From Stolen Credit to an 831 Credit Score – My Story


Hi! I’m Kat.  I work for Rena-Fi, Inc. I’ve been here since its inception.  I actually filed all the corporate paperwork, so you could say I’ve been here since before the beginning.

I may have some fancy titles, but I’m really and truly just a regular middle-class American gal. I’ve been through some financial hardships, and that’s what I’m bringing to the table today in order to relate to you, not about my job, but my struggle with money.

I was fresh out of college and was in that blissful state of no longer being the broke college student because I had real income, few expenses, and in the grace period where I hadn’t yet needed to start paying on my student loans. Life was good.

Then, like most stories, that fateful day happened. I was in my apartment when I got a call from an attorney – I was being sued. Really? I was dumbfounded and quite sure Mr. Attorney had the wrong gal. After we spoke some more, and the details were relayed, I realized my identity had been hacked. Now here’s the kicker – it was my dad, who I had lived with for three years prior to going off to college.

I was faced with two options, press charges to get the huge blip removed off of what should be my pristinely blank credit, or deal with the implications for seven years. I chose the latter for personal reasons and total inexperience at confrontation of this magnitude.

In those seven years, I faced additional hardships including my student loans being drastically increased because my dad claimed me as a dependent and he lived out of state from the college I was attending to a bout with cancer and losing my job after treatment. I was twenty-three and had bills piling up, no job and crummy credit.

I had been in all the advanced classes in high school as it related to math – I understood numbers. What I didn’t know were the basic financial skills like balancing a checkbook, budgeting and so on. I couldn’t have possibly planned or learned about life happening in the most unexpected ways.

Sure, I faced dire circumstances and huge bills, but the one thing I did was pay every bill on time, no matter what. The seven years bad credit blip eventually disappeared and then my student loans went by the wayside as well. It took tremendous time and due diligence, but to this day, the habit is now second nature.

Fast forward to a few months ago – my husband and I were entertaining the idea of a bigger home. We have 900 square feet to our name with two kids and a menagerie of animals. To say it’s cozy is an understatement. On a fact-finding mission, I pulled my free credit score to see what kind of home loan we could procure. Could it be? My credit score was 831. Now, I’m not sure how much you know about credit scores, but even if you don’t know a thing, they usually have a handy slider to tell you Poor – Exceptional. I somehow landed in the exceptional column and have been hanging there for a while now. Total excite.

Since working for Rena-Fi, I’m proud of some habits that we are teaching that I’ve already got nailed down. But (and it’s a big but), I’ve also realized that even with exceptional credit, I’ve still got a lot to learn – how to budget, how to save, how to plan for retirement. Basic life skills that aren’t really taught anywhere and I want my kids to grow up knowing and excelling at. It means I need to be a living example, which is super hard when you’re seemingly set in your ways.

Kat Nielsen and family
Kat with her kids. The future is within her hands, so great care must be taken.

Every person who has a hand at getting this article to our blog, to everyone reading it; YOU are why Rena-Fi exists. Not a single one of us working at Rena-Fi, myself included, is perfect. We are creating materials to teach you the lessons we’ve learned so you don’t necessarily have to live through the hardships. If you do have to face hardships, we want to give you the ability to tread water instead of sinking. We also want to teach you about the areas which are our own given weaknesses so we can learn together.

I hope as time goes along you’ll want to share your own story but also share the lessons you’ve learned too. It’s really why this company was created to empower the individual in a community setting.

Kat Nielsen is the author of this article and is the Vice President of Operations for Rena-Fi, Inc. Learn more about her and the team at

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