A credit rating is a reflection of whether or not you can be trusted to pay bills that you owe. It’s a historical reflection of the financial decisions you’ve made. A high credit rating will not just happen, you have to work and be intentional in your efforts to build your score to be an accurate reflection of your integrity, diligence and maturity. You’ve heard stories about how tough it is to buy something when your credit rating is low and you vowed it would never be you.
The funny thing about being a victim of identity theft is that you are the last to know, it catches you off guard and unaware. You’ve saved up and you’re ready to purchase that beautiful car you’ve had your eye on. You head into the dealership, head held high and the salesman asks if you know your credit score and you proudly say 750! The salesman goes into his pitch about all of the excellent finance options and incentives you qualify for. You test drive the car and you are in love all that’s left to do is fill out the paper work. Piece of cake. The salesman takes your paperwork to the finance department and you start to get antsy after about ten minutes and, finally, after fifteen minutes you see the salesman rounding he corner heading in your direction with a puzzled/concerned look on his face. He says “ma’am we are not going to be able to finance your purchase, because your credit rating is poor.” Your heart sank as a huge lump lodged in your throat, “you must be mistaken”. “When was the last time you saw your credit report?” he asks and places the report in front of you. You know four months ago your score was 750 but how is it possible this report shows 500? That’s your name, your address but that’s all that looks familiar on the first of four pages. In shock you wonder how this could have possibly happened. You feel so violated. Time stands still as you feel the warmth of tears rolling down your face. In effort to figure out how and when someone got ahold of your personal information to open up lines of credit, you frantically retrace your steps in your mind over the last four months. You’d been ever so careful and now, you’ve been a victim of the theft of an identity you’ve worked so hard to create. You find yourself back home and don’t know how you got there. The day has been a blur. You’ve been victimized but you have no time to feel sorry for yourself, you have to get busy doing the work you exonerate yourself and reclaim your identity.
That’s what happened to me but it wasn’t with my credit rating, it was with my work rating. For fifteen years I’d invested in building a career and reputation I could be proud of. I was the go-to in my office for every and anything. Working for a large agency word spreads like wild fire. And that word, about me that spread was excellent. Lot’s of awards, honors and accolades. Never received lower than the highest performance evaluation my entire career. I was ready to take the next big step in my career. It was time to run my own office.
Three months from the time I filled out my first application, I had moved my family to a new state to turn this office around. I was excited because there was nowhere to go but up. The office and employees had been neglected for years and the gloom of rejection was a heavy cloud hovering over the office. And so I got about the work of laying a foundation that would be strong enough to hold our successful future. I knew I was doing a good job and making good decisions, I was proud of where we were headed, especially considering where we’d come from. Then, a funny thing started to happen, every time I went to a work conference with my peers, I felt like I was being treated differently…folks were distant and seemed to whisper in the corners and the high level execs, the same people who chose me to entrust such an important job to. But, nose to the grindstone…everybody knows my track record. They know about the 12 hour days and improvement in the office, no worries. I’ll get my props soon enough I thought to myself. And then, out of nowhere like a punch to my gut with a hammer…I started hearing things about myself that made my jaw drop. I heard it was said that I was incompetent, arrogant, didn’t know what I was doing, a failure, not doing anything right, not fit for the job. I could not believe it. Years of hard work erased by an identity thief in the form of an insecure “leader” hell bent on defrauding my character. She told lies and spread untruths. Someone who worked with me for months but never gave direction but always had eyes that criticized and judged. I felt so betrayed and beat up. No support, only criticism from the one who was there to guide my but, her intention was to take me down and to this day I don’t know why. She smeared my name and even submitted a report to the executive leaders about me that was scathing. Completely innocent….I had to work to retake my name and my career.