How to Protect Your Credit Score
One thing is clear moving forward; your credit scores are going to be even more important in the days following the peak of the coronavirus emergency in America.
When that peak happens is not clear, but at the time of this writing, coronavirus infections are at one level in New York City, another level in Chicago, and yet a different level in Dallas. It’s going to take time to begin a full move toward recovering from the crisis, but those who take steps now (and later) to protect their credit will fare better than those who don’t.
A Rumor You Should Avoid
There is a great deal of speculation about credit requirements in the age of coronavirus; some news reports discussing the rise of FICO score requirements for certain home loans lead some to believe that perhaps the FHA and HUD are modifying the FHA loan program rules to require higher credit scores.
But at the time of this writing there is no official indication from HUD that this is happening or will happen. What IS happening? Participating lenders are allowed to require higher FICO scores than the FHA minimums and some of those lenders may be revising their credit score rules in the emergency.
Will those alterations be permanent? Do they affect all borrowers? Much depends on your individual circumstances but you should know that it pays to shop around for a lender, especially now when some may be raising those credit requirements.
Planning Ahead Helps
No one knows how long the mortgage market may be affected by coronavirus issues, but if you are considering a loan in the future, planning ahead always helps but NOW it may be a requirement for you to start saving and budgeting earlier for best results. Don’t delay in working to protect your credit score, especially during the crisis, but taking the following steps:
- Contact all creditors if you think you are going to miss or be late on a payment.
- Try to pay all bills on time or make arrangements with your creditor (see above).
- Don’t miss a payment without contacting the creditor.
- Avoid running up high balances on your cards--the percentage of credit you use counts.
- Avoid taking out new credit.
During coronavirus containment measures you may hear about programs offering to suspend monthly payment, but remember that unless you make arrangements with the creditor, you don’t have any true protection for your credit score--it’s likely any payment relief options offered will require you to contact the company to opt-in.
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