When you're away defending our country, there's no doubt that there's more on your mind than your credit and your finances. With your main mission to focus on, it can be easy for otherwise small distractions to chip away at your peace of mind while you're serving overseas. So how can you help keep your credit from being one of those open items? Listen in to hear ideas that can help you button up your credit picture before you depart: like the active duty alert, which was developed especially for servicemembers on deployment overseas. Hear why it should be a part of your complete pre-deployment checklist to keep your credit - and your finances - on an even keel while you're away on tour.
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Welcome to Credit 101. Simple answers to the most common credit questions like, "If I'm on active duty and preparing to deploy, how can I prepare my finances?"
Serving your country overseas is one of the most honorable things a person can do. But it can also be stressful for both you and your loved ones. To help alleviate that stress, there are a few steps you can take where your finances are concerned — so that you can deploy with peace-of-mind.
First, get your affairs in order. Try to pay down credit card balances if you can. And request "drop-in" coverage from your car insurance to eliminate collision and liability coverage while you're away. This can save you quite a bit of money. So can suspending your cell phone service — an option carriers are required to provide for those being deployed. If there are financial matters you can't take care of from where you'll be, consider giving a trusted family member power of attorney, with a specific list of the things you would want that person to do on your behalf.
Next, take a look at your credit situation. Know where you stand by getting a copy of your credit report from FreeCreditReport.com. Then, when you get back, use it to compare against your current report to make sure there are no discrepancies between the two. You should also put an active duty alert on your credit so that new accounts can't be opened in your name. And remember to let your creditors and banks know that you're being deployed. That way, they can keep an eye on your accounts while you're away.
Finally, look into the Soldier's and Sailor's Civil Relief Act. It caps interest rates at six percent on loans or debt you accumulated before entering the service — including mortgages and credit cards. If you're dealing with student loan debt, you might also be eligible for military deferment or loan forgiveness depending on your personal situation.
On behalf of everyone at Experian, we thank you for your service. And we hope your deployment is a safe one — for you, your family and even your finances!
Have more credit questions? Post them on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/ExperianUS and we'll answer them. Maybe even right here on our next episode of Credit 101, brought to you by Experian. Thanks for listening and we'll catch you next time.