While your health and welfare are top priorities, you may also be concerned about how current economic conditions might affect your financial situation. We encourage you to be proactive in monitoring your credit, staying on top of your finances, and using resources that may be available to you.
With that in mind, here are some steps you can take now to help keep your credit on solid footing.
Especially now, making sure your credit reports are accurate is critical. This way, you can identify any potentially fraudulent activity and respond to it before it damages your credit. You should check your credit reports with all three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). You can get a free copy of your credit report from each bureau once every 12 months.
While we know it may get difficult, try to make at least your minimum debt payments by their due date every month to avoid hurting your credit score. Do your best to make your payments on time, even if you're only meeting your creditors' minimum requirements.
If you know you can't pay all your bills at this time, contact your lenders and ask about hardship options as soon as possible—ideally before you miss a payment. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many lenders are putting policies in place to help customers who may need extra time to pay their bills.
Lenders may be able to temporarily lower your interest rate or payment amount, or pause your payments for some time. Lenders may also be able to place your loans in deferment or forbearance. You don't have to make loan payments when a loan is in deferment or forbearance, and the lender will not report late payments to the credit bureaus.
Contact your service providers. If you don't think you can pay your utility, cell phone, cable or other monthly bills, reach out to your providers to see if they offer flexible payment options during this time.
Be extra vigilant about protecting your identity. Identity theft and related scams often spike during times of crisis, so it's especially important now to protect your personal information.
If you think current conditions could impact your income or finances, consider tightening your budget to help make sure you have enough funds to cover your expenses. Making a budget and sticking to it is a sound strategy at any time, but especially when your finances may take an unplanned hit.