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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 38879
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Hello, I have a question that relates to my credit score. I

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I have a question that relates to my credit score.

I have a good credit score and I make all my payments in full and on time since the credit accounts were opened. My wife is the one making the payments. In June this year we received an e-mail (we are paperless) from Citi letting us know that there is an amount due to be paid on a Sears card. My wife logged in to the sears account online and saw a 0 balance. She assumed its a mistake and did nothing. A few weeks later we got another notification this time by phone and she told the rep that when she logs-in the balance is 0... the rep said OK and hang up... Then a letter came in the mail about a past due amount (It was $40) this time I told her maybe we have another card from sears... she did not remember that we even applied to one (its on my name) but after very thorough investigation on our part we discovered that what happened was we were at the sears store one day in March or April and were offered to apply for the store card which I did and received an instant credit but then the rep also offered anther sears card which can be used anywhere and approved me for that one also (apparently it was in my purse and I used it one day at the supermarket for 1 purchase of $40). What happened was that when my wife was logging in the computer recognized her for the store card and did not show her anything else (the debt was on the other card) We immediately called the card issuer and explained the situation. We paid the debt in full (they took off all the late fees) and that was it. We don't use this card now even tough it has 7K credit limit on it. The problem is that this $39 delinquent charge started to appear on my otherwise perfect credit report and my credit score has dropped dramatically because of this. As you can see this was a whole misunderstanding and not a result of negligence or no ability to pay. If I understand correctly this delinquency can stay on my credit for up to 7 years! What can I do to delete this delinquency from my credit report? I would appreciate your help on this. I'm available for any questions that may rise and hope I did not confuse you completely. Thank you!

Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), creditors and a credit reporting agencies are required to provide accurate information concerning a borrower's account status as part of any credit report. 15 U.S.C. § 1681(a). You have admitted that you were late on a payment, therefore, the credit report is correct, if it lists your payment as delinquent. Consequently, neither the creditor nor the credit reporting agency is in violation of federal law concerning the report of your account status.

That said, it is also true, that your error was based upon a good faith mistake. Creditors have the authority to remove a negative credit report entry as a "clerical error." Thus, your recourse is to write to the creditor, explain everything that happened, exactly as you have done to me, and simply make respectful request that the creditor delete the negative entry as a clerical error.

Assuming that your letter reaches someone who is reasonable, the creditor is likely to honor your request. If not, then unfortunately, you are stuck for the next seven years -- because given your stated facts, the credit report is accurate, and so you can't sue for a violation of the FCRA.

The good news is that every month that your payments are timely, your credit score will rise. After about two years, your score will return to where it was before the negative entry, despite its remaining on your account for seven years.

Please let me know if I can clarify my answer or provide further assistance.

Hope this helps.
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