Ask Stacy Followup: My Credit History Reappeared!

About a month ago I did a post called Ask Stacy: Help…My Credit History Disappeared! Here’s part of the reader’s correspondence from that post…

Hi Stacy,

Thank you so much for taking time to read this email. I hope you may be able to provide me with some guidance on how to handle this situation.

Here is what occurred: My husband and I went to apply for a mortgage a month ago, only to find that my husband’s credit had merged with another man’s credit. While we were in the process of disputing all 25 debts, we found out that the man (who was merged with my husband) had received my husband’s credit report in the mail AND disputed my husband’s debt. Now, my husband’s real credit has been removed from Transunion! We are concerned that Transunion will report this to the other credit agencies as well.

Obviously, we are very upset about this- we have worked hard for many years to repair my husband’s credit and now this has happened. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
– Katherine

I wrote Katherine and asked if she had talked to TransUnion and if so, what they had said. Here’s part of her response…

We were told that since my husband’s credit has been deleted from the account there is nothing they can do about it – that we must contact each creditor ourselves in hopes that the current and past debt will get re-reported to their agency.

Now, here’s part of what I advised her to do…

Rather than asking Katherine to do their work for them, the party that blew it (TransUnion) should fix it. They should also apologize for the stress, time, and trouble they’ve caused Katherine and her husband.

Katherine should write a letter to TransUnion demanding satisfaction under Section 611 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. She should send it certified with return receipt and it should include copies of any documentation that supports her assertion. If she doesn’t receive a timely response, she should proceed to the nearest consumer lawyer, since the Act also includes legal remedies for noncompliance, including punitive damages and reimbursement of attorney’s fees.

And here’s an email I received from TransUnion shortly after this post went up…

Stacy, recently read your article. I work for TransUnion and if you have any contact information on this couple (phone number, email, etc…), we would be happy to reach out to them to see if we can rectify their situation. Thanks in advance.

I put TransUnion in touch with Katherine, and got this email from her last Tuesday…

I wanted to follow up with you regarding the outcome of the mixed file with Transunion. I have been working with (name withheld) on this issue. When he contacted me, I informed him that my husband’s credit continued to merge over and over (even after we thought it had been fixed). He dealt with this issue immediately and within a few hours everything was resolved. All of my husband’s real credit was placed back on his report and the incorrect debt was removed. I did give Mr. (withheld) feedback on my personal experience and I hope he can make some changes at Transunion. It should not be this difficult to correct inaccuracies on one’s report.

So TransUnion saw the story and Katherine’s problem is now solved. What can we learn from this?

1. Don’t take it lying down

There are tons of consumer protection laws already on the books, but they won’t do you any good if you don’t take the time to learn them or make the effort to use them.

Companies that are more interested in making money than playing fair often count on you getting frustrated and walking away. It’s their strategy to tell you they won’t or can’t help, even when they know the law requires them to.

Don’t get pushed around. Learn your rights at places like the Federal Trade Commission‘s website, then leverage those laws to get what you deserve.

2. The media, lawyers, and the government can help

Before I became a consumer advocate, I had a very low opinion of the media, lawyers, and the government.

After 20 years as a consumer reporter, however, my views have changed. That’s not to suggest that all lawyers, members of the media, and government regulators are golden. In fact, many in the media are self-absorbed, many lawyers are sleazebags, and many in government are lazy.

But there are only three ways to change the bad behavior of big companies: The first is to expose it, which only the media can do. The second is to sue them into submission, which only lawyers can do. The third is with rules and regulations, which only government agencies can enforce.

So when you’ve been treated unfairly, do everything you can to solve the problem yourself. But if that doesn’t work, don’t hesitate to escalate the battle. Media people like me can’t help everyone, but I love nothing more than exposing bad behavior and trying to help someone like Katherine. As for lawyers: Some will take cases free and earn their fees from the company causing you a problem. For example, see Abused by a Debt Collector? Get a Free Lawyer. As for government agencies, as I said above, the FTC is a great place to learn about your rights, and outfits from state consumer protection agencies to the BBB are often willing to intervene on your behalf.

And one last thing: While it can sometimes be hard to believe, there are people working at companies like TransUnion who actually give a damn. Hat tip to the one who picked up the ball with Katherine’s problem and ran with it.

3. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for someone else.

Sometimes we capitulate and walk away from bad corporate behavior because the effort to win simply isn’t worth the time or stress. Nothing wrong with that, but remember many companies are counting on that kind of response. They want to cut corners because they make more money that way, and they will for as long as we allow it. And the next person they screw may be more vulnerable and less wealthy – it may be your grandmother or someone else’s.

So if you have the time and patience, hold companies responsible. Because you’re not just fighting for yourself.

Got a question you’d like answered or a problem you need help with? Drop me a line and I’ll try to help!

Got more money questions? Browse lots more Ask Stacy answers here.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors
7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors

These accounts offer exclusive discounts and other perks — including interest — to older customers.

15 Things You Should Always Buy at Yard Sales
15 Things You Should Always Buy at Yard Sales

You can save a ton of money — especially if you spot any of these items.

How Much of My Social Security Benefit Can My Ex Take From Me?
How Much of My Social Security Benefit Can My Ex Take From Me?

A man wonders if his ex-wife will siphon away his Social Security benefit.

The 10 Best Outdoor Home Upgrades for Your Money
The 10 Best Outdoor Home Upgrades for Your Money

There’s still time this summer to make improvements to the exterior of your home. These offer the best payback.

Don’t Pay for These 10 Things: They Are Free With a Library Card
Don’t Pay for These 10 Things: They Are Free With a Library Card

Before you spend another dollar on items and services like these, check with your public library.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

These Major Appliances Got the Worst Reviews in 2020
These Major Appliances Got the Worst Reviews in 2020

Consumer Reports says these home products got the worst ratings from experts.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2021
3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2021

Still married to your cable company? Hold on to your wallet!

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

15 States With the Largest Homeless Populations
15 States With the Largest Homeless Populations

Some of the states with the highest rates of homelessness might surprise you.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.