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**Consumer Alert** CFO Jimmy Patronis: Protecting Your Credit During COVID-19

4/15/2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis offers tips to protect your credit score as Floridians weather the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many financial institutions are offering payment relief options to ease the financial burden on households, but it is important to monitor your credit reports and communicate with lenders to ensure accurate credit reporting. CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “As Floridians are challenged by the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more vital that consumers monitor your credit report to ensure accuracy and check for signs of fraud. Many creditors are offering payment relief assistance during these challenging times, but you must also ensure that credit reporting agencies have the most accurate information to properly reflect your true credit history. Communication is key, and you must stay in contact with your lenders to correct any inaccuracies in your credit reports and report any signs of fraud immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com.” Representative Jackie Toledo said, “During these challenging times, it’s important that Floridians communicate with their lenders on payment relief options and also ensure that creditors are proactively helping consumers and accurately reporting information. Good credit should not be destroyed due to an unexpected global pandemic. Having a good credit history is key to a strong financial future and I thank CFO Patronis for working to protect Florida consumers and their credit during the COVID-19 response.” 4 Tips to Protect Your Credit During COVID-19 1. Check your credit report. Regularly monitor your credit report to help identify possible fraudulent or inaccurate activity and respond before it causes damage to your credit history and score. Each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies (also known as credit reporting companies) – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian – allow you to get your report for free once every twelve months. You can receive a free annual credit report by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. 2. Contact your lender. If you feel like you may miss a payment on an installment loan, or need to update your current pay date, contact your lender to explain your financial situation. Many lenders have announced proactive measures to help borrowers impacted by COVID-19. It is also vital that you work with your lender and check your credit reports to ensure relief options are reported to the credit bureaus accurately to protect your credit history. 3. Beware of "fast fixes" for accurate credit problems. If you've had any late payments, foreclosures, or repossessions, this information stays in your credit report for up to seven years. If you've filed for bankruptcy, this information can stay in your report for up to 10 years. Beware of companies claiming they can "fix" such problems for a fee. This may be a scam. 4. Report inaccuracies and fraud immediately. As you monitor your credit report, if you find inaccurate information you can file a dispute to the credit reporting agency and the company that provided that information to them. The sooner you dispute inaccurate information or report signs of fraud the better for your long-term credit health. ### About CFO Jimmy Patronis Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. El Oficial Principal de Finanzas Patronis trabaja todos los días para luchar contra el fraude de seguros, apoyar a los bomberos de la Florida y garantizar que las finanzas del estado sean estables para respaldar el crecimiento financiero del estado. Siga las actividades del Departamento en Facebook (FLDFS) y Twitter (@FLDFS).