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The Corporate Stalker


Shadowy Credit Card Relationships



An unknown stalker instilled fear into my life during college. That person broke into my apartment and stole some of my clothing. The fact that someone could enter my home and make such a personal statement was frightening. I had no control over the situation, although I called the authorities and added locks to my doors. There was a positive side: I learned if you want my trust, you must earn it.

I applied that new boundary only to peers, however, never thinking to apply it to businesses such as credit card companies. After all, I needed to earn their trust, not the other way around.
   
My problem began last fall, when a respected credit card company — I’ll call it Sure ’Nuff — announced it would cut 7,000 jobs, about 10 percent of its work force. That same day, Sure ’Nuff sent me an e-mail stating it was slashing my credit limit in half.
   
At first I thought the e-mail was a joke. I called the company immediately and was told my new limit was based on my credit report. I was amazed, as my report hadn’t changed for six months — and had a high enough score to send many friends into a jealous frenzy. The supervisor refused to talk with me, so I hung up and accepted my fate, thinking this was the end of it.
   
But my credit report has changed plenty now, because Sure ’Nuff lowers my limit with each monthly payment.
   
My account with Sure ’Nuff is a rollover with a low interest rate. So I thought that, instead of a loan, I could use that card to pay part of my daughter’s college credits. I had just begun payments when Sure ’Nuff began to stalk me. By the time I realized I could use a loan to pay off the card, Sure ’Nuff had affected my credit rating to the point that I was enslaved to its perfidious plan.
   
And with each call to Sure ’Nuff, I receive the same ironic response: “We’re cutting your credit limit in response to your credit report.” This is the only card I own that has pursued this line of attack, and I know I’m not alone. In a recent AARP the Magazine article, a man experienced this same problem with this same company.
   
The reason I remembered my college stalker is because this experience has reintroduced the same feelings of fear, helplessness and sadness. I work hard, pay my bills, have never made late payments and always pay three times the monthly amount owed.
   
But stalkers, it seems, are everywhere. And Sure ’Nuff, much like that mystery person in college, has taught me a lesson: I don’t need to trust you just because you’re in a position of trust. Although my clothing remains safe these days, when it comes to dealing with credit card companies from here on out, I’ve got extra locks on my income.


Linda Goin is a free-lance writer who focuses on personal finance and visual communications. She completed her college career this year with a graduate degree in American history at age 50.


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