Consumer rights during the pandemic

Check your credit report free — now once per week

Until April 2021, you can access your free credit reports once per week instead of once per year.

You have the right to check your credit reports for free once time per year under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You can request your free reports from the three major credit report agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) at annualcreditreport.com. (What is a credit report?)

If your lender OKs a delayed payment, it cannot show as “late” on your credit report

Now, you can request a free credit report once per week. This lasts until April 2021. The reason: Because of COVID-19, Congress passed temporary consumer protections (the CARES Act). One part of the law protects your credit report. If you and your creditor agree that you can delay or modify payments (“forbearance”) because of COVID-19, your credit report cannot show it as a “late payment.” Late payments hurt your credit score.

Frequent checks can help you make sure this rule is followed.

Federally-backed mortgages and student loans are required to grant forebearances during the COVID-19 economic emergency. Other lenders or landlords are not required to grant a forbearance. However, many of them are approving delays. Contact them to discuss it.

Caution: You can only benefit from this rule if your lender agrees to a forebearance ahead of time. If you just skip payments without getting approval first, the delays will show up on your credit report.

If you check your report and find an error, dispute it with the credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, or Transunion). This requires them to reinvestigate it. If they fail to reinvestigate it, you may able to sue to force them to fix it.

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