Written by Jasmine Walia
If you find yourself unable to make payments on bills, loans, or debts, you are not alone. Many of us are experiencing financial uncertainty due to coronavirus. Feeling anxious or overwhelmed is normal, as does not knowing what steps to take to keep yourself and your family financially protected. However, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself and those around you, not just from coronavirus, but also from financial instability.
When you are ready to take action, where should you start? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) is a U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat consumers fairly. The CFBP provides information you can use to financially protect yourself from coronavirus.
Contact financial institutions and discuss payment options, even if you cannot pay right away. Notifying lenders, creditors, or other loan servicers (this includes credit card companies, auto loan lenders, mortgage servicers, and debt collectors) that you are unable to pay or need a payment arrangement may allow for flexible options. Check a company’s website first to see if they have information about working with customer needs and then reach out to them, being prepared to explain your current financial situation, what you can afford to pay, when you can restart regular payments.
Regularly check your credit report to make sure there are no errors or delinquencies. This is especially important if you are working with lenders or other servicers on payment arrangements or forgiveness. Your credit has a lasting impact on your financial stability, so it is very important to make sure everything listed on your credit report is correct. You can request and view your free credit report by visiting annualcreditreport.com.
Be aware of financial scam attempts or fraudulent activities, as scammers often take advantage of people in a crisis. If you receive any suspicious information via email, text, or social media, do not provide any personal or sensitive information. To report a scam, you can provide a complain to the Federal Trade Commission, or contact your local police or sheriff office.
Though these steps may seem daunting, you are not alone in taking action. Foundation Communities has virtual financial coaching available to provide you with assistance as you go through the process of financially protecting yourself. They can also share resources around budgeting, saving, and planning for future emergencies. Foundation Communities is here to support you, as we all attempt to get through this pandemic, both physically and financially protected. Visit https://foundcom.org/financial-wellness/ to get started.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 2020. Protect yourself financially from the impact of the coronavirus. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/protect-yourself-financially-from-impact-of-coronavirus/