SAN ANTONIO – There is reason to check your credit reports if you made allowable deferred payments for homes, cars, college, credit cards and more during the COVID-19 pandemic. If the payments were reported as late, it could negatively hurt your credit score.
The Cares Act passed by Congress in March 2020 was a lifeline to many people who’d lost their paychecks. Companies that offered federally-backed mortgages and student loans granted deferred payments with no impact to the borrower’s credit score. Some car financers and credit card companies voluntarily did the same to help cash-strapped people.
But, instead of listing the accounts as current, a Consumer Reports investigation found some companies reported those deferred payments as late, a mistake that can have a big impact on a credit score.
“In terms or trying to get credit cards, mortgage or even a student loan, that can be the difference between getting a good rate, a bad rate or no loan at all,” said Lisa Gill of Consumer Reports.
Credit reporting errors aren’t that unusual. One study found one in four people has at least one mistake on their reports. And, complaints about the issue to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have reached record highs.
“This is a problem that existed long before the pandemic, but it’s an even bigger deal today because so many people have been affected by the crisis,” Gill said.
To check for errors, log on to annualcreditreport.com to get free copies of your credit reports from all three bureaus, Experian, Equifax and Transunion. If you find an error, dispute it in writing and send the letter and any supporting documentation by certified mail. It can take at least 30 days to get a response, so it’s wise to keep checking until the error is fixed.