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After losing father, cell phone company’s mistake leads to man's credit score grief

Posted at 9:43 PM, Jan 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-28 23:31:39-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Ed Spanknoble closed his deceased father's cell phone account, he expected that the process would be simple.

Instead, the Gardner resident has been fighting to fix his credit score after Consumer Cellular requested a detailed inspection of his credit history.

After the credit inquiry, Spanknoble's credit score dropped 13 points.

"I didn't know why they would have done a detailed inquiry on my credit when I was closing my father's cell phone account. I was not part of that account, he set it up himself," said Spanknoble.

In a statement, Consumer Cellular admitted an error. Instead of canceling Spanknoble's father's account, an agent changed the account into the son's name. This triggered a credit check.

"Our agent made an error, which was recognized immediately and all proper documentation has been submitted to alleviate the situation," the company said in a statement. "Our priority is - and always has been - to provide the very best in customer service, which has been recognized by both J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused Mr. Spanknobel, and we will work with our agent training teams to ensure this doesn't happen in the future."

Hard inquiries are a standard part of getting a new credit card or loan.

According to Maizie Simpson, data & news editor at Credit Karma, hard inquiries are also becoming a routine for cell phone companies.

"It's actually very common for cell phone companies to run a hard inquiry on someone's credit report when they apply for a new contract or new plan for that company," said Simpson. "Cell phone companies just want to know how likely you are to pay your bills on time."

Simpson said closing a cell phone account will never require a hard inquiry.

"Hard inquiries make up a small portion of your credit score so in most cases, a single hard inquiry will knock only a few points off your score and it's temporary," she said.

Spanknoble is still waiting for his credit score to be fixed. In the meantime, he is encouraging others to check their scores.

"If you have a loved one that passed away and you're responsible for their financial matters, I would encourage them to check their credit after every event like this," he said.

If you don't recognize a hard inquiry, your best course of action is to notify TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Let them know you are seeing some suspicious activity on your account and they can take action from there.