the account.
Of the remaining two, one was never mine to begin with. I’d written disputing it with the company years ago and supposedly it had been cleared. But nooooooo…
The fourth bill is all of $176. I’m, definitely not losing sleep over something I can retire with a single bonus check and have money left over.
I can document everything, though the kids suggested (particularly since two of the bills are being handled through the same collection agency) that I contact the collections folks briefly and let ’em come after me for the bills that are paid. That would pave the way for a nice fat lawsuit. It would make a nice down payment come this time next year.
Unfortunately I have a bit of a problem with that. Even if I find a lot of collection agencies deplorable in their actions, I don’t consider that justification to provoke them. On the other hand, I WILL be contacting them and asking them to remove the collections references from my credit report. And if they opt to threaten or otherwise give me grief over the bills that are paid in full, I’ll hand them their asses on a silver court-bound platter.
In all honesty I can understand the dilemma of the collections personnel. I once did that job and it’s a miserable way to make a living. It can a lucrative one for someone without a conscience, or someone so heavily medicated by antidepressants it doesn’t sink past the outermost layer of skin.
You become a walking time bomb, ready to either go off and take out everybody in your path, or you quietly implode and die of a heart attack or stroke in your thirties. I’ve seen both happen firsthand.
For every $10K suit settled against collection agencies, wanna bet how many get away with financial rape of people who didn’t owe money in the first place? And no, being a deadbeat isn’t required. All it takes is them accusing you of being a deadbeat. Who cares about a little thing like whether or not you actually owe the money? The almighty dollar is king, and if employees and a few non-debtors get trampled in the process, no big deal.
Ironically, the single biggest black mark on my credit history had nothing to do with delinquent accounts. It was the fact that I don’t have an active credit card.
I don’t want a credit card. But the truth is, if you don’t have a credit card these days, you’re persona non grata. I have a debit card (three of them, actually) and pay cash and pay my bills on time. I haven’t personally acquired half the national debt at 32.7% interest with a $29.99 late fee. Therefore, according to the Equifax gods, I’m a poor financial risk.
The number one recommendation from the financial dude? Get at least two credit cards and use ’em. Crappy payment history doesn’t count as much as credit cards, it seems.
So I dutifully turned in my application for a credit card tonight. It’ll be a secured one, since it’s that whole boomerang thing about the high credit risk because I don’t have credit, so I have to buy credit to get credit so I can buy more credit. I knew it would come to this, as much as I loath the idea. Unfortunately in UCAA (United Credit Addicts of America) you are eventually left with no choice. And there are actually a few benefits; when I do need to borrow money again, even 33% is a hell of a lot cheaper than an 814% interest payday-loan.
It’s inexcusable that despite the country’s monetary fiasco, you are obligated to run up debt before you’re counted as a “responsible” member of the human race.