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Overview of Coronavirus Financial Relief Programs

FICO | April 6, 2020

April 06, 2020, by Elizabeth Warren

 

As the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are being felt by more Americans, many people are starting to focus on how they'll pay their bills on time.

 

If you are facing this situation, the first step is to be proactive about seeking assistance. There are resources and programs that may help manage financial health during this difficult time. In this article, we will provide an overview of some of the financial relief programs related to the coronavirus:

 

Mortgage relief

 

What's being offered: If your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or FHA, you may be able to delay mortgage payments for 12 months without incurring late fees, having delinquencies reported to the credit bureaus, or risk having your house foreclosed on.  Even if your mortgage is not backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or FHA, your lender may be offering similar relief. 

 

Next steps: Reach out to your lender to discuss your options. The telephone number and mailing address of your mortgage servicer should be listed on your monthly mortgage statement.

 

Relief for renters

 

What's being offered: Many cities and states are mandating that renters be protected from eviction, most commonly for the next 30, 60, or 90 days. These protections vary based on where you live and what kind of mortgage your landlord has. Even if there isn't a specific order from your local government protecting you from eviction, many landlords are flexible right now with rent payments, so call the landlord and ask about a rent deferment plan or payment options.

 

Next steps: Use Google to search for the eviction protection offered in your area. For instance, if you live in Sacramento, California, search for "eviction moratorium Sacramento California." You should also reach out to your landlord to see if they would be open to a rent deferment plan.

 

Auto loan relief

 

What's being offered: Many auto loan lenders are offering to waive late fees as well as offering payment deferrals, some for as long as 120 days, to those affected by the coronavirus. 

 

Next steps: Reach out to your auto loan lender to talk to them about what kind of relief they are offering to customers affected by the coronavirus.

 

Credit card payment relief

 

What's being offered: Many banks and credit unions are offering to waive late fees as well as offering payment deferrals. 

 

Next steps: Reach out to your credit card lender to talk to them about what kind of relief they are offering to customers affected by the coronavirus.

 

Student loan relief

 

What's being offered: Federally backed loans are offering interest reduction to 0% for at least 60 days; however, monthly payments remain the same with the full amount of the payment applied to already accrued interest or outstanding principal.  Federally backed loans are also offering emergency forbearance and the ability to postpone payments for at least 60 days.

 

Next steps: Reach out to your student loan servicer and talk to them about your options.  To contact your servicer, you can consult this list of loan servicers and phone numbers.  If you don't know who your servicer is, you can contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC).

 

Loans for small businesses and the self-employed

 

What's being offered: There are several types of low-interest loans available to keep your business going, including loans to continue issuing paychecks and loans to cover working capital.  You can also apply for debt relief for your existing loans. 

 

Next steps: Visit the Small Business Administration website to learn more about each program.

 

Personal loan relief

 

What's being offered: Many personal loan lenders are offering deferment options for borrowers.

 

Next steps: Reach out to your loan lender to talk to them about what kind of relief they are offering to customers affected by the coronavirus.

 

Utility shut-off protection

 

What's being offered: Many utility companies are committing to preventing water, electricity, or gas shut off during this health crisis by suspending service disconnections, implementing flexible payment plan options, and providing additional support for low-income customers. 

 

Next steps: Go to your utility company's website to research what they are offering their customers during this time.

 

Mobile phone and internet protection

 

What's being offered: Many mobile phone and internet providers have signed the "Keep Americans Connected" pledge in which they promise not to terminate service over the next 60 days due to customer's inability to pay their bill due to the coronavirus.  They have also agreed to waive any late fees that are incurred due to economic circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic.   

 

Next steps: To date, over 650 providers have signed the Keep Americans Connected pledge, so there is a good chance that your provider is on that list.  Check to see if your provider is on the list and reach out to them to see what sort of relief you may be eligible for. 

 

Unemployment benefits

 

What's being offered: In addition to regular unemployment benefits, states are extending unemployment benefits to employees whose work is closed due to the coronavirus, to employees who are quarantined, and to employees who leave their employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.  Benefits are also extended to self-employed and gig workers.

 

Next steps: Your state manages unemployment benefits. Find information about your state's programs here.

 

Federal tax deadline extension

 

What's being offered: If you owe money on your taxes this year, you can postpone filing- the deadline to file has been extended to July 15th.  However, if you are due to receive a tax refund this year, it may benefit you to file earlier rather than later. 

 

Next steps: Visit treasury.gov to learn more.

 

Don't see what you're looking for on the list? Pick up the phone and ask if there is any assistance for someone in your circumstances. Many businesses and organizations across the country are pitching in to help out during the pandemic and may be able to offer insights. Also, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a great resource for further research, and this article from Consumer Reports can give you tips on how to apply for certain types of relief.

 

Elizabeth is a product manager at myFICO in San Jose, CA.

 

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