Reason for Dispute: My Name Is Not Angel Polentino

Yesterday I checked all three of my credit scores, which I’ve done before but always immediately forgotten the number because it’s so boring—”It’s green,” I remarked to myself, “and I believe that means you’re done for the day.”

But yesterday the three numbers were different—the highest and lowest were 167 points apart—and two of them were not green at all. One was on the anemic lime portion of the miniature credit spectrum. Another was straight-up yellow, and the word above it said “WEAK.”

My first reaction was to take personal offense. I signed up for the TransUnion and Experian websites to better understand the reason for this cyber-bullying and answered a series of Big Brother-esque questions that further embarrassed me about my life (In 2005, you bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee: was it a 1987 model, a 1988 model, or 1989 model? “Goddammit,” I said to myself, and clicked the button next to 1987). Then I went through my credit reports in full. One of them didn’t show the Bank of America credit card I’ve had open for six years, so I called Bank of America and within two minutes a woman had filed an account report for me to TransUnion—easy.

The other report showed a $90 Comcast bill from 2012. “SERIOUSLY PAST DUE,” said the report. “I have never even owned a TV so can you back the f**k off,” I said in return. At the end of the report, under Personal Information, I saw a list of all the names I have ever used financially—my full name is Jia Angeli Carla Tolentino and I have used various combinations on various things—and then, at the bottom of the list, I saw the name “ANGEL POLENTINO.”

Experian wouldn’t let me dispute an identity issue online, so I called their 800 number. “Reason for dispute?” the kind, articulate Experian lady asked me.

“My name is not Angel Polentino,” I said. “Who is Angel Polentino?”

This morning I got emails saying that both of my erroneous credit reports had been corrected. Everyone check your credit scores! And then don’t forget to unsubscribe from the little gotcha services where you can view it free for 7 days but after that it’s a million dollars per month on autopay!

 

This has been a public service announcement from Jia Tolentino.

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21 Comments / Post A Comment

cryptolect (#1,135)

You can check the credit reports for free; they only charge you if you want to see your number. But anything potentially problematic should be in the report.

@cryptolect Yes, I have taken advantage of that to never actually see my credit score – I check the reports for errors and sign off. I am terrified of my credit score, although I’ve never been turned down for anything I’ve applied for or made to pay a larger deposit or do anything else that indicates that it might be bad. But still, for me, ignorance is bliss.

Lily Rowan (#70)

Ah! Thank you for that last line — I was just getting ready to ask how you can see the scores themselves for free! Cancel the free trial, is how. I’m putting that on my to-do list.

readyornot (#816)

Also: creditkarma.com

mannequinhands (#1,278)

@readyornot Yes! I highly recommend Credit Karma. They will advertise to you but I check them all the time and it’s free! And they tell you what will help raise your score!

readyornot (#816)

@mannequinhands I only started using them this week (casualty of the Christian Brown piece), so I haven’t had to endure any ads yet. The credit report card feature is nice, though the simulator hasn’t worked so great for me (it tells me my score will be lower after things I know that will raise it). But it is a sort of fascinating look into the profit-maximizing graders of credit. If you have under 10 accounts, open or closed, they ding you. Just a little bit, but still. That is totally nuts.

j-i-a (#746)

Also, also, shout-out to the real Angel Polentino out there with her yellow credit and unpaid Comcast bill; I do not judge you and we’re probably exactly alike in every other way

deepomega (#22)

@j-i-a Nah, her Grand Cherokee is an ’86.

siege91 (#1,738)

The credit reporting bureaus all think I am my father (we have the same first and last names, different middle name, obviously different social security #’s). I was once on his credit card as the emergency family credit card, and that is all that shows on my credit report despite having opened a bunch of utility accounts in my own name/SS#. I actually can’t even get my Equifax report without mailing in copies of my birth certificate, because those security questions are all about car loans and a mortgage taken out by my father when I was like 4.

shannowhamo (#845)

@siege91 I just went to get my report and Equifax did the same thing to me! A car and a mortgage I had no knowledge (opened last year) of so it told me I had to submit the form by mail. But I don’t have the same name as my dad so I don’t know what’s going on. Is this something I’m supposed to investigate?

ThatJenn (#916)

@siege91 Ugh that sucks. My credit report used to list my mother as my spouse (I guess because we co-owned a house, and also her first name is semi-unisex which might have added to the confusion), and now lists her name as one of my “previously known by” names, and I really need to call and let them know that’s not the case, but luckily I’ve never actually gotten one of her accounts on my credit report. (I mean, kind of luckily. She has awesome credit. It might help me.)

Dancercise (#94)

My eternal love and devotion to whoever added the Simon and Garfunkel reference to the tags.

readyornot (#816)

@Dancercise must be logan. i think she’s used that song in a post title, too. and now it’s stuck in my head!

deepomega (#22)

Also Angel Polentino sounds like a type of pasta.

j-i-a (#746)

@deepomega OMG. She is the polenta-tortellini to my tortellini-taquito. PS hi thanks for feeding me in LA. PPS the only reason I checked my credit score is because you wrote that thing about Bank of America! THE BILLFOLD, CHANGING LIVES

deepomega (#22)

@j-i-a I was HOPING this was my fault! The greatest prize of all – making someone else go “oh yeah credit scores huh”

ThatJenn (#916)

@deepomega You are also why I just checked mine! I monitor two of my three reports/scores for free on CreditKarma (TransUnion) and CreditSesame (Experian), but I try to order the score from the third bureau yearly since I haven’t found a free way to get that score.

My scores from the three bureaus are pretty scattered – from 768 to 820 – even though they all have the same data. TransUnion is really upset that I don’t have a recorded mortgage or car loan anymore, even though I have 6-7 years of history of paying on-time for mortgages and 4-5 years of paying on-time for car loans, sometimes two cars at a time. (My car loan and mortgage are both held by family members, so to the credit agencies it looks like I own my house and car outright, having paid off both loans in the last two years with lump sums. It sort of irritates me that this move has lowered my credit score significantly – the “problem” is that I only have credit cards open right now, no other types of debt.)

BananaPeel (#1,555)

Also, if you do the trial-week-then-cancel thing KEEP NOTES on doing the cancelation or SOMEONE (Experian) might keep charging you and you have to call and cancel again and ask them to remove the charge and they will only remove half and that is even after you tell them the date you called and that you took notes saying you canceled it and it turns into a he said/she said and you’re out like $40.

ThatJenn (#916)

@BananaPeel This is why I ask for a confirmation number for the transaction and/or the name & operator ID (if there is one) for the person I spoke with.

BananaPeel (#1,555)

@ThatJenn Truth. Also it was Equifax, not Experian. My mistake!

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