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Equifax offers free credit reports to shutdown-affected workers

Summary

If you’ve been affected by the government shutdown, you might be eligible for a free credit report from Equifax.

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Equifax will supply consumers affected by the recent government shutdown with free credit reports through April.

The credit bureau announced Feb. 1 it is offering this service, which you can access here, in addition to the yearly free report it must provide to all consumers.

Consumers will not have to provide a credit card to access their reports, and Equifax will also supply answers to frequently asked questions and provide educational information.

Equifax’s offer for furloughed federal workers is good for 90 days. For the shutdown that ended Jan. 25, the service is available through April 25.

See related: 4 credit card tips for families affected by the government shutdown

The backstory

Almost 800,000 federal government workers did not get paid on time from Dec. 22, 2018, through Jan. 25, 2019.

Being affected by the partial shutdown in itself will not harm your credit score; only late or missed payments will. And one late payment can remain on your report for seven years.

A late payment typically doesn’t show up on your report for at least 30 days, so if you can make it up before then, you might have to pay only interest and late payment fees.

But some creditors are offering shutdown-affected consumers short-term loans, waiving late fees, allowing interest-only payments and even enabling them to make no payments for a time.

“While the government has re-opened, consumers may be just starting to see the effects a missed or late payment has on their credit history,” Mark Begor, CEO of Equifax said in a news release.

“We recognize the stress this situation may have caused for so many, and we are eager to assist furloughed federal employees, contractors, their families and communities during an extremely challenging time,” Begor added.

How to protect your credit if you’re affected by the shutdown

  • If your situation is preventing you from making on-time payments, communicate with your lenders and creditors before they contact you. It’s possible they might make an exception in your case or even modify your financial contract agreement.
  • Review your credit report and make sure all of the information is correct. Pay special attention to your payment histories and other account information.
  • If you contacted your lender about not making on-time payments and you made an arrangement with that lender, make sure your recent history reflects that agreement.
  • Consider adding a 100-word consumer statement explaining your situation to your credit report.

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