No News Is Good News
For many credit card holders, no news from their credit card providers is good news. However, there are instances when it is necessary to contact a credit card provider or a credit reference agency. In such instances, it is usually better to act sooner rather than later. Providing clear explanations and thorough documentation can increase the likelihood of achieving satisfactory results from your communication.
Lost or Stolen Credit Cards
Realizing that your credit card has been lost or stolen can trigger panic. However, panic is not a useful reaction. Instead, your first move should be to contact the credit card provider so that your missing card can be cancelled and a new card issued. You should also contact each of the three major credit reference agencies immediately Experian, Equifax and Call Credit. When you contact the credit reference agencies, explain the situation and ask that a credit alert be placed in your file.
If there is evidence of fraud, you should also file a criminal report with the police. You might also consider paying for extra protection. Protective registration is a service offered through the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance Scheme (CIFAS) through Equifax. Protective registration places a note on your address that advises lenders to require additional information such as proof of identification when they receive a credit application from someone claiming to be you.
Correcting Billing Errors
Credit card billing errors not only cost you money, they can also have an adverse effect on your credit rating. Try to correct billing related errors by contacting credit card providers directly. By law, the provider must correct any errors and contact the credit reporting agencies that received credit reports that contained the error within twenty-eight days. If contacting your credit card providers does not yield satisfactory results, contact each credit reporting agency directly and ask for a review of your file. If the credit reporting agency fails to correct errors to your satisfaction, you have the right to include a two-hundred word â€œNotice of Correctionâ€ that explains your side of the dispute. This message must be included with any credit report that the credit reporting agency sends out to banks and other potential lenders.
Rate Jacking and Other Credit Provider Misdeeds
One day, your credit card interest rate is set a competitive level. The next day, you receive a notice that your interest rates are being increased by double digits. You have just experienced rate jacking. By law, credit card providers are required to provide you with sixty days notice to accept or reject any proposed credit interest rate hikes. However, if you reject the rate hike, you must pay off your balance in full to close the account, either right away or within what the law calls a reasonable period of time. If you have the option, you can effectively prevent rate jacking by transferring any credit card balance to a new credit card with a low or zero percent interest rate.
Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) can be beneficial, but it is also optional. However, many credit card providers misled their customers into believing that PPI was mandatory. In August 2013, the Financial Conduct Authority reached settlement agreements with several credit card providers throughout the United Kingdom to repay customers who had been fraudulently informed by credit card providers. If you are in this position, contact your credit card provider to request a refund.
Negative order of payment is another unscrupulous practice by many credit card providers that is designed to increase the overall amount that consumers must pay. With negative order of payment, credit card providers apply any payments you make to your smallest transactions, leaving larger ticket transactions to collect interest for a longer period of time. This practice has been banned in the UK; however, some credit card providers still engage in this questionable practice. If your credit card provider is guilty, you may wish to close your account.
Closing Your Account
If you have decided that you no longer wish to do business with a particular credit card company, you may wish to formally contact the provider to close your account. Simply leaving the account open can be problematic for two reasons. First, other lenders may consider your account as additional potential debt and when considering whether to extend credit to you. Second, some credit card providers penalize account holders for so-called â€œdormantâ€ accounts with reduced credit limits, applied fees or both. Such actions also have an adverse effect on your credit report and your credit score.
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