With all the daily details we have to pay attention to, we really don’t need one more thing to keep track of, but have you thought about your credit during Covid-19? I know—it’s been five months since the initial sheltering in place order and we’re still in the middle of a pandemic that seems never-ending—but when this ends (and it will) let’s make sure we come out as best we can. Thinking about your credit is important for a healthy financial future.
There’s an unfortunate reality to COVID-19; while we’ve been on lockdown, so have hackers and other bad actors who are running scams, so more than ever, we want to be vigilant or even hyper-vigilant about our finances and credit. The good news is that there is help.
One of my favorite characters on television was Penny from The Big Bang Theory. If you don’t know the character, she was an aspiring actress who worked at the Cheesecake Factory while waiting for her big acting break. The engine light in her car came on and her “fix” was to put a piece of black duct tape over the engine light. It was a funny episode but I thought about how many times I duct-taped my finances. That never has solved the problem!
The big three credit bureaus are offering a huge leg up in helping everyone catch credit issues quickly…you know, as soon as the engine light comes on.
If you don’t already know, by law everyone is permitted a free copy of their credit report annually from Experion, Trans Union and Equifax. The catch is you have to ask! But during this time, you can get a WEEKLY free credit report until April 2021 at AnnualCreditReport.com . You’ll be able to catch errors and mistakes on your credit report in almost real-time and make sure your credit information is accurate. You’ll also be able to monitor any positive history that could boost your score to make sure it’s reported accurately.
During this extraordinary time we have seen a lot of hardship and relief programs for businesses and households. The CARES Act was passed in March to help those whose lives have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Many households are still dealing with the impact of unemployment and reduced income. As tempting as it may be during a financial crisis to ignore your credit, it’s vital that learn to protect your credit -- especially during COVID.
While your credit report doesn’t contain your credit score, (you have the option of purchasing that separately when you get your credit report) the information in your credit report is what impacts your score. Understanding your credit score is important. When you know the things that make a healthy credit score, you can work to make sure your credit report is healthy so your score reflects that health.
There are five main factors that make up your credit score:
Keeping an eye on your credit report regularly allows you to see where the problem areas are in any of these areas and create an action plan to address them. You may not have the income to address every financial issue right now, but you can start financial goal setting to help get you back on track as your finances improve.
During this time when there is difficult news everyday, it’s a good thing to be able to realize that your credit during COVID-19 doesn’t have to suffer. Take advantage of your free credit reports and use this time to build an action plan for addressing any problem areas -- you’ll be on the right track for a healthy financial future.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, CESI is here to help. Our counselors are available to assist if you are experiencing job loss, temporary loss of income or financial hardship during this time. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. empowers people to overcome their financial challenges and lead financially-healthy lives.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY