I had a recent incident involving my husband's Citibank Sears Mastercharge card. My husband passed away in February. I was an authorized user on the card, but it was not a joint card. In response to a letter my husband received after his death from Citibank informing us that our credit limit had been lowered, but failing to mention in the letter that the interest rate increased 5%. I called Sears Masterchg to find out my payoff amount, sent them a check for the amount and sent a letter including both mine and my husband's cut up cards to Citibank informing them that I was closing the account and that my husband had passed away. I never received any further statement after the April statement.
I have a credit report monitoring service and was informed of a credit alert for an activity on my credit report. On July 21, Sears Citibank had placed a negative activity on Equifax credit repots for a charge of $159.00. I called Sears thinking this was a fraudulent charge, since I had closed the account and had received no further statements. I was told that there was a charge on my account for $159.38 but they could not tell me what the charge was for. I was referred to Citibank Probate. I was informed by a lady in this dept that the charge was for a finance charge and 2 months late charge. I advised her that I had not received a statement since April when I paid off the account. She said since my husband was the primary card holder, no further statements would be sent out. I asked her how was I expected to know that I had a residual balance, if I wasn't made aware of it and that if it was my husband's card why did it go on my credit report, not his. She stated because I was an authorized user of the card. She did inform me that I was not responsible for paying the charge; then why put it on my charge and on my credit report. I could not get anyone to send me a statement to pay the charge, the only advice that I was given was to fax my name, address, credit card number and social security to a number to dispute the charge. I said there was no way that I was going to send that kind of information to a fax.
I finally went to a local Sears store, got the store manager, who had to get permission from someone at Sears credit card so that I could pay the charge, which I did .
I have some real concerns that after a death of a spouse and/or closure of a credit card, that the company can selectively choose not to send out a statement to inform you of a remaining balance; at the same time still add monthly late charges and place that on your credit report as late or missed payments, yet say that I am not responsible for the charges. When I asked Citibank Probate what I could do, she said that I need to have my name removed from my husband's credit card. I said that is what I thought I did when I sent in both our credit cards and closed the account. She said no I had to ask to have my name removed from the card. I said since the account was closed that I just naturally assumed that my name would be removed, that closing the account and returning the card implied that I was removing both mine and my husband's name
Questions that keep nagging at me and to which I never got a satisfying answer from Citibank Probate are:
1. If Citibank Sears Mastercharge would not and did not send me a statement, how was I supposed to know that I had a remaining balance on the account?
2. If Citibank chose not to send me a statement or a letter informing me of the Remaining balance, how could they keep adding monthly late charges?
3. If I had not had Triple Alert monitoring my credit reports, how long would the late charges continue to be added since Citibank Probate Dept chose not to inform me of the charges? (Till my credit rating was totally ruined).
4. If I was not responsible for the charges in the first place, then why place them on the closed credit card and on my credit report?
I don't know if this practice is illegal, but it is definitely unethical and should not be allowed. I plan to inform everyone that I can in the Congress that when looking at the way credit card companies do business; that allowing them to apply finance charges on a closed account, then adding monthly late charges, probably ad infinitum, and then placing it on your credit report without notification is very wrong. In my case, if I had not had Triple Alert monitoring any activity to my credit reports, I would never have known of the charge and the monthly late charges would have continued to be added until I did apply for credit only to find out that my credit had been totally ruined because of the accumulative late charges.
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