My dad's unpaid bills tanked my credit — here's how I fixed it

Dan Nainan / LearnVest Dan Nainan, 34, is a comedian in New York City.

When it comes to finances, I consider myself pretty savvy.

I pay my bills on time, live well within my means — and every 12 months or so, I call up my credit card company to request a limit increase. It's one of the best strategies I know for maintaining a healthy credit score.

So you can imagine my shock when my request for a credit increase was declined a year ago. After all, I had no outstanding bills or delinquent accounts — or so I thought.

After pulling my free credit report — something I hadn't done in about a year — I discovered a handful of unpaid bills that had indeed been sent to collections. They were worth only a few hundred dollars, but clearly that was enough to impact my ability to extend my credit line.

The good news: I discovered the charges weren't mine. The bad news: They belonged to my father, whose name is very similar.

I brought it up to him, showing him the accounts, which he more or less waved off. He's an old-school, stubborn type who felt that the charges — cable and medical bills — were unfair to begin with, so he just never paid them.

The fact that they wound up on my credit report wasn't intentional, but I needed to fix the issue — and quickly.

Since the erroneous bills only showed up on my Experian report, I wrote them a letter, politely pointing out the problem. I included my name and Social Security

number, along with my father's, to show the distinction. I also explained that I don't even live in Maryland, which is where the accounts originated.

I also sent it via certified mail, and requested a return receipt so I could prove it was received. About two months later I was notified via mail that the accounts had been removed from my credit report.

Almost instantly my credit score skyrocketed from 720 to 800, where it's stayed ever since. I was thrilled to have my spotless credit history restored — and I'm now more committed than ever to closely monitoring my reports to help ensure there are no future mix-ups.

The best part is that being so diligent about my credit doesn't cost me a dime, since I can pull a free credit report from each bureau every year.

In the end, I feel lucky that all it took to erase my problem was a letter and a postage stamp.

LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. Unless specifically identified as such, the individuals interviewed or quoted in this piece are neither clients, employees nor affiliates of LearnVest Planning Services, and the views expressed are their own. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.


Category: Credit

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