Wednesday, January 25, 2012
But I PAID That Debt OFF Already! *^&$%#&&!@
I'll share with you what I did wrong in hopes to help you avoid similar problems. You see, the creditors are beginning to call again...one full year later. I get the joy now of trying to figure out if the debt they are calling about is legitimate or is it a debt I paid off and some smarmy collector sold the debt to make more money, conveniently forgetting to mention it had been paid in full to the new collector. Let's face it, collectors aren't known for scruples.
Mistake #1- I use an online money management program to keep track of all my financial transactions. Much like the old Quicken, the program neatly organizes transactions into chosen categories which makes quick work of very helpful trending charts. Using this software isn't the mistake, after all...it is free.
I used Mint.com and overall, after three years of using them, have only a few complaints. It is a free service so I can't complain much but...when you lose financial data...well, it sucks. (Side note: always have a backup of your financial data.)
Through one small mouse click of a button, I accidentally wiped out all my data for about one solid year. I was no longer using a local credit union and decided it was time to delete their account from my Mint program. Little did I know that by deleting the credit union as an "account", it would also delete every transaction associated with that account. Ouch.
Therein lies my main complaint with Mint AND the main issue I'm having in trying to prove I have already paid these debts. With no backup data from Mint, I'm left with browsing each bank's website and looking for payments.
Mistake #2- I didn't know until this point in the prove-your-debt game that banks now only keep the last 1-2 years worth of data online. If you want to see your transactions from more than two years ago, you can't do it from the comfort of your own home. I'm guessing I'll have to call the bank and either sit down with them at a desk terminal OR order up some annual paperwork package which they'll no doubt charge me for.
I supposed there might still be people out there who haven't opted for electronic everything. If you still get monthly bank statements in the mail then you would get the joy of digging it all out and sifting through it. I attempted to cut down on paper clutter and opted for electronic billing many years ago. Either way, I feel like I'm having to prove my innocence all over again with these collectors.
Mistake #3- Once credit cards were paid off, I happily cut them into little tiny pieces and discarded them. I won't describe the dancing part. What I should have done was use a black sharpie pen to mark the date paid off on the card, who i paid it to, etc and filed the card. With the debt being sold mutliple times, or if you have mulitiple cards with the same credit card company, it becomes even more difficult to figure out what the original debt actually is from when you are talking to the collector. Save your paid off debts in a file with extensive notes.
Mistake #4- ignore the little debts. Yup, I did it. Slap me. I am now the proud owner of one little credit DING on my credit report from my local phone company because I didn't pay $53 in past fees. Oh they called me alright. I told them it was a three year old debt, I have no proof I owe it, and I AIN'T PAYING IT. Of course, they didn't argue on the phone. They don't really care. I bet it took that collector all of five minutes to sling that rediculous little debt ding on my credit report. Now I'm tarnished with a negative mark for what...five years? My point? Pay the little debts, even if you might not agree. $53 is NOT worth a credit ding.
So, for the rest of this week, I'll be dealing with a photo radar ticket from three years ago that just raised its ugly head yesterday. I also have a medical bill that popped up out of nowhere for the birth of my 5th daughter...born in 2008. I'm hoping that at some point, wayyyy in the distant future, I won't have to deal with creditors anymore. That is possible...right?