Taking care of your health, protecting your family and providing basic household needs are probably at the top of your priority list during COVID-19. Yet, in the midst of everything else occupying your thoughts these days, it’s critical to protect your credit score as well.
Here are a couple strategies that you can use to keep your credit in the best shape possible until life returns to our new normal.
- Pay all your bills on time if possible. 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.
- Contact your lenders and creditors to see if any assistance is available. If you know you can’t pay all your bills at this time, contact your lenders and creditors and ask about hardship options as soon as possible—ideally before you miss a payment. When you ask your creditor or lender about an assistance program, be sure to understand any additional fees that may be involved as well as how interest calculations may be affected.
- 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.
- Stay up-to-date on your credit reports. Checking your Equifax and TransUnion credit reports regularly is one of the best ways you can monitor your credit standing. Reviewing the report will help you understand your credit position, ensure accounts are being reported accurately, and possibly identify inaccurate or incomplete information.
- Dispute inaccurate credit information. If you see anything that doesn’t look correct on your credit report, you can dispute information online with the credit bureau.
- 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.
- Make a budget and plan ahead. 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.
The Bottom Line
COVID-19 may leave lasting effects on the economic picture, but it doesn’t need to impact your personal credit score. Take proactive steps to prevent any negative consequences for your credit score.
More Resources to Help you
To help you find the resources you need, I’ve compiled a list of websites providing relief and useful consumer information.
- Equifax: COVID-19
- TransUnion: COVID-19
- Government of Canada: Managing Financial Health during COVID-19
- Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre: COVID-19
Tatum Neufeld, BComm
Mortgage Broker • Mortgage Tailors