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How to protect your finances from the effects of COVID-19

Tips from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

Gregory Andersen

Managing Editor at Tally

March 17, 2020

As the U.S. government responds to the coronavirus, many communities are feeling the financial effects, which include the temporary closure of businesses and schools, cancelation of public events and even quarantines. 

Every day brings new measures and updates on how to stay safe and healthy as the coronavirus continues to spread. Many Americans are feeling especially anxious about money. According to a recent Tally survey, 76% of U.S. adults are worried the coronavirus will trigger an economic recession. 

If you’re feeling this way, there are a few steps you can follow to shield yourself from the immediate and lasting financial impacts of the coronavirus. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) has released helpful suggestions for people in specific situations, including those who are having trouble paying bills or are experiencing a loss of income.

If you have trouble paying bills or meeting financial obligations

If you’re unable to pay your bills on time, contact your lenders or loan services and tell them about your current situation. The CFPB has encouraged these financial institutions to help lessen the financial burdens of the coronavirus.

There’s no guarantee that a lender or loan servicer will be able to help, but possible options include:

  • Waiving certain fees (e.g., ATM fees, late fees, etc.)

  • Delaying, skipping or adjusting payments

If you’re unable to make an auto loan payment or student loan payment, you may also qualify for a payment plan, a payment extension or delayed payments — all depending on your loan servicer.

Make sure to also check your credit reports regularly during this time. It’s important that any changes to your financial obligations are accurately reflected on your credit report, because your credit report and credit score are crucial to your financial future.

If you experience a loss of income

Start by checking the unemployment benefit options in your state. You may also be able to find additional help related to the coronavirus through your state’s public health office.

The CFPB also notes that older adults may be affected by the coronavirus differently than the general public; this includes different quarantine procedures. Older adults who need financial assistance may be eligible for government benefits, so check to see if you qualify.

Other protections and help

Beyond trouble paying bills and income loss, the CFPB has resources and recommendations for people who are facing housing- and credit-related hardship.

The bureau also warns against potential scam attempts, especially during times of emergencies. Be vigilant about emails, texts and social media posts that could be circulating false information or selling fake products related to the coronavirus.

For more details and additional information, check out the CFPB’s coronavirus resources.