Bank says Valley man owes $500, but he says he doesn't owe a cent

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PHOENIX -- A Valley man says a credit card company is hounding him for money that he doesn't owe so he contacted 3 On Your Side for help.

This isn't your normal credit card. It's called a secured credit card and it's geared toward people who have less than perfect credit.

But a Valley man says it's turned into a real problem for him.

Chris Duffey wants to do more for his family, but he doesn't have the best credit. So, to improve his credit history and increase his credit score, he says Washington Mutual, a financial institution, told him to get secure credit cards.

"They advised me to go get secure credit cards and a secure loan to build my credit," Duffey said.

And Duffey says that's exactly what he did. He opened a secure credit card with Washington Mutual by mailing the company $500.

The $500 was essentially Duffey's credit limit.

"I paid the $500," he said. "They sent me a credit card in the mail just like a debit card. You can use it and you just pay your payments every month."

With things to buy for his family, it didn't take long to reach his $500 credit limit.

Regardless, he always made monthly payments to pay down that balance and by making monthly payments, he was improving his credit.

"So we'd use that to buy groceries," Duffey said. "You get a bill in the mail. You could either pay the minimum payment or you could pay the full amount, so we would at least pay half of it."

Things went well up until Washington Mutual joined Chase Bank recently.

"I got a letter in the mail from Chase Bank, who bought WaMu, saying that Chase Bank does not do secure credit cards," Duffey said.

As a result of the merger, the bank wanted Duffey to pay off his $500 balance.

But wait a minute. Duffey is the one who initially handed over $500 and even though most of that money was spent, he shouldn't have to mail them another $500.

That would be like paying twice.

Still, Duffey's account was sent to a debt collector.

"I tried to explain to them that no, it's a secure credit card," Duffey said. "I gave WaMu money. I don't owe them any money, but they just didn't understand that."

3 On Your Side got involved and asked Washington Mutual and Chase to look into the matter and after they did, they realized Duffey didn't owe them a penny.

So, they zeroed out his account and called off the debt collector.

I'm not quite sure why Chase thought Duffey owed them money and Chase wasn't eager to tell me either, but I do appreciate how quickly they looked into the matter for me and resolved things.