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Bottom Line: Pandemic may be hurting your credit score

Updated: Mar. 16, 2021 at 7:52 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC/CONSUMER REPORTS) -- The CARES Act, passed by Congress last March, allowed many consumers to defer payments on federally backed mortgages and student loans. But some banks and credit card companies have erroneously reported those deferred payments as late, potentially making a tough financial situation even worse for those hit hardest by the pandemic.

Consumer Reports investigates the serious problem and reveals what you need to do to check and clean up your credit report.

At the onset of the pandemic the Federal government offered a lifeline of sorts -- Companies that offer federally backed loans, including student loans and mortgages, along with some credit cards and car loans offered payment deferrals to some consumers who were struggling to make ends meet—with no impact on their credit score.

But instead of listing accounts as current, some companies reported those deferred payments as late, an error that can have lasting impact on your credit!

“Even a small error on your credit report can have a huge impact on your credit score,” said Lisa Gill, Consumer Reports investigative reporter. “And in terms of 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.”

Credit reporting errors are common -- One study found that one in four people have at least one error on 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’s an even bigger deal today because so many people have been affected by the crisis,” said Gill.”

So what can you do? Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get your credit report from all three credit bureaus -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Then, if you find an error, dispute it with each credit bureau. Do it in writing and send your letter and any supporting documents using certified mail.

After you alert the credit bureaus of the errors, Consumer Reports says it will likely take at least 30 days to get an answer, so continue to check your report to confirm that the error has been fixed.

“Consumer Reports TV News” is published by Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization that does not accept advertising and does not have any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site

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