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Ask Dave

American Express Is Your Problem

Kelly and her husband are newlyweds starting the Baby Steps. He has a credit card that was turned over to a debt collector. The debt isn't on his credit report, which makes Kelly nervous.

QUESTION: Kelly in Spokane and her husband are newlyweds starting the Baby Steps. He has a credit card that was turned over to a debt collector. They had been taking payments out of their checking account, and they canceled it after listening to Dave. The debt isn’t on his credit report, which makes Kelly nervous.

ANSWER: You don’t have any current statements. Ask for a current statement on where this account stands. And when you get one, then resume payments. It’s behind anyway. Don’t pay them anymore until you get a current statement as to where this account stands. They can tack on all kinds of stuff. That doesn’t mean you’re going to pay it, but they can tack it on. What may end up happening is you end up settling for a lump sum later.

It not being on his credit report doesn’t mean anything. That just means they haven’t reported it. You still owe the money, and you still don’t know how much.

American Express is your problem. Those people are complete buttholes. They’re just absolutely ridiculous to work with. And you’re not dealing with a collector. You’re dealing with an in-house agency. They just changed the names and moved the butt down the hall. That’s all it is. They still work for American Express. They haven’t sold the debt or farmed it out. They do their own collections. It’s usually going to be either New York or Phoenix or Jacksonville, Florida, and then you’re dealing with AmEx idiots. If you’ve talked to them, they’re just complete morons. They’re abusive, abrasive, they’re twerps. I will never do business with any branch of that company again after dealing with them. They lie.

You probably are paying who you’re supposed to be paying, but the problem is unless you get a statement that you can tie your payments back to, they lie so much—you can tell they’re lying if their mouth’s moving—they just make crap up. It is a filthy company. You’ve really got to get statements. What I would do is call them every day. Tell them when they get you a statement, you’ll get them some money. You need to clear it up. It’s not something that just because they’re idiots we’re going to ignore. You’ve got a debt that is legitimate that you do owe, and you need to pay your debt. That part is there, and it’s not going to go away. It’s just going to get worse. We need to get it cleared up. Let’s just force their hand and make them give you a statement as soon as possible. I wouldn’t give them any more money until you get a statement, because they lie. You’ve got to have something that you can tie the math back to and clear this mess up.