Home > Credit 101 > The Little-Known Moving Mistake That Will Cost You Big

Comments 0 Comments

You’re moving? Be careful. Once you’ve managed to get all your stuff packed up and transported to your new place, unpacked and settled in, you’d better make time to check your credit reports and credit scores because moving can wreck your credit. Seriously.

Why? Because there may be a final bill for some service you canceled making its way to a collection agency. If that collection account hits your credit, your score is going to drop — and probably by a lot.

It happened to me, years ago when I moved from Virginia to Florida. I closed my checking account, but the teller failed to tell me I needed to separately close my overdraft line of credit, which carried an annual fee. When that fee went unpaid, my “balance” went to collections.

And we’ve heard plenty of other stories like that on the Credit.com blog. For example:

One reader who goes by the name “S. Anderson” recently described how she notified her gas company in writing that she was closing her account more than a week before she moved. Six months later she found out the account was still being billed for service the new tenant was receiving. The gas company claimed it never received her letter, and filing a complaint with the utility commission hasn’t resolved the problem.

Another reader, Rachel, is battling a final charge from a cable company for just $33.12 after she moved out of her ex’s place. She said she received a final notice that her balance was zero, but thinking all was OK, she threw it out. The next week she discovered a collection notice was sent to her at her old address, and she’s spent hours trying to straighten it out.

Don’t Unpack Before You Have Done This

If you are moving, you must be extra careful to make sure no unexpected or unknown final bills wreck your credit. To do that, take the following steps:

First, get organized. Create a list of all the accounts you need to close. Also, set up a folder where you can keep track of your efforts. Better yet, consider starting a file in the cloud using a free service such as Dropbox, Evernote or Google Drive. It may be safer than keeping track of paper records, which could get lost when you relocate.

Get your confirmation of cancellation in writing. If you close an account over the phone, ask for a confirmation number and record it where you won’t lose it. To be on the safe side, send a written notice of cancellation to your provider with proof of delivery and keep a copy of it (along with your receipt showing when it was mailed) for your records. If you cancel online, save a copy of the confirmation.

Check your balances the month you move, the month after you move and six months after you move. If you check your account online, print out or save a copy of the screenshot of your account showing a zero balance.

Don’t Assume No News Is Good News

It’s all too easy for a bill to get lost in the shuffle when you change addresses. (Not to mention that your former roommate or a new tenant might decide it’s easy to use your information to get credit.) That means anyone who moves should always monitor their credit carefully. Any unexpected drop in the score could indicate a problem. Consumers can order their credit reports for free once a year, and also can monitor their credit scores for free at Credit.com.

More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team