Verify correct reporting of COVID-19 debt payments with free weekly credit reports

The CARES Act has several provisions to protect the credit history of consumers who take suspend or negotiate debt payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Which debts must be reported as “current” on your credit report?

If your mortgage is owned or backed by the US government and you experience financial hardship due to the pandemic, you can request reduced or no payments for 180 days. If the hardship continues, you can request an extension of up to another 180 days. To figure out if your mortgage qualifies, go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The lender should report your account to the credit reporting agencies as “current.”

Student loans owned by the federal government are automatically suspended from March 13 through September 30, 2020. These loans should also be reported to the credit reporting agencies as “current.”

If you negotiated a payment agreement for other types of debt between January 31 and July 25, 2020 and you were current at the time the agreement was made, that account should also be reported as “current.”

How can you be sure that happened?

Equifax, Experian and Transunion (the three major credit reporting agencies in the US) are providing free credit reports once a week through April 2021. To get your reports, use the same site where you go for your free annual credit reports: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/.

If debts that should be listed as “current” are not being reported that way, contact the lender and ask for it to be corrected. If that doesn’t work, dispute the information with the credit reporting agency where you got the report. Then continue using those free weekly credit reports to verify that the problem is taken care of.

Posted in COVID-19/coronavirus including CARES Act, Credit history and credit score

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Freeze Your Credit Reports for Free

As of September 21, 2018, anyone can freeze, unfreeze, or temporarily thaw a credit report for free. You must do this separately with each of the three major credit reporting agencies:

Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services or 800-685-1111

Experian.com/help or 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)

TransUnion.com/credit-help or 888-909-8872

How will the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 affect you?

There are lots of moving parts to the new tax law, making it difficult to know how it will affect you beginning in 2018.  In three posts that I wrote for University of Illinois Extension’s Plan Well – Retire Well blog, I explain these changes.

  1. To see how your 2018 return will compare to your 2017, Check this head-to-head, line-by-line comparison of your 2017 and 2018 tax returns
  2. To understand how the changes will affect you, you need to know something about Tax Rates
  3. Other changes include Inflation Adjustments, IRAs, 529 Plans, ABLE Accounts, Student Loans, & Estate Tax
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