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My Credit Journey - Insights Welcome


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I've had a terrible time managing credit ever since I received my very first credit card back in 1989 as a student. Nobody ever taught me how to manage credit and frankly, it scared the heck out of me. I was a student, working my way through school at Michigan State and the pre-approved credit card offers seemed like free money to me. Of course we know that is not how this works. So I got in over my head and felt pretty powerless in dealing with credit card companies, banks and CRAs. Over the years I made a few uninformed attempts to clean up negatives (before the days of the internet) but it didn't make much difference.

 

I decided to live on a cash only basis for over 15 years. NOT, I discovered, the solution.

 

In 2011 I decided I wasn't going to sabotage myself any longer and discovered CB. What a godsend. I realized I had some power as a consumer and was very focused for some time - obtaining my credit reports, sending disputes, monitoring, opening a couple of secured CCs - and then sometime in 2012 life distracted me for a while with a move to NYC and my credit repair work fell by the wayside.

 

A couple of weeks ago I got a letter from a CA representing my former landlord who wants to collect $4K in bogus and illegal late fees (I know, right? Greedy B***ards). After consulting with a lawyer, who confirmed that late fees on rent are illegal in California, I've sent a cease and desist dunning letter to the CA, letting them know that if they report this bogus debt to the CRAs I'll be naming them in the lawsuit I'm filing against my former landlord.

 

I had ordered my reports and the collection was not reported. Everything else looked pretty good - in the two years since I last disputed, time has worked to my advantage and the majority of my negatives have fallen off. There are a couple left, though.

 

So now the really fun part of my journey begins - Rebuilding! This is my plan:

 

First Premier $456 CA

EQ Due to fall off 10/14 - will dispute as obsolete July 1

TU Due to fall off 09/14 - disputed as obsolete via TU online dispute form 04/20/14

EX Due to fall off 07/14 - disputed as obsolete in jack attack CMRR 04/21/14

 

Wells Fargo Installment Loan (Settlement, not full amount due)

EQ Shown as Charge off to fall off 11/16

TU Shown as Paid in Full and Charge Off

EX Shown as Paid in Settlement - note also stating it's scheduled to continue o nrecord until 08/16

Called Wells Fargo and they were unable to verify this account because they couldn't access their digital archive. This has been the case for a couple of weeks the rep told me. So basically, they can't verify anything if the system is down. I will continue to call back and make a note every day of this technical problem. Sent jack attack to all 3 CRAs letting them know Wells Fargo has no record of this account. I'll use my daily phone confirmation that their system is down to nail them if it comes back validated.

 

Capital Bank

EQ Marked the account as negative with a code 1 (due to a 30 day late on 07/11). Account only goes back to 5/12 on report.

TU Shows 30 day late 06/11

EX Shows 30 day late 06/11

Spoke to rep at Capital Bank and their records only go back to 2012 so they have no record of this. Included in jack attack for all 3 CRAs. If this comes back as validated, I'll have a letter from Capital Bank to force them to remove this and show the account in good standing.

 

Enhanced Recovery Comcast $150

TU CA reports as $150 first reported 02/11

EX CA reports as $150 first reported 02/11

04/21/14 Sending a request for validation to Enhanced Recovery disputing this as mine. Am hoping they fold easily as I've read on CB they do. If they don't delete it will dispute with CRAs.

 

Public Savings Bank (Became Capital Bank so this is just the first several months of my Cap Bank acct)

EX Shows as negative, 30 day late on 06/11 disputed in jack attack, to be deleted as duplicate, also Capital Bank no longer has any record of this.

 

Rebuilding: My credit is pretty thin

Wells Fargo Installement Loan paid on time since 1999 (never late)

Capital Bank - first secured card $1850 CL, opened 2010

Capital One - second secured card for $300, auto CLI to $500, opened 2011 (never late)

 

AND today received approval for Capital One Classic Platinum $1,000. My first unsecured card (does have an annual fee but this will be my last with an AF) since this all began and my highest initial limit! For some of you this might sound like small potatoes but for me it's a huge win!! :)

 

Also just approved for membership in Quorum CU - would you guys say this was worthwile? Would I do better with just MSU CU? Any feedback on this one?

 

Next Steps:

I'll continue to pay down my balances and keep my utilization low, working toward 1-5%

WalMart - what do you think? Should I apply right away for this considering I was just approved for the Cap1 Classic Platinum at $1K?

July 2014 Apply for Quorum CC

Joining MSU credit union (go Spartans!)

November 2014 - CLI Capital One, apply for MSU Visa

 

Would love any feedback or advice at this stage. I know that I need to keep my utilization down and continue to increase my open credit. Any info on best practice for which to do this would be greatly appreciated!

 

This has been really fun to share! My goal is a perfectly clean report in 6 months and 2 additional CCs by 2015.

 

Oh, and here's a copy of my dunning letter to the landlord's CA

 

Greedy B***ard Collection Agency, INC

666 xxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxx, xx xxxxxx

 

Mr, xxxx,

 

This letter is in response to a collection letter you sent me dated March 24, 2014 to collect $4,438.11 on behalf of xxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxx customer # xxxxxx.

 

This is a disputed claim and you will cease and desist in taking any action on this account. I want written confirmation from you Greedy B***ards that you will not/have not reported this illegal and fraudulent “debt “ to any of the three credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.

 

If you do report or have reported this false information to the credit reporting agencies, you will be named as a party in the law suit I am filing against Greedy B***ard Landlord for breach of contract and unfair business practices.

 

You may send the written confirmation to me at the address above. Please send via fed ex or certified mail with signature confirmation to be certain I receive it. This will protect your interests and show the court that you acted in good faith.

 

Sincerely,

One Empowered Lady

Edited by bravegirl
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I would opt out and remove as many old addresses as possible from your reports , if you haven't already done so.

All of your plans look good , good luck to you.

Thanks for the feedback. I opted out back in 2011 and only had a couple of extra addresses on TU and EQ that I jack attacked. EX is another case altogether - they never removed a single address. I've got to address that in a separate letter or online.

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Also just approved for membership in Quorum CU - sending in the ID docs they asked for today.

 

Just approved for WalMart fo $600 so that bumps up my available by a bit! :)

 

Tried for a CLI on my CapOne secured card last week online and they denied me (they'd CLId it $200 automatically a while back so I thought it was worth a try.) Sent a recon email to their executive office same day. Waiting on that answer.

 

Next Steps:

I'll continue to pay down my balances and keep my utilization low, working toward 1-5%

 

July 2014 Apply for Quorum CC

Joining MSU credit union (go Spartans!)

November 2014 - CLI Capital One, apply for MSU Visa

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Lud. Been on the phone with Wells Fargo for 15 minutes and they can't pull up any records of the negative settled loan.

They finally found the settled acct. They agreed to call EQ, TU & EX and have them change the pay status from "charged off" to "paid" so that now I can invoke the NY 5 year removal law.

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Next Steps:

I'll continue to pay down my balances and keep my utilization low, working toward 1-5%

 

July 2014 Apply for Quorum CC

08/22/14 Request CLI from Walmart (Thanks Occam!)

Joining MSU credit union (go Spartans!)

November 2014 - CLI Capital One, apply for MSU Visa

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I'd consider adding one more card to your file and then wait a few months before adding another. I don't think those Capital Bank cards ever unsecure (someone correct me if I'm wrong). If you go secured for a card I'd add one that will unsecure. I know that Bank of America, Citi and WF all unsecure after a period of time. If you have positive history with Wells Fargo, I'd go there first. The WF Visa in my sig started as a secured card and graduated after 18 months to an unsecured with no AF and kept all the history. (So I now have a 2+ year old unsecured WF card with no AF)

 

If you want one more store card - Macy's or Target would be easy approvals for you since you were approved for WM but don't open a store card somewhere you don't shop. Macy's tends to be more generous with the CLIs. Target sucks with CLIs but you get the 5% off with all purchases when you use the card and you can stack that with the cartwheel discount.

My best piece of advice for anyone starting out or rebuilding is to pick credit lines that can grow with you. If it's secured, make sure the card can unsecure and keep the history. If it's a store card, make sure it's a store you actually shop at a few times a year. My oldest card is my Bloomie's that dates back to 2006 and somehow survived my last financial meltdown. I shop at Bloomie's a few times a year which keeps it active and it looks great on my reports next to all the new(er) accounts.

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I'd consider adding one more card to your file and then wait a few months before adding another. I don't think those Capital Bank cards ever unsecure (someone correct me if I'm wrong). If you go secured for a card I'd add one that will unsecure. I know that Bank of America, Citi and WF all unsecure after a period of time. If you have positive history with Wells Fargo, I'd go there first. The WF Visa in my sig started as a secured card and graduated after 18 months to an unsecured with no AF and kept all the history. (So I now have a 2+ year old unsecured WF card with no AF)

 

If you want one more store card - Macy's or Target would be easy approvals for you since you were approved for WM but don't open a store card somewhere you don't shop. Macy's tends to be more generous with the CLIs. Target sucks with CLIs but you get the 5% off with all purchases when you use the card and you can stack that with the cartwheel discount.

My best piece of advice for anyone starting out or rebuilding is to pick credit lines that can grow with you. If it's secured, make sure the card can unsecure and keep the history. If it's a store card, make sure it's a store you actually shop at a few times a year. My oldest card is my Bloomie's that dates back to 2006 and somehow survived my last financial meltdown. I shop at Bloomie's a few times a year which keeps it active and it looks great on my reports next to all the new(er) accounts.

Thanks for your input! I just applied for an additional CapOne but was given the "we'll mail you your answer in 7-10 days." I might pop over to Macy's or Bloomies to see how I'll do there. Definitely no more secured cards for me! Also not interested in any annual fees at this stage. Just want my little credit garden to bloom, grow and expand :) I'm all about the CLIs now. Edited by bravegirl
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I'd consider adding one more card to your file and then wait a few months before adding another. I don't think those Capital Bank cards ever unsecure (someone correct me if I'm wrong). If you go secured for a card I'd add one that will unsecure. I know that Bank of America, Citi and WF all unsecure after a period of time. If you have positive history with Wells Fargo, I'd go there first. The WF Visa in my sig started as a secured card and graduated after 18 months to an unsecured with no AF and kept all the history. (So I now have a 2+ year old unsecured WF card with no AF)

 

If you want one more store card - Macy's or Target would be easy approvals for you since you were approved for WM but don't open a store card somewhere you don't shop. Macy's tends to be more generous with the CLIs. Target sucks with CLIs but you get the 5% off with all purchases when you use the card and you can stack that with the cartwheel discount.

My best piece of advice for anyone starting out or rebuilding is to pick credit lines that can grow with you. If it's secured, make sure the card can unsecure and keep the history. If it's a store card, make sure it's a store you actually shop at a few times a year. My oldest card is my Bloomie's that dates back to 2006 and somehow survived my last financial meltdown. I shop at Bloomie's a few times a year which keeps it active and it looks great on my reports next to all the new(er) accounts.

Thanks for your input! I just applied for an additional CapOne but was given the "we'll mail you your answer in 7-10 days." I might pop over to Macy's or Bloomies to see how I'll do there. Definitely no more secured cards for me! Also not interested in any annual fees at this stage. Just want my little credit garden to bloom, grow and expand :) I'm all about the CLIs now.

 

 

Don't add anymore Cap 1 cards. Two is enough for now, wait until you can get an unsecured card somewhere else if you don't want to do the secured route. Let the ones you have grow. If you're looking for CLIs - Macy's and Bloomie's are both good for that. You typically have to call in every six months but you can grow a $200 Macy's card pretty quickly. But as I said, above only get these cards IF YOU SHOP THERE. Most people live near/shop at Macy's but not everyone does. Bloomie's has less stores (they're also more expensive generally.)

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I'd consider adding one more card to your file and then wait a few months before adding another. I don't think those Capital Bank cards ever unsecure (someone correct me if I'm wrong). If you go secured for a card I'd add one that will unsecure. I know that Bank of America, Citi and WF all unsecure after a period of time. If you have positive history with Wells Fargo, I'd go there first. The WF Visa in my sig started as a secured card and graduated after 18 months to an unsecured with no AF and kept all the history. (So I now have a 2+ year old unsecured WF card with no AF)

 

If you want one more store card - Macy's or Target would be easy approvals for you since you were approved for WM but don't open a store card somewhere you don't shop. Macy's tends to be more generous with the CLIs. Target sucks with CLIs but you get the 5% off with all purchases when you use the card and you can stack that with the cartwheel discount. My best piece of advice for anyone starting out or rebuilding is to pick credit lines that can grow with you. If it's secured, make sure the card can unsecure and keep the history. If it's a store card, make sure it's a store you actually shop at a few times a year. My oldest card is my Bloomie's that dates back to 2006 and somehow survived my last financial meltdown. I shop at Bloomie's a few times a year which keeps it active and it looks great on my reports next to all the new(er) accounts.

 

Thanks for your input! I just applied for an additional CapOne but was given the "we'll mail you your answer in 7-10 days." I might pop over to Macy's or Bloomies to see how I'll do there. Definitely no more secured cards for me! Also not interested in any annual fees at this stage. Just want my little credit garden to bloom, grow and expand :) I'm all about the CLIs now.

Don't add anymore Cap 1 cards. Two is enough for now, wait until you can get an unsecured card somewhere else if you don't want to do the secured route. Let the ones you have grow. If you're looking for CLIs - Macy's and Bloomie's are both good for that. You typically have to call in every six months but you can grow a $200 Macy's card pretty quickly. But as I said, above only get these cards IF YOU SHOP THERE. Most people live near/shop at Macy's but not everyone does. Bloomie's has less stores (they're also more expensive generally.)

I'm in Manhattan - Macy's and Bloomingdales galore!

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I'd consider adding one more card to your file and then wait a few months before adding another. I don't think those Capital Bank cards ever unsecure (someone correct me if I'm wrong). If you go secured for a card I'd add one that will unsecure. I know that Bank of America, Citi and WF all unsecure after a period of time. If you have positive history with Wells Fargo, I'd go there first. The WF Visa in my sig started as a secured card and graduated after 18 months to an unsecured with no AF and kept all the history. (So I now have a 2+ year old unsecured WF card with no AF)

 

If you want one more store card - Macy's or Target would be easy approvals for you since you were approved for WM but don't open a store card somewhere you don't shop. Macy's tends to be more generous with the CLIs. Target sucks with CLIs but you get the 5% off with all purchases when you use the card and you can stack that with the cartwheel discount. My best piece of advice for anyone starting out or rebuilding is to pick credit lines that can grow with you. If it's secured, make sure the card can unsecure and keep the history. If it's a store card, make sure it's a store you actually shop at a few times a year. My oldest card is my Bloomie's that dates back to 2006 and somehow survived my last financial meltdown. I shop at Bloomie's a few times a year which keeps it active and it looks great on my reports next to all the new(er) accounts.

Thanks for your input! I just applied for an additional CapOne but was given the "we'll mail you your answer in 7-10 days." I might pop over to Macy's or Bloomies to see how I'll do there. Definitely no more secured cards for me! Also not interested in any annual fees at this stage. Just want my little credit garden to bloom, grow and expand :) I'm all about the CLIs now.

Don't add anymore Cap 1 cards. Two is enough for now, wait until you can get an unsecured card somewhere else if you don't want to do the secured route. Let the ones you have grow. If you're looking for CLIs - Macy's and Bloomie's are both good for that. You typically have to call in every six months but you can grow a $200 Macy's card pretty quickly. But as I said, above only get these cards IF YOU SHOP THERE. Most people live near/shop at Macy's but not everyone does. Bloomie's has less stores (they're also more expensive generally.)

I'm in Manhattan - Macy's and Bloomingdales galore!

 

 

Okay, then go for it. I know some rebuilders add Bloomies and then live in the sticks and can never use it. (I live in North Jersey myself so both are all over the place here.) Macy's should approve you if Wal-Mart did. I think it's an EX pull but they have a lot of incentives with coupons if you use the card and you can call every six months for a CLI and build to a pretty nice credit limit over time. Bloomie's is the same bank/system so if Macy's approves you, you can probably also get Bloomie's but try Macy's first.

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I would say PayPal over Macy's/Bloomies because you can apply for the MC and if not qualified they give you the smartconnect account, and let's be honest... Who doesn't use PayPal several times a year at LEAST these days? If you got approved for Walmart you will probabyget approved for PP as they are both GECRB. They pull only TU (see B*), grow well with you, and can be pretty generous to a lot of people. Think it over before pulling the trigger :grin:

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I would say PayPal over Macy's/Bloomies because you can apply for the MC and if not qualified they give you the smartconnect account, and let's be honest... Who doesn't use PayPal several times a year at LEAST these days? If you got approved for Walmart you will probabyget approved for PP as they are both GECRB. They pull only TU (see B*), grow well with you, and can be pretty generous to a lot of people. Think it over before pulling the trigger :grin:

 

Actually, I haven't used Paypal in AGES. I only used paypal when I didn't have credit cards and used my checking account/debit card to buy things online.

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I had a couple of unauthorized charges last year from using a CC online. I reverted to PP and haven't had an issue since. I know the CC issuer usually has zero fraud liability, but I dread going somewhere and getting declined due to fraudulent charges. At least by using PP it never gets back to my CC. Just my opinion either way though, pick whichever card you think will be a better fit for you OP :grin:

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I had a couple of unauthorized charges last year from using a CC online. I reverted to PP and haven't had an issue since. I know the CC issuer usually has zero fraud liability, but I dread going somewhere and getting declined due to fraudulent charges. At least by using PP it never gets back to my CC. Just my opinion either way though, pick whichever card you think will be a better fit for you OP :grin:

 

Hmm, interesting thought. I didn't consider that. :good:

 

Back to the OP, do whatever makes sense for you. I still stand by the mantra store cards aren't bad if they're places you actually shop.

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I would say PayPal over Macy's/Bloomies because you can apply for the MC and if not qualified they give you the smartconnect account, and let's be honest... Who doesn't use PayPal several times a year at LEAST these days? If you got approved for Walmart you will probabyget approved for PP as they are both GECRB. They pull only TU (see B*), grow well with you, and can be pretty generous to a lot of people. Think it over before pulling the trigger :grin:

I'll do some research on this Jordan - thanks. I have no idea what smart connect is...? I do use paypal when I buy stuff on eBay but normally have it pulled out of my checking.

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With still a couple of negs on my report and a strong desire to have them removed once and for all, I invested in a rubber address stamp today. It should arrive before the next wave of letters goes out.

 

Because addressing all of those CMRRs is a royal pain in the patootie!

Edited by bravegirl
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Next Steps:

I'll continue to pay down my balances and keep my utilization low, working toward 1-5%

 

4/23 Joined Alliant CU - savings account

Sent Enhanced Recover Validation letter

July 2014 Apply for Quorum CC

Joining MSU credit union (go Spartans!)

November 2014 - CLI Capital One, apply for MSU Visa

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Next Steps

I'll continue to pay down my balances and keep my utilization low, working toward 1-5%

 

4/23 Joined Alliant CU - savings account

Sent Enhanced Recover Validation letter

Applied for NASA CU - waiting for approval

Join MSU credit union (go Spartans!)

08/22/14 Request CLI from Walmart (Thanks Occam)

09/25/14 Apply for Quorum CC

11/1514 - CLI Capital One, apply for MSU Visa

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Really psyched that CapOne has CLI'ed my secured card to $1,500 from $500 so that's cool.

 

Not so psyched Chase denied me for an Amazon card. They pulled EX which is FUBAR and I'm still waiting for EX to respond to my most recent dispute. The reasons for refusal:

  • Credit report shows delinquency, public record or bankruptcy (I've got a grand total of 4 of these but 2 for sure SHOULD come off with dispute)
  • One or more revolving accounts have not been paid as agreed (I've got to call again for GW on that one stupid 30-day late from 2.5 years ago)
  • Total available credit on revolving accounts is too low (that is quickly changing. My overall utilization is now 25% if they would only report it already!)
  • Balances on credit cards are high compared to credit lines (again, that's no longer an issue at 25% total utilization.) I wonder if the $6k left on my WF loan is factored into this high balance..?

All in all, this teaches me that I need to wait until AFTER my statements post to the CRAs before applying for anything new. And to wait until I see my results with the CRAs after disputing.

 

Got green slips back for TU and Enhanced Recovery. The 30 day clock starts now for them.

 

Approved for Quorum CU and Alliant CU. Sending in required ID docs for NASA CU today. Paying another big chunk on my Capital Bank CC to get my total utilization down to less than %10. Will wait until the currently unposted payment goes through.

 

Have decided to use my rewards card for all purchases I'd otherwise make with cash going forward. I want those rewards!

Edited by bravegirl
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UPDATE ON 30-DAY LATE

 

Capital Bank

EQ Marked the account as negative with a code 1 (due to a 30 day late on 07/11). Account only goes back to 5/12 on report.

TU Shows 30 day late 06/11

EX Shows 30 day late 06/11

Spoke to rep at Capital Bank and their records only go back to 2012 so they have no record of this. Included in jack attack for all 3 CRAs. If this comes back as validated, I'll have a letter from Capital Bank to force them to remove this and show the account in good standing.

 

4/30/14 Capital Bank (Open Sky) has agreed to remove this and is reporting to the CRAs tonight so that should be reflected on the report I'll request from Experian in response to their declining me for the Amazon card. I'll request that report this Friday. It should reflect this account in GOOD STANDING and my overall utilization to be less than 30%.

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So checked via Experian's back door and while the new Walmart card is reporting, the 30-Day Late has not been deleted.

 

I haven't received the green slip from Experian or Equifax yet so I'll check both in a couple of days.

 

Received a response to my DV letter from the collection agency for my former landlord. They sent a nonsense tally but lo and behold - they reduced the amount from $4k to $1k. In fact, this new total exactly matches the itemized list of late fees (illegal in California) that my landlord gave me upon moving out.

 

Filing law suite this week. This is going to be fun! I'm literally rubbing my hands together in anticipation. I can't wait to see what I can go after the CA for.

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      Is this right, no. However, as you probably know a financial institution may choose to do business with whomever they choose (a rather broad definition). I have read that even if an American Express account has been fully-discharged by a successfully complete bankruptcy case, they will no longer choose to do business with you.
       
      The reason I am asking is twenty years ago, I listed them as a creditor in my Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. I would like to apply for membership in the future when my current FICO is a bit stronger. However, I do not want to burn a hard-inquiry only for it to be declined.
       
      I apologize if I am not posting in the correct area. Thank you.
    • By c0moneyman
      Wassup y’all, I went through a rough patch in my life when I was 18 and overcharged the freak out of a kohls charge card and it went into collections. I paid it off and now i’m thinking🤔, how can i get that removed off my report since i paid it off. I know i should’ve tried to write a letter to them saying if i pay it off they’ll knock it off my credit but i wasn’t thinking back then. Is it to late to contact them and ask to get it removed if possible? Im not tryna wait 7 years i’m trying to get a house next year y’all.




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