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Finance

My worst credit mistake . . .

The story of Mike the Deadbeat, a stand-up comic who trashed his credit for laughs, generated lots of feedback from readers who feel his pain.

Many people wrote in to share their credit blunders.

The following are their real-life examples of what not to do.

And, ouch! Some of them are doozies.

Bad credit moves
  • Co-worker trashes credit
  • Available credit is important
  • Loan for worthless training
  • The sting of credit cards
  • Co-signed for beau's brother
  • My mom and a time share
  • Car buying sans research
  • Trashy sofa trashes credit
  • Co-worker trashes credit
    I'm plagued by collection agencies threatening to sue and ruin my credit. My situation: I had a corporate card along with another person in my company. But after the company ran out of money and didn't pay the bills, the corporate card -- an American Express -- reverted back to my responsibility. The thing that makes the situation even worse is that the other person's card, not mine, was still being used! I didn't have access to the bills to know the card was being used because I had been laid off from the company several months before!

    After much wrangling with collectors and the credit company, no proof has ever been provided that I am responsible for the corporate card personally, but the damage is done on my credit report and now I cannot buy a house.

    I have a perfect credit rating other than this corporate card.
    Jerry R.

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    Why available credit is important
    When my credit limit reached $70,000 I reasoned I didn't need that much credit. My highest balance had been $15,000 and I was uncomfortable owing that much. So I called my creditors and had them lower my credit limits, which they had trouble understanding at first. What a mistake.

    Later, when I encountered over $12,000 in legal fees and another $10,000 in other expenses, I was $33,000 in debt with only $40,000 in available credit. I quickly lost another $10,000 in available credit when I had to close three accounts after the credit card companies changed terms and raised the interest rates due to my high debt ratio.

    If I had kept my high credit limits, $33,000 debt probably wouldn't have caused a chain reaction of changes in terms with the credit cards. My debt ratio would have been less than 50 percent and wouldn't have been seen as a problem.

    The lesson I learned is that available credit is a good thing. The more the better.
    Verne S.

    Loan for a worthless, unfinished certification
    The worse credit mistake I have ever made was taking out a student loan in order to get some computer networking certifications. At the time networking was hot and anyone that was Microsoft-and-Cisco certified could make a killing after taking just six months to a year of school. Halfway through my courses, the bottom fell out of the economy. I was back working at Wal-Mart as a cashier and now had a $9,000 loan. Not only was I unable to get a job in my chosen field, I didn't even get a chance to finish the classes. I couldn't afford the test fees -- which were well over $100 each. With seven or eight tests to take, that just wasn't an option. So, now I am paying for something that I never used and I'm still struggling to make ends meet. Oh well, live and learn.
    Mitchell G.

    (continued on next page)
    -- Posted: Sept. 22, 2003
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    See Also
    10 dumbest credit card moves
    Your credit: The basics
    Financial advice glossary
    More advice stories

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