Credit Problems Don't Have to Be a Dirty Little Secret

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In the course of writing my book, I met a number of people with perfectly good credit who felt ashamed about their inability to clean up the dirty data contained in their credit reports. I was amazed to learn how many consumers were embarrassed to discuss their credit matters, even when they weren't to blame for their contaminated credit. As Debra from CT wrote,

"...I never bring up the subject of my credit problems for fear that people will think I'm a deadbeat and don't pay my bills on time. It's embarrassing enough when we're denied credit due to credit errors, but to talk about it to someone other than somebody like you who understands it, it's just too shameful. Hopefully what you are doing will help to remove the stigma that is placed on this topic, so people will feel free to openly talk about the problems within the credit industry and bring about much needed change."

Debra's letter points to a prevalent issue - there is a real stigma associated with having credit problems. While people who have been victims of identity theft have no problem sharing their nightmarish stories, those who have been victims of inaccurate credit reporting never feel comfortable discussing their stories. Their fear of being viewed as "dead-beats," along with concerns about being blamed or shamed, forces them to suffer in silence. And, this lack of consumer action further masks the enormity of the systemic problems within the credit reporting industry.

I learned that Debra's fear of being stigmatized if she spoke of her troubling credit issues was quite common. Everywhere I went, I heard similar tales from waitresses, nurses, friends, store clerks, secretaries, hairdressers, dry cleaners, neighbors and complete strangers relating to their inability to find help cleaning up credit messes they didn't create. Their credit nightmare stories weren't new to me, but what struck me was the universality of the feelings they shared, for example:

- Their shame and embarrassment about credit problems they didn't cause

- Their feeling that they were alone and no one could understand what they were going through

- Their lack of awareness of the many on-line communities and advocacy groups they could turn to for guidance and support

- Their enthusiastic response to being able to speak freely about their problems once they discovered that I understood how they felt, having been in their shoes myself

- Their willingness to support change within the system and their desire to learn steps to prevent further credit damage from occurring in their lives

- Their relief when they realized they didn't have to feel ashamed, guilty or humiliated about their inaccurate credit problems

For those battling credit reporting errors, feeling shame about their predicament only adds insult to injury, causing them to remain silent, instead of placing the blame where it really belongs. If consumers' voices continue to be silenced due to the stigma associated with credit problems, the systemic problems within the industry will remain hidden as well.

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A memoir exposing the steep price consumers pay when facing mortgage servicing errors, inaccurate credit reporting, illegal debt collection practices, identity theft and weak consumer protection laws. THE BOOK » DENISE'S STORY »