The Best Way To Fix Your Credit Score: Fight Back Online!

David vs GoliathWhen I found out Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) destroyed my credit by 100 points for an $8 non-payment by my tenants who moved, I was devastated!  I was more than 80 days into my primary home mortgage refinance when my bank told me that after checking my latest credit scores (they checked once at the beginning of the process, and again 80 days later since it’s taken so long) one score sat at only 670, thereby precluding me from the 2.625% 5/1 mortgage interest rate!

Upon hearing the news, I plopped down on my sofa and began shaking my head.  All this time spent dealing with the mortgage officers wasted.  My nerves were already frayed at day 80 because I was guided by my bank in the beginning that I would close in 45 days or less  But, due to the high volume of purchase loans, refinance loans were less of a priority.

I just couldn’t believe that a $8 utility bill by my tenants didn’t pay from THREE YEARS AGO could kill my credit score and derail my mortgage refinance process.  I kept wondering how come the same bank didn’t find anything wrong with my credit score a year ago when I refinanced, or the year before that!  Not one to ever give up, I began formulating a plan to FIGHT BACK!

REGAINING YOUR CREDIT SCORE BY FIGHTING BACK ONLINE

One of the biggest benefits of being a blogger is that if you have a grievance, you can air your grievance and more than likely someone will listen.  Of course it helps if you have a larger following, but even if you have a small following, you have power thanks to Social Media.

Step 1: Wrote a post entitled, “Corporate Greed By PG&E Killed My Friend’s Wife And My Credit Score“.  In the post, I lay out exactly what happened and held nothing back.  What PG&E did was wrong for not better maintaining its gas pipelines, crushing my credit score without making a solid attempt to contact me by e-mail or over the phone, and paying its CEO multi-millions in compensation the year of the tragedy.

Step 2: Tweet the post to @PGE4ME, Pacific Gas & Electric’s official Twitter account to make them aware of my grievances.  Within half an hour, a representative from PG&E direct messaged me back asking if they could look into my account and clear up my credit score.  I traded messages back and forth with him and he assigned someone on my case.

Step 3: Make sure they don’t drop the ball.  Have the representatives confirm with you that the problem has been fixed.  It’s easy to get excited when someone from the company gets back to you.  Sometimes, they are just doing that as part of a routine where nothing meaningful gets done.  You must be diligent in following up with them on their progress to resolve your situation.  They need to know you will Tweet and write as many posts as it takes to have them address your problem.

Within three days, PG&E wrote a “Clear Credit Letter” to all the major credit score rating companies, including the one that reported a 670 on my latest report.  PG&E also sent the letter to my bank, who then proceeded to clear the final stages of my mortgage refinance application.  I’m happy to say that even though it took 100 days to complete, I am now saving several hundred dollars a month in interest on my mortgage.

USE MY BLOG AS A PLATFORM TO REGAIN YOUR CREDIT SCORE

Most people aren’t going to receive as swift attention from corporations simply because they do not have a presence online.  It’s taken me three years to build almost a couple hundred thousands unique visitors a month and several thousand Twitter followers.  With these type of metrics, companies are going to listen.

I am inviting ALL of you who feel their credit scores have been wronged by a corporation to share your story on Financial Samurai and fight back. I want to help stamp out abuse by big corporations who are too quick to crush their client’s credit scores without taking the time to contact their clients first. I am happy to tweet your post to the corporation you are dealing with and be your champion.

Common Credit Score Problems:

* Late payments you had no idea you had.  $8 non payment for a utility bill by a landlord’s tenant.  First of all, the utility bill was under my tenant’s names for two years.  How about sending them the bill  Second of all, PG&E could have simply e-mailed or called me to pay the $8 bill since they have my information on file for the past 11 years!  Finally, how about sending the bill to my rental property so I can see the bill?  Instead, they send nothing and give no warning!  Late payments will kill your credit score, so make sure you are on top of your payments!

* Identity theft leading to erroneous bills, leading to non payment.  Identity theft is growing bigger and bigger as more of us pay bills online.  One friend got her credit score demolished by 130 points to 620 because someone used her identity and her credit card to rack up $700 worth of clothes!  She had no idea until 10 months later when she checked her credit score online that the department store had reported the claim.  She spent the next six months trying to prove to the authorities and to the department store that she did not buy what they thought said she bought.  What a disaster!

* An account you thought was closed but wasn’t.  Some people have lots of credit cards to take advantage of introductory interest rates or rewards points.  One friend opened up a Home Depot credit card to get the immediate 15% off for his $1,505 bill for a garden remodel project.  The HD card was also 0% for the first 12 months so he figured he’d pay the card off in the very last week.  For some reason, my friend wrote a check for $1,500 and not $1,505 and thought everything was all square.  It turns out that because he didn’t pay the extra $5, HD charged 25% interest for 12 months – 1 week for $1,508, leaving him with a remaining $358 he had no idea about until he went to finance a car two years later!  My friend’s credit got hit by 90 points to 685, resulting in a car loan rate of 8% vs. 1.9%.  He passed on the car and spent the next three months getting HD to fix his score.

LESSON LEARNED ABOUT REGAINING YOUR CREDIT SCORE

1) The bigger the corporation, the more hoops you will have to jump through to get someone to help you out. Big corporations love to pass the buck onto someone else.  If you’ve ever been hung up by a representative half way through a sentence, or been transferred to someone else, you know what I’m talking about.

2) Don’t ever assume your credit score is safe. For three years, I was blissfully unaware that one of my credit scores was 680 until my latest refinance.  A credit score doesn’t matter until you need it.  Then, you will be sideswiped if you don’t act quickly.

3) Always double and triple check that your accounts are closed. Be a little paranoid about account closing processes, especially if you tend to take advantage of many offerings.  It’s easy to lose track and once you do, you might never find out until it’s too late because large corporations tend to shoot first and ask questions later.

4) Leverage the power of social media. You might want to open a Twitter account or start a blog just because you’ve been wronged or frustrated.  Lucky for you I’m willing to support you if I feel you have a legitimate case.

5) Don’t ever give up! Many corporations are counting on you to roll over and die.  Why do you think it takes 10 different options to get through to someone in customer service on the phone?  Corporations purposefully make things so complicated that they count on you to give up.  Don’t give up if you have been wronged.  Fight for your rights!

Recommended Product:

Free Credit Score Check

Regards,

Sam

Photo: Big Dog vs. Little Dog, SD.

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Holly@ClubThrifty says

    My husband had a ding on his credit from a $37 electric bill from college. We had no idea about it! We got something in the mail after we had moved across the country and after he had been out of college for several years. We were shocked.

    When I paid off my old car loan, I got a ding on my credit for no reason. I formally disputed it and they removed it promptly.

    I think the most important thing is to check your credit regularly for errors.

  2. krantcents says

    In the eighties, I was rejected for a line of credit thanks to an erroneous report. A department store reported a write off of a credit card balance in error. It took 6 months to correct it and I never had the satisfaction of knowing it was not mine. It is good to know that it can be fixed much faster now.

    • Financial Samurai says

      6 months… wow, that is painful. However, there are still stories that I’m getting e-mailed about impossible fixes. This is something I’m aiming to address for anybody who needs help and who has a legitimate case.

  3. Eddie says

    I thankfully never had a problem with my credit-score or any errors associated with the score, so thankfully I never had to deal with the credit score companies. However, on a different note, I’ve had it out with my mobile provider. Recently, there was a promo for a $0 phone, and only 1 yr term contract. Sounds good? However, it was only offered to new clients. I’m not a new client, even though my contract will be up in 4 months. Long story, I had it out over the guy on the other line, and he basically said how they this and that for me (he was referring to what I negotiated with them 3yrs ago). Needless to say, it left a sour taste with me.

    So, needless to say I was planning to air my dirty laundry via a post, and tweet it directly to them. Stay tuned!

  4. Lance@MoneyLife&More says

    Glad you beat the man and are prvidung a similar opportunity for your readers Sam. Luckily I check my Creighton report 3 times a year and have seen no problems yet! What astounds me is that they never sent you a bill or anything. Some companies don’t try very hard that is for sure.

  5. Untemplater says

    Man I really need to run my credit report. I’ve had it on my to do list for over six months and my goal is to check it three times a year. I’ll put it at the top of my list to do this week. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Nurse Frugal says

    Wow…..that is totally gnarly. I cannot even believe that an $8 bill would mess up your score so much!!!! I try to check my credit score at least once a year to make sure nothing fishy is going on. My biggest fear is identity theft so I always keep a tight eye on that. Luckily I have never had any issues with this, thank goodness.

  7. Ornella @ Moneylicious says

    Sorry to hear about that! An $8 bill would mess up a score…but I believe it. Most companies or credit card companies don’t inform you. And then they want to charge a late fee. This happened to me when I was paying off a credit card bill. I didn’t realize I missed the payment by like $5 or maybe it was $8, and they charged me a late fee. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy, but it wasn’t reported late to the credit bureaus.

    Definitely know what’s going on with your credit report and score.

  8. Call Me What You Want Even Cheap says

    These are just some of the things that will slip through the cracks if we as customers don’t wake up and do something about it. I am glad you are taking this as serious as you are. Once enough people take a stand, things usually happen.

  9. Michelle says

    I’ve thought about using my blog for something similar myself. We were bullied by a extended warranty company and I’m still thinking about airing our grievance online! Good job keeping up the fight. I bet a lot of people would just give up with something like that.

  10. Kim@Eyesonthedollar says

    So many people just stick their heads in the sand and give up if something is wrong with their credit score. Good to see you fighting the man and sticking up for others! By the way, awesome picture.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Thanks Kim! I am willing to fight to the end, always. I hate getting bullied and bullshitted.

      The big dog is the cutest dog ever. I just so happened to capture him playing around with the little dog. Hilarious snarl!

  11. Jen @ Master the Art of Saving says

    All the dings on my credit (a few years back and more) we’re completely my fault. With hard work I’ve mended my frivolous ways and improved it dramatically.

    We’re buying our first house right now and I have been watching our credit like a hawk. I’ll probably be even more attentive after reading about what happened to you. 8 bucks! Really? That’s crazy that they could get 100 points knocked off for that.

    Awesome job getting it resolved. :-) Plus it’s pretty cool of you to offer to help out other so much.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Yep, a 100 point not to 670 or so for one report thanks to the $8 non payment. Thankfully, they got that shit cleared up and didn’t derail my refi or else I would have written a post everyday bashing PG&E to death!

  12. Darwin's Money says

    That’s impressive that you were able to get results. There are so many horror stories with credit impact that I’ve always just “hoped it wouldn’t happen” and figured if it did, if minimal, I’d have to just live with it. The stories of what people go through are insane and often times, a total mistake.

  13. Jacob @ iheartbudgets says

    Sam, this is a great idea! A great service you are providing to those who get screwed by company errors. Actually, I am posting a series about billing mistakes right now and want to do something similar. Sometimes we feel so small compared to these large corporation that it seems like we can’t do anything.

    I am actually looking into tweeting AT&T and Comcast to talk about unnecessary charges on bills. It’s lame that everyone who has commented so far has regular billing errors from major players.

  14. Alex says

    This article was awesome and very powerful!! Thank you. Being fairly new to the credit repair and credit score arena I am constantly trying to gather as much information as possible to try and keep myself headed in the right general direction. Spending some time on this post has actually given me a lot of great points to think about. In my recent research I have also been able to find some useful information related to this topic when I Googled the credit locker university. Thanks again!

  15. Jake says

    One thing that I did, which was a big help, was dispute the negative items on my credit report. I am not a big believer in paying someone else when it’s something I can do for myself, so I disputed the items on my own. It was so worth it for me, I Googled ‘credit software’ and learned pretty much everything there was to know. It’s working so far!

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