Coronavirus has changed many people’s financial circumstances quickly. A loss of income can put your services, or even your home in jeopardy, but companies are working with customers right now to help ensure their well-being.
Here are a few steps you can take if your income has decreased suddenly.
Contact your lenders, loan servicers, and other creditors
If you are not able to pay your bills on time, check their websites to see if they have information that can help you. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other financial regulators have encouraged financial institutions to work with their customers to meet their community needs. If you can’t make a payment now, need more time, or want to discuss payment options, contact your lenders and servicers to let them know about your situation. Being behind on your payments can have a lasting impact on your credit. Credit card companies, banks, and lenders may be able to offer you a number of options to help you. This could include waiving certain fees like ATM, overdrafts, and late fees, as well as allowing you to delay, adjust, or skip some payments.
Work with housing and credit counselors to understand your options
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has approved housing counselors who can discuss options with you if you’re having trouble paying your mortgage loan or reverse mortgage loan.
Contact your mortgage servicer if you are having trouble paying your mortgage
Reputable credit counseling organizations are generally nonprofit organizations that can advise you on your money and debts, and help you with a budget. Some of the counselors are also able to negotiate with creditors.
Trouble paying your student loans?
If your loan is held by the federal government, your loan payments are postponed with no interest until September 30, 2020. For other kinds of student loans (such as a federal student loan held by a commercial lender or the institution you attend, or a private student loan held by a bank, credit union, school, or other private entity) contact your student loan servicer to find out more about your options.
Trouble paying your credit cards?
Contact all credit card companies that you owe and let them know of your financial hardship and that you are unable to make a payment. Additionally, work with a reputable nonprofit credit counseling organization that can advise you on your money and debts, and help you with a budget. Some may also help you negotiate with creditors.
Stay on top of your credit reports
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the three national credit reporting companies are offering free weekly online credit reports through April 2021. Use the link https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action to request your copies.
Equally important, through December 31, 2026, all U.S. consumers can also get six free credit reports every 12 months from Equifax by establishing a “myEquifax” account online or by calling 866-349-5191. That is in addition to the one free Equifax report (plus your Experian and TransUnion reports) you can get from AnnualCreditReport.com.