Financial planning isn’t just about building wealth for the future. It’s also remembering to take care of what’s important to your personal finances here and now. One of these important items of personal finance business includes remembering to provide forwarding information to your creditors, lenders, bankers, utilities and retirement plans. And you should back it up with calls to verify that the information the company has is correct. A recent experience (this morning, in fact) confirms the importance of this personal finance necessity.
I received a rather surprising call from a collection agency. Surprising because it was with regard to a final bill from an electric company in New York. I had left my forwarding address on the bill in question, directing to my shiny new Utah address. Well, when someone typed it into the computer (I know it was a “human error” on the part of the company because I photocopied the bill with forwarding address and checked it out in a frenzy of annoyance), s/he managed to transpose two numbers in my address (changing 630 E to 360 E). I never got the final bill, and thought everything was cool, since I had made a payment just before moving.
This morning I found out that things were not cool. The utility company had turned my deliquent account (which I didn’t know was deliquent) over to a collection agency. Do you know how bad it looks on a credit report to have a bill more than a year overdue? Not so good. I straightened everything out, made the payment, and talked to the electric company. Now I get to spend the rest of the morning communicating with credit bureaus (via phone and in writing) and sending my complaint in writing to the electric company.
The moral of this story is to leave a forwarding address, and then call to double check to make sure that it has been properly entered into the computer. Human error can cause all sorts of problems, and since we’re all only human, it is a good idea to check up on what is going on. You can keep track of which companies need your address change through a list. Keep a list of the credit card companies, banks, utilities, publications, retirement plan investment brokers and others that you regularly pay money to. Keep the phone numbers and addresses on the lists so that when you move, all you need to do is go down the list. About two weeks later, go down the list again, and verify that everyone has the right address. Taking care of this simple personal finance issue now can save all sorts of pain and annoyance later.