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My Credit Score Dropped 100 pts - Here's how I plan to protect and repair my credit.

Well, it has happened. My credit score has dropped. Not only dropped but nose-dived. My credit score dropped 100 pts. Now, I'm on a mission to repair my credit.

Here’s how it happened. 

I have what I like to call a ‘ghost’ credit card from Capital One, and I became delinquent on the account after not paying the bill for two months. This is a card I never use; in fact, I don’t even have the physical card anymore, and it’s been locked for at least a year. So, I never have any payments due without any charges on the card. Except for the annual fee of 39 dollars.

Now, I avoid most cards with a monthly fee unless the benefits outweigh the fee, like my Delta Skymiles card. But this Quicksilver Capital One card earns its keep because it is my oldest credit line. It has no purpose outside of that.

So, how did it become two months delinquent, and how didn’t I notice?

Well, I’ll start by saying it was a miracle I just happened to find out when I did. I honestly could have gone several more months without looking at this account. So, to fully explain how this happened, I will take you back to May 2023, which kicked off the catalyst that dropped my credit score today. If you want to skip the background and learn how to protect your credit click here to skip to my recommendations.

Let’s go back to May 2023.

It’s a regular day, and I check my daily emails and see an email from Capital One Creditwise informing me there has been an update reported on my credit report. I log in to find that my 812 credit score has decreased by 5 points due to an inquiry on my report. Creditwise informs me that a lender xxx bank’ has pulled my credit report for an application.

I am noting that I haven’t applied for anything. I quickly google this bank because Creditwise has provided nothing except the bank name and state, and I found a random 1-800 number and called to inquire. Turns out someone has applied for a credit card using my SSN and name. I immediately report it as fraud and spiraling.

That same morning I got a call from Bank of America asking if I applied for a card. Which I deny, and now my stomach is turning because I know something is wrong. The Bank of America agent informed me that they will monitor my account, but I should call the three credit bureaus and freeze access to my credit report.

So, I’ll save the whole run around and summary here:

  • Over the next week, I found out there were three more pending inquiries (turns out different banks pull from different bureaus, and Creditwise only monitors one of them) 

  • I report all the three random inquiries as fraud

  • I froze my credit report with the bureaus and continued monitoring my account via Creditwise.

  • I found out that one of my email addresses has been compromised as well

  • I proceed to switch all my passwords and emails to my newest email address

Here’s my big mistake

  • I forgot to change the Capital One card - the one that kicked all this off to my new email

  • Fast forward to September - the annual fee hits my account

  • October - the bank must be contacting me via email (only for some reason) and one month goes by without payment, and a 25 late fee and interest are added

  • November - the account is now two months delinquent, and a 40 fee is added, plus interest

  • The balance on a $39 fee plus interest and late fees is now $106

  • Capital One then reports my account as delinquent to Experian (Experian emails me constantly with trash emails and things I don’t care about, so I am desensitized to anything they send)

  • Occasionally, they send emails that have something to do with my credit score increasing or decreasing - the most recent chain of emails look something like this:

  • Your score has increased

  • Your score has increased

  • Your credit line has been increased

  • The one that caught my attention read: “Your credit has gone from exceptional to good.”

Both words have a positive connotation, but good feels ominously like ‘subpar’ regarding credit. Then, I searched for the super secure password I made for these credit bureaus to determine what this means. I log in (after having to get through them trying to sell me an upgrade) I see my score has dropped 100+ points from 812 to 706.

How this impacted me emotionally

I was initially super bummed out. After having a score in the 800s for years, the thought that one mistake could cause this much of a drop had me spinning. Then, I had to level with myself. 

1. This was my fault, although the circumstances weren’t my fault with my ssn being compromised but the results of me changing and closing my email were my choice, and I should have either closed the account I wasn’t using or at least kept it top of mind to check at least monthly.

2. I’m lucky enough not to need credit for anything in the immediate future. I’m not planning to buy any property or anything requiring me to have an ‘exceptional’ credit score. I have money to buy whatever I need without using credit.

3. My credit score doesn’t define me or my financial picture. While I am working toward growing my finances, I am actively avoiding debt, so credit lines and more debt should NOT be what I am prioritizing anyway.

Anyway, I just thought I would share my story in case it helps anyone else struggling with credit and credit scores and feeling down about their finances.

Precautions to take to protect and repair your credit

Here are some key takeaways for anyone dealing with identity theft, fraud, credit repair, or score issues

  1. Have at least one credit monitoring system - preferably one that doesn’t spam you with emails so you know it is worth looking into when you hear from them. Creditwise has a simple interface and is way less spammy than Experian. It was also one of the reasons I kept that ‘ghost’ credit card around for so long. I have also heard that Credit Karma can be useful when monitoring your credit report.

  2. Close any unmonitored accounts or accounts you don’t use - trust me. The hit you take from closing an old account is nothing compared to the hit you’ll take from being reported delinquent. 🙂

  3. Call the credit card company - I was able to call the credit card company and explain my situation so we could work through something. They removed the late fees and were able to report to the credit bureaus that my account was now current. Whether or not this will repair my score remains to be seen, but hey, it’s something! You can do the same. There are options to work out payment plans, reverse fees, and even repair your credit.

  4. If your accounts or SSN have been compromised, there’s not much you can do to stop someone from using your information- one of the learnings from this is that if you have a compromised SSN, you will forever have a compromised SSN. Luckily I was able to catch things and most companies declined the suspicious applications before any cards were approved or sent out. But I’ve found you can’t get a new SSN(at least easily), and you can’t close your credit report or get a new one. You can contest the fraudulent activity and place an alert - something that tells the bank or company deciding to issue the credit that there is possible fraud and they should take an extra step in verification or place a freeze - which will block banks or companies from having access to your credit report to even decide whether they should lend to you.

  5. Do your due diligence with changing passwords and logins - we live in tech overload, and it’s so easy to just use the same old password for every login or account, which seems to be everything nowadays. However, there is technology available like password managers to help, place reminders to change passwords, and even simpler, enabling MFA or multi-factor authentication can provide an extra layer of security.

  6. If you have password overload like me, a password manager like Google or Apple can help you keep track.

  7. If you are trying to build your credit back - remember this is a game you want to play only if you need to. There is so much power in having your credit score and going into debt being your backup plan. If it’s a backup plan or not a plan at all, then it doesn’t matter. Your credit score can be whatever it wants, and you can continue living life and getting financial freedom while you build it back up.

Author's note: As of posting this blog, I am happy to share that my credit has now bounced back into the 800 range! If you aren't already, subscribe for the next article, where I post an update of how I got it to bounce back!

If you haven’t already, download the free budgeting spreadsheet here.

If you want to move past being just a piece in the credit score hunger games and get your finances together, I have a budgeting course to help people interested in going from debt to 100k. Check it out here.

Thanks for reading!

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