We recently surveyed 500 renters across the country and — not surprisingly — found out that most people are concerned about their credit score with the current Covid-19 pandemic. Not only are people concerned about their credit rating during these difficult times, but about half of the respondents told us that they’re not well-informed of what support and resources are available to them.
As we discussed in our last blog post, there are ways that landlords and lenders are offering leniency on late payments, which protects consumers from having their credit score affected by missed or late payments. There are also numerous resources available to renters facing financial hardship to help them navigate through these difficult times. If you’re worried about your own credit rating, below we’ve outlined five steps to take to work with your landlord and other creditors and keep your credit score intact during these difficult times.
- Pay what you can. If you have credit card debt and other bills, calculate how much you’re able to pay and try to at least pay the minimum amount due. Be sure to factor in your rent so that you can approach your landlord with an offer to pay a certain amount until your financial situation becomes more stable. Paying something is better than not paying at all – if at all possible.
- Talk to your lenders – and your landlord. We can’t say this enough. But it’s critical that you take proactive steps to communicate with your landlord and lenders to let them know your situation and find out what accommodations are available to you, and how you can work with them to keep your relationship and accounts in good standing. Before you assume the worst, have a conversation and see what your options are rather than simply not paying your rent or other bills and jeopardizing your reputation and credit-worthiness. If you need tips for how to talk to your lenders, TransUnion offers guidance on its website.
- Visit the credit agency websites for consumer support. The three major credit bureaus all offer consumer support services during the COVID-19 pandemic and have created special online resource centers to help address your questions and concerns. Visit Equifax, TransUnion and Experian for information about free credit reports, dispute resolution and other tools and support that are available to you. Equifax also posted a helpful video answering key questions about Covid-19 and credit.
- Look into support offered by federal and state governments. The USA.gov website has information available about how the CARES Act protects renters who can’t afford to pay rent through the end of July, which is available here. Additionally, you can check the website of your state government to find out what additional protections may be available to you, particularly if your rental unit isn’t covered by the CARES Act.
- Visit the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). The NFCC is a national non-profit organization that teams with local non-profit agencies around the country to help individuals build better financial health. The NFCC website has an online resource center specifically geared towards consumers who are impacted by COVID-19, which is available here. The site addresses numerous topics related to preserving your credit, establishing a budget, filing for unemployment and other areas of concern related to financial hardships caused by the pandemic.
Your rental payment history can help boost your credit score
Remember, if you are continuing to pay rent on time each month, RentReporters will report your rent history as well as your ongoing payments to the credit bureaus, allowing you to maximize and protect your credit score. Even if you are currently facing financial hardship but have a solid track record of paying your rent on-time, RentReporters reports the past two to four years of payment history, which will help you improve your credit score. For more information, visit https://www.rentreporters.com/how-we-help/how-to-report-rent-to-credit-bureaus/.