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Your credit reports and credit scores play an important role in your current and future financial opportunities. That's why managing and protecting your credit during the coronavirus pandemic is crucial.
If you encounter financial hardships, there are options that can help you mitigate the potential impact on your credit scores. Credit bureaus and lenders are committed to working with consumers. Now many lenders are flexible when it comes to consumers' making payments. Even more, lenders are encouraged to continue to voluntarily provide payment relief to consumers and to report accurate information to credit bureaus relating to this relief.
However, as it often happens, errors may occur. That's why it is important to check credit reports regularly, which has become easier as you can now request free copies of your credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus once a week at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Here are general best practices to help minimize the impact of COVID-19 on your credit standing:
- If possible, make all your payments on time. Continue making at least your minimum monthly payments to ensure your scores stay strong.
- Ask for help. If you are unable to make even minimum payments on time, you should contact your lenders and creditors and see if any assistance is available. Many lenders have the option to suppress a late payment, which can help maintain your credit scores.
- Monitor your credit accounts and credit history. Staying up to date on your credit reports is especially true now. You can register with one of the multiple online services to monitor all your reports in one place, or you can get a free copy of your credit reports every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com. Regularly monitoring your credit reports can help you identify potentially fraudulent activity and prevent it before it causes significant damage to your credit.
- Report and dispute inaccurate information. If you find inaccurate information on your credit reports, you can use this CFPB's guide to dispute that information with the credit bureau and the company that provided that information to them.
- Consider adding a consumer statement to your credit reports. If you experience financial distress, you can add a brief statement to your reports to explain your financial situation.