Question: I was an AT&T customer back in 2011. I had my cell phone through them and activated a U-Verse internet service through them in March of 2011. Through some error they canceled my original account without my consent, and when I called to ask about it, they activated a new U-Verse internet account for me.
However they somehow re-activated the canceled account and though I logged over 14 customer service calls to them over a 6 month period trying to straighten out the problem they still attempted to charge me for both.
Then last year they sent my canceled-then-reactivated duplicate account to a collection agency, lowered the balance to zero when I corrected them for the 15th time, but neglected to work with the collection agency to have this collection removed from my credit score. It’s RUINING my credit.
I’ve always paid my debts on time and managed my credit responsibly and although I have attempted several calls to AT&T asking them to rectify this, as their internal records corroborate everything, they have now gone over a month without answering/returning my phone calls. I don’t know what to do anymore. Is there any recourse I can take myself to bypass this ridiculous company and their unethical practices and get my good credit back?
Answer: First let me say AT&T Customer Service = Yuck! Okay, now let’s get to your issue. As I see it you have several options that may resolve this matter. In all options you must reiterate the desired outcome to be a FULL DELETION as you do not want the negative listing updated to zero or paid on your credit reports.
(1) Contact the Collection Agency. If you have any supporting documentation showing a zero balance send it directly to the collection agency. Request they DELETE the listing; not update it to paid, as it should have never been placed on your credit report.
(2) File a Complaint Letter to the Utilities Commission. Depending on the state you live in, there is an oversight or regulatory commission for AT&T. In California where I live it is the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Your public utilities commission can help resolve billing and collection complaints as one of its duties is to protect consumers against unauthorized charges.
(3) File a Complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Federal Communications Commission is good at resolving issues with AT&T. You can file a complaint online at: http://www.fcc.gov/complaints. AT&T will not be able to ignore a complaint from the FCC. They will be given a specific timeframe to address and resolve the issue and must answer to the FCC.
If you really want to turn up the heat file complaints with your State’s regulatory commission in addition to the Federal Communications Commission and watch AT&T respond.
(4) State Attorney General. File a complaint with your state’s Attorney General. Consumers sometimes fail to use their state’s resources. Companies do not like official complaints and often respond favorably to consumers when an official complaint is filed.
If you file a complaint with your state Attorney General, make sure you mention that AT&T has instructed their collection agency to inaccurately report on your credit files. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) says only “accurate” information can appear on your credit reports.
(5) File a Lawsuit. As a last resort you can file a lawsuit against AT&T and the collection agency for violating the FCRA. However, in order to do this, you must first dispute the listing on your credit reports. Once you dispute information in your credit files the credit bureaus must correct or delete inaccurate information usually within 30 days; unless that information is verified as accurate. If the collection agency verifies this information you know to be inaccurate, you now have the basis for a lawsuit.
As you can see there are several options to follow. A complaint to the FCC will probably resolve the matter and hopefully you will not have to consider the other options. The best of luck to you.