Creditor charges mom who lost job during pandemic late fees

Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Creditor charges unemployed mom late fees in pandemic
The woman said when she lost her job she called all of her credit card companies for an extension, but one company reported it to credit bureaus.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- When Lisa Appleby lost her job during the pandemic, she needed more time to pay off some of her bills, so she started calling her credit card companies to ask for an extension.

She said most of them gave her a few months to get caught up.

When she called Capital One, the bank that issued her Saks Fifth Avenue credit card, she said the company said they would look into it and she wasn't issued any late fees.

But, in June, when Appleby still wasn't able to pay her bill, the bank reported it to credit bureaus as late and added interest for the missed payments.

She reached out to ABC13's Ted Oberg and we called Capital One, who dropped the interest.

"We understand the concern and uncertainty people may be experiencing during the pandemic, and are committed to being responsive to the needs of our customers as the situation evolves," Capital One and Saks Fifth Avenue said in a joint statement. "We also understand that there may be instances where customers find themselves facing financial difficulties. Saks Fifth Avenue and Capital One are here to help, and we encourage customers who may be impacted to reach out so we can help find a solution."

Even though Appleby said none of the other companies she reached out to asked her to call every month if she couldn't make a payment, she advises others to make those calls to avoid late fees that could impact their long-term credit.

"You have to call people more than one time and even though you've called them and they say yes, you've got to call them again to make sure," Appleby said. "You can't rely on customer service people to do their job proactively."

When we reached out, Capital One said it was still monitoring the situation with the pandemic.

"If it continues to impact your ability to make your next minimum payment, please contact us before your next payment is due and we will review your account again to determine whether additional accommodations are available," Capital One said in a statement in July.

Even though the interest on her bill was dropped, Appleby said she's still worried about how it could impact her ability to get student loans for her son.

Experian, a consumer credit reporting company, advises customers to check their credit score and reports frequently prior to entering into an agreement with a credit card company. The company offered one option for credit scores to be update in situations similar to Appleby's.

"Lenders can request a 'rapid rescore' in many cases. They would obtain new credit reports reflecting the updated payment information and have new scores applied. That may help in this instance if the late payment was removed."

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