Information regarding COVID-19 is rapidly changing, as is the information regarding programs offering financial assistance and relief to individuals. This section provides answer to commonly asked questions.
The economic consequences of this pandemic have rippled across the globe, as countries attempt to contain and mitigate the outbreak through shuttering businesses and social distancing. As a result, financial institutions are well aware of the personal financial struggles facing those of us with little (or no) savings and monthly bills to pay. To help, various programs and protections have been—and continue to be—rolled-out by federal and local governments. Private businesses, including banks, lenders, and creditors, also have been notifying the public that help may be available, often on a case-by-case basis, and are encouraging customers to call if they are unable to pay.
Organizations and businesses may offer payment or loan forbearance, allowing a person to stop payments for a set period of time. While such a payment option may be one’s best option, it is essential to understand the terms of such an agreement before agreeing to it. Questions to be answered include, What is the forbearance period (e.g., when are payments to resume)? How will missed payments be repaid? Will interest continue to accrue on the loan? What happens if I’m unable to repay the full amount?
As a best practice, when speaking with entities to whom money is owed, such as landlords, banks, credit unions, student loan servicers, and other creditors or lenders, take notes on the conversation. Record the date(s) of conversation, name, contact information and title of the organization representative, and information discussed, etc. It is also highly recommended that a follow-up e-mail, restating and confirming the main points of the conversation, including any agreed to repayment plan(s), be sent shortly after the conversation. And, remember, it’s always better to call before—rather than after—a missed payment.
Lastly, some relief programs have yet to provide specific details as to how they will work. Continue checking the appropriate website for new information.