Out & About

Credit due

I crossed something off my to-do list last week and got my credit report online for $9. Who would have guessed I have $26,169 in available credit in my name alone? That’s bad. But canceling credit cards is like breaking up with a psycho lover. They always want to know, “Why? Why are you leaving me?” Here are some highlights.

1. According to Equifax, I have “no employment history on file.” My address is, apparently, “39 N.” Yeah, I trust this system.

2. It is a huge pain to cancel a credit card if you don’t have the account number. My best advice is to punctuate each curse word by banging on the “0” key until you get a real person.

3. Sometimes a company doesn’t have a record of your having a card, or the account is already closed, but it’s still showing up on your credit report. This was the case with three of our cards (dating back to 1994), and the kind lady at Casual Corner told me to write to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, P.O. Box 103065, Roswell, GA, 30076-9065.

4. Worry about privacy. While most places asked for my Social Security number, Bank of America actually let me cancel my husband’s card without his account number or say-so. Gottschalks (which had a record nine-minute hold time) and MBNA made him get on the line.

5. The company that had the most trouble accepting our breakup was Discover. The representative was thick in the denial phase, asking me three times if I wouldn’t stay for 0 percent interest on balance transfers. Second place goes to MBNA, where I just wanted to lower my credit limit from $13,700 to $3,000. “You won’t have any money for emergencies,” the lady warned me. Pier 1 offered me a 20 percent coupon if I’d stay with them. “Hey,” I said, “it’s not you, it’s me.”

6. At Lerner, which is now owned by the Limited, I got the friendliest voice of all. That’s because it’s the same person who’s recorded on my cell phone menu! It felt as cozy as if I were cursing at the Time Lady.

7. The award for "best affirmation" goes to Bank of America, where a voice piped up every minute: "We care about your call. We appreciate your business." At 21 percent interest, they’d better.