Utilities - In Collections to Paid

Discussion in 'Credit Talk' started by pesuto, Jul 13, 2010.

  1. pesuto

    pesuto New Member

    Hello Creditnet!

    A few months ago I moved apartments within the same city (different zip code). In the midst of moving, I tried to change service addresses with the utility company. Long story short, the new location was serviced by another company and so I asked to close my account (2/12/10). Over the phone (not good!), I asked if the account was current and whether or not I owed anything, to which the CSR replied that everything was up to date and that I was set. I provided a forwarding address and the utility company already had my phone and e-mail on file (having signed up through their website around 3/1/08).

    Fast forward 4 months later and I notice through my credit monitoring service a new account by the original utility company was reported by Experian (6/8/10) with $39 outstanding as "in collections". As soon as I was alerted, I paid the amount directly through the utility's website (6/10), which may have been a mistake... This month I noticed my Experian score took a 100 point hit from 749 to 649! My TU and EQ scores remain in good standing, but holy mole that is a big hit for a measly $38!

    As soon as I saw my EX score take that hit, I contacted the utility's billing department via their website and through the phone. I asked over the phone whether or not they could help, to which I only received the reply that a "Paid in Full" letter would be provided to me. Through e-mail, the utility replied that as I had paid off the balance, the account status had changed from Charge Off or Unpaid Collection to Paid Charge Off on 6/10.

    The problem, from my point of view, is that I hadn't received any type of notification regarding the account's standing and the issue was only brought to my attention through my credit monitoring service. I don't dispute that the balance is mine, but I had given my forwarding address at the time I had cut off service and the utility already had my phone and e-mail, yet I received no notification. I was told by the CSR over the phone that the bill had been sent to my old service address :(

    I'd really appreciate some advice on this matter as I am just finally clearing up my credit after having trashed it in my youth. I'm also concerned about this utility bill impacting my other scores as I probably need to take out a loan to go back to school full time in the near future. Thank you all in advance for your help.
  2. JoshuaHeckathorn

    JoshuaHeckathorn Administrator

    Welcome to the forum pesuto.

    Hearing these types of stories really infuriates me. It sounds like you tried to do everything right, and yet you were still jacked by this utility company over $38.

    Unfortunately, a "paid" charge off is basically just as damaging to your credit score as an "unpaid" charge off, and I don't see a lot of options for you since you've already paid it off. And yes, according to FICO, a 30-day late pay could shave off about 90-110 points for someone that already has a credit score in the upper 700s. Add a charge-off and a collection to the mix, and you've got a real mess on your hands over less than 50 bucks.

    Do you know if they sold this debt to the CA, or was the CA just collecting on their behalf? Since the utility company took your payment, I'm assuming they just had a CA collecting on their behalf.

    At this point, I think your only chance is to keep fighting with the utility company over this. Call them, write them, and explain the circumstances while begging that they help you out and change how they're reporting to the CRAs since this was a misunderstanding. The don't have to do anything, as it seems like the debt was valid and what they're currently reporting is correct, but you may get lucky.

    Good luck, and please come back to let us know how things play out for you.
  3. pesuto

    pesuto New Member

    Thanks for your reply JoshuaHeckathorn,

    From what I can gather through my credit monitoring service, a CA wasn't involved. I might have misunderstood the Experian entry, but the contact address references the utility company's office. Maybe the utility company has their own internal CA? It's a pretty big utility company after all.

    And yes, the utility company took my payment as I had a direct transfer processed through their website and not through any type of intermediary, CA or otherwise.

    As for contacting the utility company, I've already received a few replies through e-mail to the effect of not being able to do anything except sending a paid in full letter. The two different people I've been in correspondence keep hammering in that 7 year impact too... I feel like I'm dealing with robots without compassion that won't budge to understand the case.

    If I dispute the entry with EX and the utility company confirms the debt is valid within the 30 days, am I left with any other choices or have I forfeited all courses of action due to my acknowledgement and payment of the debt? Finally, the CSRs from the utility company have suggested I write EX explaining why I was late (seems like an almost form letter). Is this suggestion a dead end route or does a CRA like EX ever demonstrate some understanding?

    Again, thanks for your help and any others that can add in. I really appreciate it :)
  4. Hedwig

    Hedwig Well-Known Member

    The CRA isn't going to accept the documentation from you if the creditor says it's valid.

    Try going to the executive office at the utility. A letter, not an e-mail.

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