How a typo turned into a credit nightmare

It all started with a small typo. But that quickly led to a big problem. Within weeks, a local couple faced multiple credit card declines because of this typo and yet found no one with the authority to help them restore their credit. Mary and John Neale won ‘I’ll never look at a store credit card offer again – not after what they’ve been through for the past few months. Their story began in March at the Lowes’ in Westborough, where John Neale was buying lumber and a Lowe employee offered him a 20% discount if he opened an “account”. Not realizing it was a credit card, he said yes but was then inexplicably declined. “I didn’t care. I didn’t ask for the discount anyway, so I went to checkout,” John Neale said. A few days later, John received a letter from Lowe’s credit card provider – Synchrony Bank – stating that his application for a card from Lowe had been declined because they could not verify his identity. Again, it didn’t really affect the two of them – until his wife Mary Neale went to the mall. That’s when Mary Neale was offered a big discount at Macy’s if she paid with her Macy’s card. But Mary’s card was too old, so the store clerk told her she had to reapply. She has accepted. “And then said, ‘It’s not going through. You’ve been turned down,'” Mary Neale said. “Meanwhile, there are people standing behind me. They hear all this and I am mortified.” Macy’s turned down Mary Neale’s application because John Neale was recently turned down by Lowe’s. John Neale said, worried about the snowball effect on the couple’s credit. Again. The reason given to him this time was because of the first refusal. It was then that he learned that he had originally been denied because Lowe’s clerk mistyped his social security number on the application. “I was declined due to a typo in the social security number that I didn’t put in,” John Neale said. Even though it was a typo by Lowe, the store passed the blame on to Synchrony Bank. Chances are you’ve had one of their cards in your wallet as they provide credit card services to a wide range of major retailers. No one at Synchrony – including the managers – seemed to have the power to help. Instead, John Neale said everyone blamed his computer system. “It’s not okay to ruin someone’s credit on a typo and say there’s nothing you can do about it,” John Neale said. “I just thought it was ridiculous. And it was a dead end that shouldn’t be.” story raises many questions about why it is so difficult to correct a simple error in our credit reporting system. It’s similar to the problem Eileen D’Entremont faced last year when Kohl reported to the credit bureaus that she had died in place of her deceased mother. This mistake erased her credit rating and made her ineligible for a loan. Exasperated that no one seemed to have the power to help her, she turned to NewsCenter 5. “Nobody wanted to admit that,” D’Entremont said. “They developed the vaccine faster than I solved this problem, and that’s not right.” After the Neales reached out, NewsCenter 5 reached out to Lowe’s, since the mistake started there. That night, John received a call from company management saying they would have Synchrony fix the mess. A spokesperson for Synchrony Bank told NewsCenter 5 “we deeply regret” the problems faced by the Neales, and the bank immediately endorsed John Neale for a Lowe’s. This means her second denial has been cleared and the bank has told her they will file a case to remove the first denial, a process that can take up to 60 days. Synchrony’s spokesperson declined to answer questions about why managers don’t have the authority to override denials based on human error. The Neales say they are done applying for store credit cards. said Mary Neale.

It all started with a small typo. But that quickly led to a big problem.

Within weeks, a local couple faced multiple credit card declines because of this typo and yet found no one with the authority to help them restore their credit.

Mary and John Neale will never look at a store credit card offer again – not after what they’ve been through for the past few months.

Their story began in March at the Lowes’ in Westborough, where John Neale was buying lumber and a Lowe employee offered him a 20% discount if he opened an “account”.

Not realizing it was a credit card, he said yes, but was then inexplicably declined.

“I didn’t care. I didn’t ask for the discount anyway, so I went to checkout,” John Neale said.

A few days later, John received a letter from Lowe’s credit card provider – Synchrony Bank – stating that his Lowe’s card application had been declined because they could not verify his identity. Again, it didn’t really bother him – until his wife Mary Neale went to the mall.

That’s when Mary Neale was offered a big discount at Macy’s if she paid with her Macy’s card. But Mary’s card was too old, so the store clerk told her she had to reapply. She has accepted.

“So what [the clerk] said, ‘It’s not happening. You were turned down,” Mary Neale said. “Meanwhile, there are people standing behind me. They hear all this and I’m mortified.”

Macy’s turned down Mary Neale’s application because John Neale was recently turned down by Lowe’s.

“So now I cared!” said John Neale, worried about the snowball effect on the couple’s credit.

John Neale returned to Lowe’s and was told the only way to erase the decline from his record was to successfully apply for the credit card.

So he applied again but was again turned down. The reason given to him this time was because of the first decline.

It was then that he learned that he had originally been denied because Lowe’s clerk mistyped his social security number on the application.

“I was declined because of a typo in the social security number that I didn’t enter,” John Neale said.

Even though it was a typo by Lowe, the store passed the blame on to Synchrony Bank.

Chances are you’ve had one of their cards in your wallet, as they provide credit card services to a wide range of major retailers. No one at Synchrony – including the managers – seemed to have the power to help.

Instead, John Neale said everyone blamed his computer system.

“It’s not okay to ruin someone’s credit on a typo and say there’s nothing you can do about it,” John Neale said. “I just thought it was ridiculous. And it was a dead end that shouldn’t be.”

The credit reporting system “is definitely broken. The fact that they couldn’t get past their own mistake,” said Mary Neale.

The Neales say their story raises many questions about why it’s so difficult to correct a simple error in our credit reporting system. It’s similar to the problem Eileen D’Entremont faced last year when Kohl reported to the credit bureaus that she had died in place of her deceased mother. This mistake erased her credit rating and made her ineligible for a loan. Exasperated that no one seemed to have the power to help her, she turned to NewsCenter 5.

“Nobody wanted to admit that,” D’Entremont said. “They developed the [COVID-19] vaccine faster than I solved this problem, and that’s not good.”

After the Neales reached out, NewsCenter 5 reached out to Lowe’s, since the error started there. That night, John received a call from company management saying they would have Synchrony fix the mess.

A Synchrony Bank spokesperson told NewsCenter 5 “we deeply regret” the problems the Neales faced, and the bank immediately approved John Neale for a Lowe’s card.

This means her second denial has been cleared and the bank has told her they will file a case to remove the first denial, a process that can take up to 60 days.

Synchrony’s spokesperson declined to answer questions about why managers don’t have the authority to override denials based on human error.

The Neales say they are done applying for store credit cards.

“Even if they’re going to give me the item for nothing, I’m done!” said Mary Neale.