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Think Twice about Chucking that Letter from Your Credit Issuer


I’ve become somewhat of an expert mail sorter over the years. It’s almost like I’ve developed a robotic sixth sense for detecting worthless mail at first glance. I pull out a stack that weighs 5 pounds from the mailbox, sit it on the counter, and in less than 60 seconds I walk away with a few more wedding invitations in hand and a healthy contribution of unopened junk mail for the shredder.

I must admit I get duped from time to time. Those letters that really look like they’re from your mortgage company and say “Time-Sensitive Documents Enclosed” are my worst enemy. For a split second they always cause me to hesitate and lose focus. Inside I really want to open them to see if they’re for real, but my sixth-sense tells me “Don’t waste your time – it’s just another ad!” I cave in on occasion and risk another painful papercut to appease my curiosity. I’m usually disappointed.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to devote extra time lately to this daily process because we should all be thinking twice about throwing away any unopened letters from our lenders or credit card companies. In this recessionary climate, it’s a well-known fact that credit card companies and home lenders are taking drastic measures to tighten the reins on consumers and minimize their exposure to risk. That letter you are throwing away might be notifying you of a large interest rate hike, a reduced credit limit, or a home equity line that will be canceled. You might expect them to notify you by email as well, but that’s not always the case. An actual letter is often required by law.  Here's a little anecdote to help you sift through the credit card mail and find what's actually important:

Credit card advice

I received one the other day from Citibank for a credit card I’ve had for a long time, but rarely use. It had a sizable credit limit, I’ve never missed a payment, always paid the balance in full, and still used it from time to time. Obviously not often enough. Citibank said they wanted to help me “better manage my credit accounts”, so they closed the account due to inactivity. Thanks a lot Citibank! So thoughtful of you. My east-coast sarcasm should be shining through right now.

So, if you have mad mail sorting skills too and can fly through a huge stack in under 60 seconds, I suggest training your eye to catch anything that could possibly be from your lenders or credit issuers. Take a few minutes to read the letters and make sure you understand what’s going on with your accounts. If you’re unhappy about the new conditions or an account closure, pick up the phone, give them a call, and ask to speak to a supervisor who has authority to make changes to your terms. You may be surprised how much you can actually accomplish when making a reasonable request to the right person.

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Joshua Heckathorn's picture

Joshua Heckathorn was President of Creditnet, is a credit expert and has been featured on CNNMoney, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, The Street, and many other national publications during the past ten years.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Management (Finance) from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business and earned his MBA from Seattle University.

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