Saturday, September 26
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Protecting Your Credit From COVID-19

COVID-19 is something you think about from the moment you wake to the moment you sleep. Chances are, your life has drastically changed in the past few weeks due to this virus.

It’s caused economic uncertainty, job loss, and sickness, and stress. Right now, we don’t know how long COVID-19 will last. While millions have already lost their jobs, millions more will follow suit.

By the end, it looks like a large portion of the country could be out of work and relying on what money they have in the bank as well as their current credit score.

So, what can we do? How can we protect ourselves and our credit scores from COVID-19? Let’s talk about that today – your coronavirus credit score survival kit.

Set Up a Directory on Your Computer

Keep all the information you have about your credit score, loans, and bills. This folder and spreadsheet should have screenshots, texts, emails, photos, recordings, letters, and invoices.

You want to be able to get your hands on these documents whenever you need them. If they are all over the place, you might miss an opportunity while looking for an email or bill. You want this to be simple.

Reach Out to Your Creditors

For each recurring payment you have, look at the cost. Can you handle that payment right now? If you need that cash in hand to eat or pay rent, then you need to find an alternative to paying for your loans and debts. Call or email each and ask for an extension due to COVIS-19.

If possible, show them why you’re having a hard time. Some might ask for proof that you’ve been laid off or are having payment issues. This is where your directory comes into play. Also, keep in mind that your interest might continue to build during this time. Now all creditors are deferring interest-free. However, most larger institutions have a process already set up that MIGHT include interest-free as well.

Verify the Terms of Your Alternative Payment Plan

Before you begin, check the website of your creditor. See if they have a COVID-19 deferment plan. Learn ahead of time what they are offering and how that will impact you. Once you call, ask for this (or better) and make sure you understand precisely what you will be getting (whether that or something else.)

Ask at least twice for them to confirm what your next due date will be and for how much. Confirm whether it’s interest-free or interest included. Finally, make sure that you know how this will impact your repayment overall. Will you have to pay for longer? By how much?

Know Your Representative

While you should make sure to know early, at least before the end of the call, make sure you understand who you’re talking to. Ask them for their employee ID as well as their name. Confirm they work for or represent the business that you are trying to work with.

This is a time when recording can come in vital. If you’ve recorded the whole conversation, this will serve as proof that someone at the company offered you a deal and confirmed with you about this deal multiple times.

Obtain Confirmation Documents

Before you end the conversation with the creditor, ask them to send confirmation documents that show what you’ve agreed to. If possible, do not hang up the phone until you have the confirmation email and required documentation on your phone or computer.

Having as much evidence as possible can protect you should your creditors decide they want their money back or that they don’t like the deal they made. When you get this evidence, make sure to save it in your database so that you know exactly where it is later.

Monitor Your Credit

If you aren’t doing this already, now is the time to start. After the phone call from above, there’s still a chance that your creditor will report your missed payment to the credit bureau. If this happens, your proof should come into play.

Send the recording and confirmation emails and documents to your credit bureau and creditor as a dispute. Make a copy of this dispute and add it to your directory for safekeeping. Remember, keep all your documents, you never know when you’ll need proof that what you say is true.

Contact a Trusted Attorney

With all that in mind, it might still take years and court for you to maintain the credit score you’ve worked for. Contact Lyngklip & Associates, Southfield’s consumer law attorneys, at (248) 208-8864 or through our online contact form to make an appointment to discuss your situation.

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