CFPB Urges Consumers to Protect Themselves from Coronavirus Financial Impact
As part of its efforts to assist consumers with the rapidly-changing effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the United States, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently issued a blog post providing guidance for steps consumers can take towards economic protection.
The post covers a variety of topics, including what consumers should do if they experience difficulty paying their bills or meeting financial obligations, how they can respond to losses of income, and how to be vigilant about potential scam attempts.
The CFPB has suggested that consumers facing trouble paying their bills ⎯ including credit card payments, auto loans, and student loans ⎯ should contact their loan servicers and lenders to explain their situation and attempt to seek other options. Since late and missed payments can have lasting effects on consumers’ credit, the Bureau has also encouraged lenders to work with consumers to help meet their needs.
According to the CFPB website, credit card companies could help by “waiving certain fees like ATM, overpayments, and late fees, as well as allowing you to delay, adjust, or skip some payments.”
The Bureau has also advised consumers to better understand their options by taking advantage of housing and credit counselors, often at little to no cost. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counselors can discuss alternative mortgage payment options, while credit counselors can help consumers set up a budget and negotiate with creditors.
If consumers have lost their income, the CFPB has suggested they look at their state’s unemployment policies and public health offices. Older adults may be able to access even more resources.
Finally, the Bureau is warning consumers to be aware of potential scam attempts, especially those targeted toward older adults.
“Scammers often target older adults because they may have more assets or regular income in the form of retirement benefits or savings and because they’re often more polite and trusting than other age groups,” the CFPB website reads. “As older adults are at a higher risk for serious illness they may also be isolating themselves.”