A few years ago, hubby and I bought carpeting on a credit card offered by CitiFinancial. It was one of those "no payment for 1 year" deals.
We didn't pay the balance within the year, so we began making the monthly payments on the card. At one point, our payment was late because our checking account information was stolen, forcing us to close our checking account and open a new one.
Unfortunately, I had just mailed a check to CitiFinancial for our monthly payment a day or so prior to discovering that someone was making illegal withdrawals from our account. I called CitiFinancial and explained the issue and promised to mail a new payment with a new check from our new checking account. The Customer Service Rep (CSR) told me that if I faxed a letter from my bank on letterhead explaining the closing of the first account, that I could avoid an "NSF" fee. I understood that I would have to pay the late charges.
About a month later, our interest rate jumped and I noticed that our due date, which used to be the 24th of each month, kept creeping up. I was hit with a late fee once, and decided after that to set up an automatic payment with my bank (EFT) for the same date each month which is a day after hubby's check is direct-deposited.
So, the payment directly from the bank worked for a while, and then my January bill includes a $40 late payment. According to my bank, the EFT was withdrawn from my checking account on 12/17 and delivered to CitiFinancial on 12/18 (it says this right in the bill-pay window). CitiFinancial had moved my due date up to 12/19 (I hadn't caught that on my statement), and was claiming my payment didn't reach them until 12/22. I disputed the charge via fax, but heard nothing.
The next month, I started to get collection calls and argued many times with the callers about the fact that I shouldn't be charged a late fee if their "processing center" didn't update my account in a timely way. They were willing to help me, but ONLY if I paid the 12-day late portion of my payment right then with a "check-by-phone". I wouldn't agree to doing a "check-by-phone" because I am pretty sure that's how our account had been compromised before and I am wary of it now.
Oh and yes, CitiFinancial had already made a notation on my credit report because they considered the $40 to be 12 days late.
Finally, I decided that I wasn't going to be treated fairly, so I would just try to find a way to pay off the balance (it's around $1,000) as fast as possible. I knew I couldn't afford it right away, but I did go on to CitiFinancial's new bill pay website (which they didn't have as an option before) and made a payment of $200.00 since my next due date was approaching.
CitiFinancial did not apply the "extra" money from that $200 to my next payment!! My statement arrived showing a monthly payment due in less than a week!! Guess WHAT?? The monthly payment due now has a $40 late fee charge added for the disputed balance that they say was 12 days late.
I have filed 2 complaints - one with the FTC and one with the PA State Attorney General's office.
Here are my questions:
1. I thought credit card companies couldn't arbitrarily move your due date around so that they could collect late fees?
2. CAN CitiFinancial report a charge as late to someone's credit report if that charge is in dispute?
I am hoping to have an income tax return so that I can pay them off and NEVER, EVER use CitiFinancial AGAIN!!