Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Help Me Howard: Credit Repair
Do you know what is on your credit report? Odds are you probably don't and you certainly should, because it could have a tremendous impact. On you how can you find out for free, here is Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- A lot of people dream of owning their own business. Jenny Jean s is determined to do it.
Jenny Jean: "It's going to be wonderful. I believe. It's excitement for me and something I've always wanted."
While preparing to open the boutique store in West Palm Beach, Jenny made sure her finances were in order and that's when she discovered a problem.
Jenny Jean: "I noticed that there were two things that I wasn't familiar with."
When Jenny checked one of her credit reports she saw that she had been turned over to a collection agency for not paying a hospital bill.
Jenny Jean: "They're saying $74.71."
Jenny had been to the hospital before and thought she had paid everything she contacted them to make sure.
Jenny Jean: "I don't owe anything. They say that I am at a zero balance. I don't owe anything."
The hospital employee then told her they had never heard of the collection agency.
Jenny Jean: "They didn't even know of a syndicated office system or finance control."
Jenny then sent letters to the collection agency, but they were returned because no such business was at that address, leading her to conclude she was not going to be able to clear up this mess.
Jenny Jean: "It's going to be on my credit for seven years and I don't want it on my credit for somebody else's mistake."
Well Howard, neither Jenny nor the hospital has any idea how this unpaid bill got on her credit report, so how does she get it off?
Howard Finkelstein: "The law gives you the dispute a mark against her credit. She can file a complaint with the credit bureau and they have 30 days to conduct an investigation to determine if she owes the money. If they discovered it's a mistake, they must remove it immediately, but if they think its a valid debt, Jenny has the right to file a response that must be included in the credit report."
We then got the hospital and collection agency to talk to straighten this out. Turns out Jenny had co-insurance payment of $74.
The collection agency could not find Jenny, so that bill went on her credit report. Jenny paid it immediately and since the hospital never told her she owed the money, Jenny can put a letter explaining that in her credit report to avoid any trouble. She was smart to check her reports and you should do the same thing.
Howard Finkelstein: "The law allows you to check your credit once a year with all three credit bureaus for free. Do it because if there is a mistake, you can get it corrected before it damages your credit and your life."
Jenny can now turn her attention to her boutique and if you are wondering she has picked a name.
Jenny Jean: "Treasure Box Boutique, Hidden Pieces Boutique, Step by Step Boutique, it was just throwing names out there so we could come up with a good name and out of all those names we picked Hidden Pieces Boutique."
Good luck with the store and I am actually going to take Howard's advice and check my credit reports.
Do it you may get a surprise.
Got a problem you would bill as impossible to solve? Don't collect headaches. Report it to us. We don't need credit or cash, just your call.
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