I paid off one of my credit cards and closed the account six months ago, but my credit report still shows the account as open. How can I resolve this?
-S. Watson, Gainesville, FL
If you’ve run up a burdensome credit card balance in the past, it may seem that the best way to avoid temptation is to close the account. While I don’t know your motivation, be aware that closing the account may have lowered your credit score. It’s often better to maintain accounts because 15% of your FICO score is determined by the length of your credit history.
Also, if you have other outstanding debt, closing an account decreases the amount of credit available to you and thereby increases the percentage of your credit that’s already in use-a situation that signals possible overextension.
Because you’ve already closed the account, the first thing you should do is call the credit card company and speak to a representative. Be sure to note the date, time, and the name of the person you speak with. Explain that you have a zero balance and that you’ve already requested that the card be canceled.
Follow up with a letter sent either certified or return receipt requested. Sample letters are available on the Internet. After a month or so, order your credit report (see www.annualcreditreport.com) and see if the account has been closed and if there is a zero balance. If the matter still hasn’t been resolved, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org).