- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

Last week, I shared a personal story about my credit report. I applied for a home-equity loan and was denied because my credit score was too low. After pulling my report through my own company, I found out that TransUnion LLC (one of the three national credit repositories) had incorrect information under my Social Security number, mixing me up with someone else who happened to have terrible credit.

In short, I only received special attention to get the problem solved after I asked the representative in the call center to transfer me to the media relations department because I was planning to share my unfortunate story in this column.

By the time last week’s column was due, I’d had several conversations with top executives who assured me my credit report would be back to normal by the next day and my TransUnion credit score would reflect my true credit history.

I’m happy to say that my report was 100 percent correct by noon the next day. I received calls from the top people who suggested I pull my own report to make sure I was satisfied. I then received an e-mail for my records from an executive of TransUnion explaining that the incident was a TransUnion error that has been rectified.

Mistakes happen and I have to admit that once I was able to talk to the right people, they cleared up the problem right away.

I think it’s important to share some lessons with readers and offer some advice in case something like this happens. As an owner of a mortgage company for more than 17 years, I have heard dozens of stories from borrowers and would-be borrowers who claim their credit history is incorrect on their credit report and that they can’t seem to get it cleared up with the particular credit bureau. I am forced to tell these folks that, although I sympathize with their plight, I cannot help them because it’s not my credit. They must deal with the bureaus themselves.

I shared this information with the executive who helped me with my report. Here’s my recollection of what he advised:

Since these bureaus have about 300 million Social Security numbers, mistakes can occur. If a problem isn’t solved through a representative in the call center, the consumer should ask to speak with a supervisor. He told me that my situation fell apart because the representative should have recognized my problem was one requiring supervisory help.

Many of the inefficiencies in the system are a result of the fact that credit fraud is a big problem. I think the words used by the TransUnion executive were something like this: “It’s hard to make everything 100 percent accurate when so many people are lying to you.” This made me chuckle, but I understand how that would be a problem.

If consumers feel that they are hitting a roadblock, they should insist upon speaking with a supervisor. He pointed out that his company is the only bureau where a consumer can speak to a human being. Whether or not that is true I have no idea, or perhaps I misunderstood him.

While my situation was quickly resolved, the question remains in my head whether it would have been solved so quickly had I not been able to pull my own report and claim my status as a published columnist who wants to share the story.

At any rate, it can get ugly. My company holds several state licenses to conduct mortgage business. Prior to my credit report being corrected, I received a call from my insurance agent who told me the companies that hold my surety bonds, which are necessary to keep my licenses in good standing, are threatening to cancel the bonds because they pulled my report and saw that my score was too low.

This would have spelled disaster for me. Luckily, Trans-Union jumped on the problem and fixed it. As I said, mistakes happen. Let’s hope other folks who are victims of a mistake also receive a quick and permanent fix.

Henry Savage is president of PMC Mortgage in Alexandria. Reach him by e-mail at [email protected]

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