The current economic state is uncertain and precarious. COVID-19 will undoubtedly have an impact on consumers’ lives and finances — to what extent is still unknown. Now is a critical time for people to take the appropriate actions to protect and monitor their credit health. Credit unions are well known for their dedication to the communities they serve and are in the best position to be the resource everyone needs right now.
What should credit unions be telling their members?
Review your credit score and credit report on a regular basis.
Monitoring your credit score and credit report is just as important as monitoring your checking account balance. Noticing a sudden drop in your checking account balance without any action on your part is a major indicator that there could be fraudulent activity on your account. The same goes for your credit. Do a monthly review to ensure that all information in your credit file is accurate, and immediately dispute any inaccuracies with the bureaus before it has a negative impact on your score. Being proactive is always better.
Sign up for a free credit monitoring service.
Similarly, it’s important to have a free credit monitoring service working behind the scenes and in between your periodic reviews. That way you’re immediately notified of any unexpected changes or activity that could negatively impact your credit. In today’s tech-savvy world, these alerts are practically real-time, giving you the ability to stop fraudsters in their tracks. Growing unemployment and financial strain will increase fraudulent activity and could increase your chances of being hacked or scammed, so stay vigilant.
Monitor your rates to find better savings.
Leading experts always recommend having a rainy-day fund for times such as these. Did you ever think that your savings could be hidden in that auto loan of yours? Maybe in your mortgage or credit cards you can’t seem to pay off? Rates are at historic lows, which means it’s the perfect time to revisit the interest rates you are paying. Contact your trusted financial institution to inquire about the possibility of refinancing your credit card debt into a fixed low-rate personal loan. A simple auto or mortgage refinance can shave dollars, sometimes hundreds, off your monthly payment. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to do so, use the market to your advantage. For those of you struggling to make ends meet, contact your financial institution to see what assistance packages are available to you.
Staying on top of your credit is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your loved ones. Your current credit decisions will have an impact on your finances today and for years to come, long after COVID-19 is gone. A late payment can stay on your credit report for up to seven years and costs the average person hundreds, if not thousands more in interest. Stay savvy, stay vigilant, and stay healthy.