"How are you preparing for your job interview?" asked Arun. "I have promised God that I shall visit the temple barefoot every Monday and feed the holy cow if I get the job" pat replied Amita. "Oh dear!" murmured Arun. Arun and Amita were twins but their personalities were poles apart. "What if you do not fare well on the expectations and benchmarks of the employer?" teased Arun. "Don't say that!" said a clearly irritated Amita, "I am keeping my fingers crossed". "Oh please!"sighed Arun.
If only Amita would understand that just the qualification and crossing fingers was not enough. There was more to a job. Today the employers, especially in financial industry, also checks the credibility of the prospective employee and credit score is one of the most effective ways to do so. And no one can chip away the importance of a good credit score, even when one is not looking for a loan.
Shuchi, Amita's friend who suggested she must apply for the post of Manager, Treasury at 'Modern Bank', had already told her that all applicants were strongly vetted for the position, including a thorough credit check. Despite this Amita just assumed that she must have a stellar score because she had only one credit card which she sparingly used. And when she did use it, she paid it back in time.
Arun tried to chip in one evening, "you must check your report atleast once before you let someone else look at it." "My Tarot reader said, I will get the job come what may. So there is no point in checking my report", chided Amita. There was a bit of sibling rivalry among them and this time Amita just wanted to be proven right.
Amita was looking forward to a break like this. She had the right qualification and the right amount of experience. Shuchi had even confirmed that her chances were bright as the interviewer was quite impressed. Amita was so hopeful that she begun shopping for a new wardrobe. One afternoon, Shuchi called to break the unfortunate news to her. "I had warned you about credit checks but you didn't pay any heed. Now what can I do?" reprimanded Shuchi.
Amita could not believe it. To her dismay, she had a deplorable score. She was sad because she was not selected for the post but more so because she was sure Arun got another chance to belittle her and tease her. Instead Arun lent a comforting shoulder to her and gave a wise piece of advice, "let us take a lesson from this experience and rework a new strategy. We shall call for your CIBIL report tomorrow morning and check why your score is so poor. We shall do whatever it takes to go for bad credit fix".
Amita did exactly that. She and Arun went over her credit report the following day. They were completely taken aback to find all sorts of wrong information in the report. Accounts that were never applied for were overdue, credit cards she never had were unpaid, there was a high balance on the account, a car loan was closed, another personal loan was 'settled' and much more. There was even an education loan they had no clue about.
The report was muddled with errors all over.
Together, Amita and Arun took up each error one by one and raised disputes with the bureau. The standard dispute resolution process takes about one month. Amita was determined to have her report corrected. Sometimes, they were directed to the lender for a resolution while at other times, the bureau would just correct it.
A couple of times the bureau took a tad longer to reply but Amita & Arun had resolved to resolve every dispute with the bureau. They continuously followed up with the bureau and did not sit still until all inaccuracies were done away with.
It took them over eight months to finally come out clean. Even after everything was settled, Amita had a score of 708. That is because she did not use credit much.
Would that be enough if she had to take a loan? No. Banks expect 750 as a minimum CIBIL score for a personal loan. And in case of any emergency, she would be left with no option but to explore personal loan for CIBIL defaulters. In the process of having those errors removed, Amita learned quite a few things about credit scores.
She now started using her credit card regularly, keeping a low manageable balance and paid it off in time. She realised that although errors on her report were sheer mix ups but they can indicate a much a serious problem – identity theft.
The good thing is that not only Amita but also Arun has become more conscious of his score. They both regularly monitor their reports and make sure their reports are in impeccable conditions.
Opportunities don't come knocking every day. Unfortunately, Amita missed the opportunity at that time but if it comes again, Amita will be better prepared.