When You Get Told “You Need to Contact The Credit Bureau”

Good morning George! I listen to you every Wednesday and I hope you can help! We returned from Arizona on March 15th and went into mandatory quarantine. We addressed a ton of mail after 4 months, during that time my RBC(Westjet)credit card had renewed and I had numerous letters from RBC concerning payment. Two weeks ago was the first opportunity to go into my bank to pay the full amount as I never had my RBC on my online banking.

I have always had a strong credit rating in the 800’s on my credit score. I was shocked to see my credit score now was dropped to 721 due to this one bill. I have spoken to numerous contacts within RBC and all they do is point me to the credit bureau. Due to their reduced hours/staff I have been unable to get thru to them. I feel under these circumstances it is really unfair and wondering if you can assist me in any way.    N.B.

Thanks for the email, N.B. While I understand your disappointment and frustration, reporting your missed payments to the credit bureau was factual and correct. Yes, there are always reasons, but you were past due.

It’s a common question, so let’s go through three things:

Read the chapter of the Money Tools book on credit reporting, the impact on your credit score and how to deal with it and/or fix it. A great credit score such as his, with one past due plummets it by about a hundred points – as N.B. pointed out. It’ll come back within a couple of years and it’s still good enough to not impact him that much. I call this a stupid fee: Almost a hundred bucks in late fees is a reasonably cheap lesson.

You need to make a minimum payment or 31 days later the lenders’ computer tells the credit bureau – period. It takes less than 10 seconds to set any bill up online. Whether it’s travel, missing statement, forgetting, or whatever – none of that matters. I have a small chart that I use every month with the bill and the due date. Mortgage 27th, tax 30th, utilities 8th, Amex 10th, etc. to make sure I never forget – ever.

Now to what the Royal is telling you, which is that you need to deal with the credit bureau on this. It’s a big fat lie that every lender from banks to credit card companies to GMAC, Ford Credit – literally everybody uses. It’s a quick way to shift blame. It’s a lie. Who told the credit bureau that you were late? Right – it was the Royal. So they’re telling you to go to the people who just note down the information and not the people who told them to do it!

In this case, the Royal Bank computer downloads every card holders information for the month: The credit limit, balance on your statement, last payment made or not made and the amount, and whether the account is up to date, a month, two months, etc. in arrears. The two credit bureaus take the information and file it on your account that other lenders can now access and see.

When the Royal told you to call the credit bureau they knew they were lying to you. But it worked – you went away and tried to contact the bureau. Bad news: The odds of reaching them are zero – most of their staff is in India and you’re dealing with companies that don’t care and can’t help you. They didn’t do the damage as I explained, and you’re not their customer: Their customers are lenders, landlords, bonding agencies, etc. who purchase their credit reports.

If there is factually incorrect information on your file, then it’s the credit bureau who needs to fix it. If you have a car loan on there and you don’t owe money on a car, if you have a collection showing up that isn’t yours, or stuff from an identity theft, that is the responsibility of the credit bureau to fix and/or remove by law. That’s the case for around 25% of files and the reason to check your report at least every couple of years.

It was accurately reported by the Royal. The only way to get them to have a heart and forgive and forget this one mistake is for the Royal to fix their computer. It can be done if you are a valued client with lots of business with them. Tell them it’s a one-time error and ask them to remove it or you’ll take your business elsewhere. In this case, N.B. only has the credit card with the Royal and isn’t likely to have a chance of getting it removed.

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