I was an American Express cardholder in good standing since 1974. In late 2006, I had a number of personal problems (Dad with severe Alzheimer's disease, Mom had a stroke, and company I worked for filed bankruptcy.) I ended up up anxiety attacks and depression and was unable to work for three months for which I had to pay COBRA insurance rates to cover my family. I had to cover a lot of costs for instrumental care for my parents. I couldn't pay my American Express amount due of $2,300 which I had charged up with airplane tickets, renting cars and hotels, etc while trying to care for my parents. I offered to pay what I could but the rude customer representative would have nothing to do with it. I did pay $300 for two months anyway and was finally able to pay the amount due in full when I returned to work - 90 days late(except for the $300 payments which accounted for nothing to Amex) American Express cancelled my card. OK, I can live with that. They continued to send me my statements and I continued to pay on the Sign and Travel portion of the card for the last three and a half years on time and often more or double the amount due gradually reducing the balance. They had originally increased my interest rate to 27%. I was able to get it reduced to 15.5% and then 9.9%.
This year, my husband and I tried to buy a townhouse and sell our large family home. We were unable to get a mortgage because of one adverse American Express report of a Collection Account to the credit bureaus.
I had never been notified that this was a Collection Account, I received no collection calls or letters. I receive my statement every month saying "Past Due amount $0, Balance: $1,800 (or whatever it is), and Amount due: $45". I continued to pay off the debt in the best way I could and on-time. The first I knew it was a Collection Account was on the credit bureau report when we applied for a loan. Since a number of other items were incorrect (including a "Collection" that didn't belong to us) on the credit reports, I thought "Collection Account" was incorrect as well.
I wrote certified letters to American Express and to the credit bureaus stating that American Express was not in collection and was being paid, but was delinquent in 2006. I was paying on time and as agreed since that time. What a nightmare trying to contact or get information from these companies. I talked to a number of very rude customer service reps from other countries whom I could not understand and would not give me information unless I purchased credit reporting packages. American Express never responded to my letters. When my mortgage was denied, I called the American Express credit bureau number again. I was rudely told, "You have called about this before, why are you calling again?" (Could it be because my future is in your hands?) When I asked why they were reporting using the derogatory term "Collection Account". I was told it was an "internal collection" and "All cancelled accounts are collection accounts, everybody knows that." Well, I didn't know that. I asked them if they could at least report the payment history so it doesn't look like I'm just not paying this bill. I was told, "American Express doesn't do that, we only report the outstanding balance" They report as "Past due since July 2006." - with no indication of my payment history.
The customer service representative at the AMEX credit bureau was extremely rude. I think she took lessons from the woman I dealt within 2006. They would do nothing to indicate that I have been paying off this card. "We can't help you. That's our policy." Even if I paid off the balance in full - the negative Collection Account notation would remain on credit report for 4 more years and I have heard that paying it off can actually lower your credit score.
I worked for a large company that got federal and state government bail-outs, filed for bankruptcy and caused thousands of employees to lose their jobs and incomes. Today, their executives are treated like wonderboys for pulling it off. Now, I am dealing with a credit card company that took TARP funds to bail themselves out. The penalty? Executives get a "verbal lashing" from Congress for their tactics in dealing with credit consumers. Yet, no one is willing to give me the tiniest break.
American Express is unwilling to honor my small request and report that my account was delinquent in 2006 but has been paid on-time and as agreed since then.
Americans should rally and protest their treatment by the credit card companies, banks and credit bureaus. Fair Issac my eye! There is NOTHING fair about these organizations.