My dad's unpaid bills tanked my credit — here's how I fixed it
Dan Nainan / LearnVest Dan Nainan, 34, is a comedian in New York City.
When it comes to finances, I consider myself pretty savvy.
I pay my bills on time, live well within my means — and every 12 months or so, I call up my credit card company to request a limit increase. It's one of the best strategies I know for maintaining a healthy credit score.
So you can imagine my shock when my request for a credit increase was declined a year ago. After all, I had no outstanding bills or delinquent accounts — or so I thought.
After pulling my free credit report — something I hadn't done in about a year — I discovered a handful of unpaid bills that had indeed been sent to collections. They were worth only a few hundred dollars, but clearly that was enough to impact my ability to extend my credit line.
The good news: I discovered the charges weren't mine. The bad news: They belonged to my father, whose name is very similar.
I brought it up to him, showing him the accounts, which he more or less waved off. He's an old-school, stubborn type who felt that the charges — cable and medical bills — were unfair to begin with, so he just never paid them.
The fact that they wound up on my credit report wasn't intentional, but I needed to fix the issue — and quickly.
Since the erroneous bills only showed up on my Experian report, I wrote them a letter, politely pointing out the problem. I included my name and Social Security
number, along with my father's, to show the distinction. I also explained that I don't even live in Maryland, which is where the accounts originated.
I also sent it via certified mail, and requested a return receipt so I could prove it was received. About two months later I was notified via mail that the accounts had been removed from my credit report.
Almost instantly my credit score skyrocketed from 720 to 800, where it's stayed ever since. I was thrilled to have my spotless credit history restored — and I'm now more committed than ever to closely monitoring my reports to help ensure there are no future mix-ups.
The best part is that being so diligent about my credit doesn't cost me a dime, since I can pull a free credit report from each bureau every year.
In the end, I feel lucky that all it took to erase my problem was a letter and a postage stamp.
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