How the pandemic could negatively impact your credit score

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The CARES Act, passed by Congress last March, has allowed many consumers to defer payments on credit cards and some mortgages and student loans. But some banks and credit card companies have falsely reported that these deferred payments are late, which could worsen the financial situation of those hardest hit by the pandemic. Consumer Reports investigates the issue and reveals what you need to do to check and clean your credit report.

Even a small mistake on your credit report can have a huge impact on your credit score. When it comes to trying to get a credit card, mortgage, or student loan, it can be the difference between getting a good rate, a bad rate, or no loan at all.

Credit report errors are common. One study found that 1 in 4 people had at least one error in their reports. And complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about credit report errors have reached record levels.

This is a problem that existed long before the pandemic, but it is even more serious now because so many people have been affected by the crisis and are perhaps seeking financial stability more than ever.

So what can you do Go to annualcreditreport.com to get your credit report from the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Then if you find an error, dispute it with each credit Company. Do it in writing and send your letter and all supporting documents by certified mail.

After alerting the credit bureaus to the errors, Consumer Reports says it will likely take at least 30 days to get a response, so keep checking your report to confirm the error has been corrected.

Do you want to participate in Consumer Reports research? If you’ve seen a recent report, let CR know what you found at CR-dot-org-slash-credit-check-up (CR.org/creditcheckup).

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