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Tips on protecting your credit score during the COVID-19 crisis

Tips on protecting your credit score during the COVID-19 crisis
Posted at 12:28 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 15:52:18-04

It's important to protect your credit score in any way you can during the coronavirus pandemic. One thing that will help is knowing where you stand with that score.

The three major credit-reporting agencies are now letting you check your credit report every week for free. You typically can only check once a year for free. This change is in effect through April of next year at AnnualCreditReport.com.

“If you're on a forbearance program with your mortgage lender or in a credit card payment deferment, your account should not show that you're falling behind or that you're missing payments,” said Bruce McClary with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). “It should appear as though the account is paid up to date and it will show the balance and it will show the accurate status of the account.”

Keep in mind though, if you were already past due when you entered the deferment program, that will still show up.

Some lawmakers are pushing for more protections. One bill proposes putting a four-month moratorium on all negative credit reporting. But for now, it’s up to you to protect your credit.

“Make sure you're contacting anyone you owe and you're trying to activate any special arrangements that can allow you to skip payments without penalty,” said McClary.

With any payments you have to keep making, make sure you're making them on time if you can. A big part of your credit score is determined by how you manage your accounts.

We've told you how some credit cards are decreasing their credit limits. If you have multiple credit card accounts and some of them aren't even being used, you can divide that balance up across different lines of credit. That will give you a more evenly dispersed debt ratio. That reduces the risk of your credit limit lowering having a negative impact on your credit score.

The NFCC is a free resource if you need help with any of this.