Dear Penny: An Error Killed My 800 Credit Score. How Do I Fix It?
Dear Penny, Recently, my husband and I looked into refinancing our mortgage and discovered that my credit score, which had been well above 800, had dipped to the high 600s. The reason: A debt collection agency reported that we failed to pay a bill to our children's pediatrician.  I started receiving calls from this agency […] This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Dear Penny,

Just recently, my partner and I looked into refinancing our mortgage and found that my credit rating, which had been well above 800, had actually dipped to the high 600 s. The factor: A debt collector reported that we stopped working to pay a bill to our children's pediatrician.

I began getting calls from this company in late 2019.

Lastly in April 2020, they sent a letter asking me to call them over an allegedly overdue $90 bill to the pediatrician.

They said they would inform the debt collector, however I don't know if that ever occurred. I emailed the collection agency right away to notify them that the pediatrician had actually validated that I didn't owe them anything, and asked for verification if they still believed that there was an outstanding debt.

Quick forward to October 2020, and I learnt the financial obligation debt collector has tanked my credit history. I have actually striven over the last 20 years to build excellent credit. Needless to state, I was not happy that such a small debt that I didn't even owe triggered such damage. What can I do to fix my credit?

- D.

Dear D.,

How frustrating that after 20 years of doing everything right, your credit history took a hit because of someone else's mistake. Sadly, this is a typical problem. About 1 in 5 credit reports are estimated to contain mistakes. Lots of people do not discover that their reports are among them up until they're looking for a funding choice.

Fortunately is, this ought to be easily repaired. The pediatrician's workplace admits this was a mistake. If you just found the error in October, they might have already taken the appropriate steps to fix it but your credit reports do not yet reflect it.

Your initial step is to get a free copy of your credit reports from all 3 bureaus at You won't see your credit history on your authorities reports, but you'll discover all the information used to compute your scores.

Then, call the physician's office once again to follow up. If they have actually informed the bureaus or the debt collection agency, ask to forward you the correspondence. Request that they copy you on any communications they have moving forward.

If they haven't done anything? Try to stay calm. Mistakes happen, and the person on the phone may not be the person accountable. Be sure to highlight that this mistake is interfering with your refinancing. A $90 mix-up may not seem especially immediate to somebody who didn't just see their credit rating drop by over 100 points.

When you validate what steps they have actually taken-- or will take-- ask for a declaration validating that this expense was sent to collections by mistake.

You can submit your conflict through However I 'd think about doing it by means of signed up mail rather. That method you can confirm that your dispute has been gotten. Consist of a copy of your credit report with the contested info highlighted. Send out any statement you're able to get from the physician's office to the collection agency via registered mail.

Generally, credit bureaus have 30 to 45 days to examine disputes. Given that there's no question about whether you owe this money, they may have the ability to resolve it quicker. If they don't react within 45 days, you should file a problem with the Customer Financial Protection Bureau.

There is one option that might speed things up if this is holding up your refinance called a rapid rescoring. Generally, a lending institution can offer brand-new details to the bureaus and get them to accelerate the process of upgrading your reports. Only a loan provider can request a fast rescoring in your place, and not all loan providers use the option.

Otherwise, it will take a while and most likely a few headaches on your part to get this fixed. However it will be worth the effort as soon as you have actually restored your credit report to that beautiful 800- plus status.

Robin Hartill is a qualified monetary planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. Send your difficult cash questions to [email protected]

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