James Carroll purchased a towel from Macy's while on business in Hawaii. He bought it on sale for $6 and charged it to a new Macy's charge card he opened that day. The bill was supposed to arrive in a few weeks.
"It didn't get there and I didn't receive it," he said.
It turns out the bill had been misaddressed. Macy's sent it to house No. 1311, but he lives at No. 1131. The $6.21 charged for the towel was added on top of an $8.21 late fee. He says Macy's promised him the problem would be taken care of, but each month the late fee would increase.
"A $6 problem turned into a few months later a $74 fee and very, very difficult to deal with the situation," said Carroll.
Compounding his worries was what this incident would do to his credit report. 7 On Your Side advised him to monitor his credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com for free.
"That's really the only online portal to the truly free credit report," said Norma Garcia of Consumers Union.
Garcia says any other so-called free offers to monitor your credit will require you to purchase something. You can get one free credit report each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also contest any errors.
"You can dispute directly to the credit reporting agency, or the company, or the furnisher of the information," said Garcia.
Once you do that, the company would have 30 days to complete an investigation; the credit bureau, 45 days.
As for Carroll, 7 On Your Side contacted Macy's and it has removed all late charges from his bill. Macy's told 7 On Your Side, "Our customer service team has reached out to Mr. Carroll to discuss his account and actions have been taken on his behalf."
Carroll was pleased the way it all turned out.
"You've taken care of a frustrating situation and hopefully myself and Macy's will learn to play nice with one another," he said.
When disputing your credit report, make sure you do it in writing, send it by mail and request a return receipt.