Struggling consumers report impacts to credit scores despite forbearance programs

Jeff Ehling Image
Friday, March 5, 2021
Credit scores take dive over late payment glitches
A program designed to help people manage their monthly payments during the pandemic is causing some credit scores to fall.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- If you were offered a loan deferment or forbearance on your debts, you'll want to check your credit report because those paused payments may show up as missing or late.

Those errors can have a big impact on your credit score.

Paying bills got a lot harder during the pandemic for countless people, and lenders were quick to offer a lifeline in the form of deferments or forbearances.

Those options allow you to skip a few payments without causing long-term problems.

Some who took those offers are now reporting to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that paused payments are showing up on their credit reports as missing or late. That can ruin your credit score, and you may not know it's even happening until you check your credit report.

If you dispute an error, you'll need to prove the lender offered you the pause in the form of a written agreement.

"If you don't do that additional step, you can say 'I requested a forbearance,' but if you do not sign back that agreement, then you do not have the proof in writing that you were actually given that forbearance," said Ryan Marquez of the University of Houston Law Clinic.

There are three credit reporting bureaus, and you can request a free copy from each of them every week because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To find out more on disputing errors on your credit report, the Federal Trade Commission has more details here.

Tips on how to write a formal dispute letter are available at

Credit reporting agencies work behind the scenes, but they know a lot about you, according to Consumer Reports. Banks, credit card and mortgage companies, auto lenders, and others send the agencies data about the payment and borrowing activity of millions of consumers every day. Whether you pay a loan or debt on time, you've sought to open a new line of credit, even information about old credit card accounts, all of this gets captured under rules governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970.

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