Managing Your Credit Through a Financial Hardship

Blog Post03/29/2019
Credit Advice
Managing Your Credit through a Financial Hardship

If you’re experiencing financial difficulty, you’re not alone. You can protect your credit by taking action, even if you’ve been hit by unexpected events like losing a job or a natural disaster that make paying your bills tough. TransUnion is here to help you understand what you can do to help manage your credit through this stressful time.

  1. What should I do if I’m having a hard time making payments on my bills or loans due to a financial hardship?

    The first thing you should do is contact your lenders to explain your situation. You can find contact information for your lenders on your most recent bill or on your credit report.

  2. How does TransUnion help people affected by a financial hardship?

    TransUnion always offers a free credit protection product called TrueIdentity. If you sign up for TrueIdentity, you will get: credit monitoring and alerts, your TransUnion credit report and credit lock. These tools will help you keep track of any changes to your credit information and give you peace of mind.

  3. Why should I check my credit report if I’m going through a financial hardship?

    It may be a good idea to check your credit report to make sure all your account information is correct. This way, if you contact your lenders to discuss your financial situation and/or account, they will have correct data.

  4. What should I ask/tell my lenders if I am unable to make a payment?

    We know this situation isn’t easy. If you can’t make a payment on time, contact your lender and explain your circumstances. You can ask whether they offer their customers hardship or forbearance plans.

    These questions might help you in your conversation with your creditors:
    • Does your company offer a forbearance/hardship program?
    • What are the criteria to apply for forbearance or hardship?
    • Is there a difference between forbearance, deferral or hardship?
    • How long does it take for a forbearance/hardship to take effect?
    • Will fees (i.e. late, overdraft) be assessed while I’m in forbearance/hardship?
    • How is interest being calculated while I’m in forbearance/hardship?
    • How is my account reported to the credit bureaus while I’m in forbearance/hardship?
  5. What does having an account in forbearance mean?

    Having an account in forbearance usually means your lender has agreed that you can temporarily stop making payments on that account for a certain amount of time.

  6. Do all lenders offer hardship/forbearance options?

    You’ll need to contact your specific lenders to find out. You will most likely find their contact information on your latest statement, or on your credit report.

  7. How are hardship/forbearance accounts reported to the credit reporting agencies? How will this show up on my credit report?

    It’s up to lenders to decide how they’re going to report accounts to credit reporting agencies. You should contact your specific lender for more information.

  8. What is the difference between a deferral and forbearance? Is one better than the other?

    Typically, an account in forbearance won’t accrue interest. A deferred account will accrue interest. You can talk to your lender to see if they offer these options.

  9. Can I open a dispute/add a consumer statement to my file?

    Yes, you can open a dispute or add a consumer statement to your file when you are going through a hardship. If you choose to add a consumer statement (100 words or less), you can add an explanation on why your bills are late. Visit to begin this process.

  10. How will late or missed payments affect my credit score?

    Late or missed payments may impact your credit score, as scores are based on data provided by credit lenders. If a lender reports late payments, this will most likely cause your credit score to drop. We recommend you contact your lenders to ask whether they might have a hardship or forbearance plan if you have concerns about being able to pay your bills.

    When a lender reports an account as in forbearance to TransUnion, it can help minimize the impact to your credit score and keep your accounts in good standing during the forbearance period, as long as you didn’t have late or missed payments already.

  11. If I have agreed with my lender that I can have a delayed or deferred payment, how does that show up on my credit report?

    Typically, there will be a comment that says “Payment Deferred” under the Remarks field on your credit report.

  12. What will the impact be of a deferred payment being reported on my credit report?

    Having an account marked as “Payment Deferred” will not affect your Vantage Score 3.0 in and of itself. It may affect your other credit scores, and other factors could still affect your credit score while an account is in forbearance.

  13. Do different loans affect my credit score or credit report differently?

    They might. We recommend contacting your lenders to ask about your specific loan/account.

  14. Can my credit score still go down if my account(s) is reported by the lender as in forbearance?

    It could – if you made a late payment(s) or missed a payment(s) before your account(s) were in forbearance, that would still be reported and potentially have a negative impact on your credit score. Your score could also be impacted by increasing your balance on credit cards or other loan accounts, or by opening new credit accounts.

  15. When will a late or missed payment be reported on my credit report?

    Late or missed payments are reported by your lenders to the credit reporting agencies, and the timing of reporting varies by lender: some may report late payments immediately, and others may wait up to 30 days. We recommend contacting your lender directly to ask about when late or missed payments are reported to credit reporting agencies.

  16. Are there certain accounts I should prioritize paying over others?

    As each person has a unique situation, we can’t provide specific recommendations on payment prioritization or how this might affect your credit score. We recommend you contact your lenders to ask whether they might have a hardship or forbearance plan if you have concerns about being able to pay your bills.

  17. Where can I obtain my credit report to see what’s been reported by my lenders?

    You can view your credit report by signing up for our free product, TrueIdentity. You can also get your free yearly report at

Disclaimer: The information posted to this blog was accurate at the time it was initially published. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. The information contained in the TransUnion blog is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. You should consult your own attorney or financial adviser regarding your particular situation. For complete details of any product mentioned, visit This site is governed by the TransUnion Interactive privacy policy located here.