4 Ways to Handle Credit Problems

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When it comes to dealing with credit card companies, you don't need to be frustrated with or accept all forms of unpleasantness. There are many steps consumers may take to deal with any credit issues that arise. Whether you tackle these problems by yourself, or rely on consumer advocacy institutions, being aware of the following steps can end up saving you a ton of headaches.

  1. File a complaint with your financial institution. Your issuer/bank wants to keep you as their client. Most will be more than willing to work with you to iron out any issues that may have arisen -- ones that might cause you to cease all your business with the bank. Whether it is trying to get an annual fee waived, or negotiate a payment plan to work down your credit card debt, calling the customer-retention line might help.
  2. File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Contacting the CFPB is usually done when you didn't receive a satisfactory response from your financial institution -- and it pays to complain. Recent studies have shown that when an individual lodges a complaint with the CFPB regarding fees, there is approximately a 1 in 5 chance of receiving monetary reimbursement. Consumers who submitted complaints about late fees had the biggest chance of success -- with over half of them (56%) receiving a refund.
  3. Inform credit reporting agencies if you've become a victim of fraud. When somebody runs a credit check on you, they have no way of discerning between items listed which were a result of your actions, or that of somebody posing as you. This is why it is vital to inform TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian whenever somebody steals your identity. These organizations will then work with you to help identify any items in your credit history which should not be attributed to you. While these items will not be washed away without an investigation, credit reporting agencies will "freeze" these items from impacting your credit score, or showing up on reports. This way if you were to apply for a loan or something like that, during this time, the fraudulent items in your credit history will not hurt your approval odds.
  4. Be aware of your basic rights. If you have a general understanding of what your credit card company can and can't do, you will be better equipped to fight back against questionable practices. Knowing your rights can help you avoid getting into scenarios where credit card issues arise. The CARD Act of 2009 and the Truth in Lending Act are two of the largest pieces of legislation governing consumer credit rights. They forbid things such as misleading advertisements, exuberant interest rates, and excessive fees. More thorough lists and summaries of protections under the law are available in abundance online.