Q: Recently I sent out approximately 30 letters to creditors from my credit report asking them to close accounts in an effort to reduce the amount of available credit I was reporting. Many of them were old accounts that were satisfied but not closed.

I took the addresses that were provided from the credit report because none of the contact phone numbers worked. I should have taken that as an indicator of a problem. Almost every one of the letters came back as undeliverable. This is very frustrating because now I don’t know how to get these accounts closed and off my record. Do you have any suggestions?

A: You sent letters to 30 creditors? That must have been a pretty fat wallet you were carrying around.

The typical family has carries about $8,100 in debt on about 8 cards, including a few national credit cards (like American Express, Discover, Visa and Master Card), a few department store cards (like Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus or Macy’s), and a gas card or two (like Shell or Mobile).

As far as your credit score goes, keeping a few old accounts active (but with zero balances) should keep your score higher. So, you probably don’t want to close out all of these cards.

But you could certainly afford to close a few of them. To find current information, you can try using a search engine like Google or Yahoo! to get the card issuer’s information, or you can go to a website like CardWeb.com, which tracks various credit card companies.

If you have department store cards, contact the department store directly to cancel the account. The same is true for gas cards.

Once you get active addresses, resend the letters “return receipt requested” and make sure you keep the receipts until your credit history is showing the account is closed.

Published: Dec 31, 2004