How to Protect Your Credit During the Covid-19 Pandemic?

The COVID -19 pandemic has caused many people to lose their jobs or be furloughed. One of the first things you should think about is to protect your credit. And, with so much uncertainty in the world today, having good credit can help you achieve your goals and live the American dream as it should be.

But many of us have fallen on hard times and we can’t pay our bills on time. So, what do we do? The first thing to do is to contact your credit lenders.

Be honest and tell them about your situation and they should be more than willing to help you with deferring payment program and to reduce interest rates.

It’s imperative to keep your credit in good standing. Most importantly, you need it  if you  fall back on again in hard times. Having good credit always will come through for you. You may need a loan for a car or to rent a place or buy a home. And, when you’re buying a home, you’ll get the best home loan rates.

Bad credit will only make it tougher to rebound through hard times.  Think of good credit like a winning stock in your portfolio. Its’ one of the best investments you can give yourself.

The most important thing to is not to miss a payment. If you can’t make the full payment, then you should contact your lender and work something out for lesser payment per month. While this may extend the time, you have to pay off the loan, at the least, it will keep you from receiving a 30-day late payment on your credit report.  

Should I work with a credit repair agency ?

So now you are in debt and your’re feeling scared. The burden placing a heavy weigh on your shoulders. Read up on The Credit Repair Organizations Act . It is a federal law that was put into place in 1997. The law protects consumers using these agencies against scams. This Act, Title IV of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, prohibits untrue or misleading representations and requires certain affirmative disclosures in the offering or sale of “credit repair” services.

The Act bars companies offering credit repair services from demanding advance payment, requires that credit repair contracts be in writing, and gives consumers certain contract cancellation rights.It is advised to  work with such as as NFCC. The services can be free, or they may charge a nominal fee.

Relax and take a deep breath because many of us are in the same situation, and you’re not going through this alone.

Check your check your local and state governments provisions regarding temporary laws that have been put into place to prevent eviction. Refer to The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) for more information. If these options are not available to you  because they have either already exhausted or not extended, then think of downsizing your situation and moving to a less expensive home.

The transition at first may be difficult but you’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing that your bills will be paid and that will help take the stress off your life. It’s better for rise from a temporary fall than a big permanent one.

More ways to protect my credit- it’s called the side hustle.

ere are other things you can do to protect your credit such as becoming more creative in the work that you can do for extra income. While some of these jobs may not be the most high-paying, they will certainly help pay some of the smaller bills that you get every month.  Two sites that can help you find side-hustle jobs that match your skills are Oberlo and Side Hustle Nation.

Having issues paying your car loan?

If you have a high car payment and you are not in a lease, inquire with the lender if you can refinance the car and get a cheaper monthly payment. If worse comes to worse, and you happen to be in a high-paying lease, there are websites that you can visit to get out of your lease. You list your car so somebody can take over the lease for you. You would need have this approved by the lender first and the dealership that you purchased the car company from.

There may be provisions in your contract that prevent you from doing so- so read the fine print and talk directly to the lender. It is recommended to call the dealership first if you can- they may have some options that may work for your situation.

 Auto factories shut down for weeks during the beginning of the health pandemic and inventory has been low. Used cars are in high demand so check your cars worth up against the equity you have in your car.

Check out websites like Leasetrader, Swaplease .  You may find a great deal that is more affordable than your current lease. Make sure that you read the fine print and check these websites at the Better Business Bureau and look at their reviews. Reviews are a great a great way to gauge a company’s reliability and  trustworthiness.

What if I can’t make my house payment?

 Some lenders will be able to place your loans in deferment or forbearance. This means you won’t have to make a loan payment during the agreed amount time and the lender will cease to report any late payments to the credit bureaus.

Once you make this request to your lender it will minimize the impact to your credit score as long as your account is still current and in good standing- and hasn’t been delinquent prior to this request. It’s imperative that you contact your bank to request this forgiveness as soon as possible.

What is the best way for me to monitor my credit?

 Being vigilant is the first step. If you get a derogatory dent on your profile you can be aware of it before it goes into collections status. You can dispute the line item  or call the lender to work something out to have them remove the negative statement on your account.  

 Identity theft can happen at any time. Monitoring your credit report will alert you to any changes in your report immediately by text or email notification. If identity theft does happen, you can put a security freeze on your credit profile. This will  prevent others from getting your information and applying for credit using your information.

Due to the many data breaches that have happened over the past few years, many credit bureaus offer credit monitoring at no charge. You can also pull your credit report for free from some agencies. By law. Starting  in 2020, everyone in the U.S. can get 6 free credit reports per year through 2026 by visiting the Equifax website or by calling 1-866-349-5191. That’s in addition to the one free Equifax report (plus your Experian and TransUnion reports) you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com. Source: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports

Debt Management: Is it For Me?

Creating a debt management plan and talking to a credit counselor who is certified can be of help. Having a third eye work with you about your credit situation will help you can help you see things more clearly and advise you on how to effectively manage your plan. Working with a debt management company can help take the emotional burden a little bit off your shoulders knowing that somebody else is there to help you and guide you through it.

How to cut weekly expenses.

Food is a big part of our weekly spending budget. Now that we are more home than ever do to COVID-19 lock downs in many states, this is a chance to get more creative with your food habits. Of course, you’re saving money by not going out to restaurants all the time. You can cook extremely healthy affordable meals at home to save money.

Start focusing on a healthier diet including more vegetables and grains and you won’t have to spend as much money on meat. There are many healthy recipes out there that can give you a high amount of protein using vegetables and rice. They can be very tasty and delicious, and you may even lose weight and gain more energy. Remember, there’s always a bright light at the end of the tunnel.  Changing up your diet plan to avoiding eating high-calorie foods.  You’re now investing not only in your budget but in your health.

Many gyms are closed so you’re saving money right there and you’re not paying a monthly gym fee. Get creative and start doing some outdoor exercise. Make sure you call your gym to make sure your membership is not being charged when the gyms are closed for long periods of time. You want to make sure that you’re saving as much money as you can and even that $20 to $100 payment is what’s makes a big difference when you’re not working.

Using some of the tips above can be extremely helpful to get through hard times.  You may be surprised at how well they work for you.

Image  Gerd Altmann Pixabay

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