Missing Payments While on Military Deployment

Many companies have special rules that let members of the military suspend payments without penalty.

Last year my unit was on a 15-month deployment to Iraq. I had contacted T-Mobile before I left and was assured that there would be no problems with my account while I was deployed. But then I learned that an unpaid charge for an early-termination fee of $218 had gone to collection, causing my credit score to drop 75 points. A T-Mobile representative asked me to pay the bill, which I did, and then figure it out from there. But now a representative from the collection agency says that I should make another payment through her. The whole point of having a "military suspension" is to avoid problems like this. Can you do anything to help?

We contacted T-Mobile, and the company credited the disputed amount to your account and removed the collection account from your credit report. A T-Mobile spokesperson said the company "regrets this isolated incident," but declined to comment further on your account due to customer privacy concerns.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.