Folks, it's a smart move to check your credit report at least once a year. The government now makes the 3 major credit bureaus give you a free check one time a year and it's pretty simple to do,,,except for Transunion's,,, you need account numbers and practically your mamma's, mamma's, birthday and birth weight to get at their report. (I personally think they do this so you'll throw up your hands and have a tantrum before finally giving up).
Anyhow, the reason I'm suggesting this fine idea, is because whilst doing the annual check of our credit worthiness I found 2 potentially negative items on the report from the Experian agency that hadn't been there when I checked last year. They have this little button you can click if you disagree with their information and they're supposed to investigate and correct their mistakes, etc...
I'm not sure how much time or effort they spend on research in order to make corrections but I'm here to tell ya, it's best to skip that little step cause it takes them about a month to do their "investigation" and apparently they don't do much during that period of time cause when I finally got the results, nothing had changed and I knew something smelly was going on in regards to those 2 potentially negative items.
So, I got out my magnifying glasses and tracked over to the Original Creditor section of the Experian report and see where both of the items in question originate from Helena Regional Medical Center.
"AH-HA", says I, " I know we haven't used the services of these fine folks since they garnished our bank account for someone else's bill back in 2002, so let's see what those crooked scoundrels have been up to now."
So, I called them and reached a lady named Brenda first, who knew nothing because none of the relevant information came up on her computer screen, so I'm transferred over to Ken in the financial office. I gave Ken the two account numbers in question and asked him about the services we supposedly received because we'd never actually been in his hospital on those dates and we'd also never been billed for the invisible services that were showing up on our credit report.
First we verified the last 4 digits of the social and that matched.
"Hmmm", says I. "So, who was this patient who received these emergency room services?"
"Mr. SoandSo received treatment", says Ken.
"Ahhh, it so happens that Mr. SoandSo is not a member of our household, I don't know who Mr. SoandSo is, where he lives, or anything else about Mr. SoandSo, and something fishy is going on since Mr. SoandSo has the same social security number as my husband", says I. "What billing address do you have on record for Mr. SoandSo"?
Ken informed me right quick that he wasn't allowed to share that piece of information with me.
"Then let me give you our address and you can check to see if it's the same as Mr. SoandSo", I suggested.
After I gave him my address Ken says, "Oh,,,Ok,,I think there's been a mistake here somewhere."
"Oh yes, Ken, that just happens to the the exact reason for my call", says I. "And since you're all up in this little matter of correcting mistakes, let me give you the other account number, again, and you can fix that error too."
After giving Ken the second account number, again, he proceeds to tell me that those charges came from the emergency room Doctor's billing service and it had nothing to do with them.
"How is this so", says I? "It's a charge from your emergency room doctor and he gets his patient billing address and other information from you, right?"
Ken agreed that indeed the information came from the hospital and he quickly agreed that there'd been some mistakes and he'd call me back after he got everything corrected.
5 hours later he called and said everything had been fixed but it would take at least 30 to 45 days for the information to be corrected by the credit bureaus. He did promise to send me a letter with the results of the investigation, so if it wasn't corrected by then, I'd have something to prove the charges weren't ours.
Now all I can do is wait to see if it's done.
It's scary folks, and it's sad, but it's a good idea to keep an eye out for this stuff.
And it sure can make you cranky to deal with it!