Tuesday, November 19, 2013

fare well?

Many moons ago, during my freshman year of university, our professor urged the class to carefully manage our personal credit ratings.  I was eighteen years old and had never considered my credit rating until then, so later that week I applied for a free credit report.  I received the shock of my life when I discovered that I had abysmal credit.  In fact, I was apparently being pursued by several collection agencies.  This began an ordeal that continues to this day.  

There was another woman who shared my first and last name, though not my middle name, and she was a crook.  She wrote bad checks, didn't pay off credit cards, and generally seemed to be a grifter who moved locations frequently. Somehow the collection agencies had confused me with her.  I used to think that this was because I spent my childhood moving on average every two years so maybe our patterns made the agencies think that we were the same person.  But after calling up the various collection agencies trying to clear my name and getting nowhere I started cynically wondering if they simply didn't care that my name was being dragged through the mud as long as they got paid. One particularly odious man told me that he could do nothing to remove my name from the list but since my poor credit would prevent me from opportunities in the future, I should go ahead and pay to repair the damage. He even offered me a deal of paying off a fraction of what was truly owed.

Collection letters even found their way to Hong Kong when I moved here in 2008.  I could only shake my head in dismay at the demand for payment addressed to me even though I was several decades younger than this other woman. I have stopped bothering to fight to clear my name but as it turns out, there are many credit card companies who apparently don't worry about such trivial things as a reputation for nonpayment because I still receive credit card applications. In grad school I nervously applied for a credit card and received it along with a $15,000 credit line. Idiots.

Last night I Googled my name for the first time in quite a while and discovered quite a few obituaries from two years ago. The person with my first and last name  happened to have been the same age as my grifter.  I would like to share with you that it is uncanny to read your name in an obituary. Along with feeling unease and maybe a spot of sadness because that's how most of us react to news of a death, I also felt some relief.  Unless there is another crooked person sharing my name out there in some horrible twist of fate, I imagine that my days of receiving rude and threatening phone calls from collectors are over.

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