By Desmond Brown | Care of CFPB Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
April is National Financial Capability Month, a time when we typically encourage people to take action to improve their financial futures. It might be difficult, however, to think about improving your financial future during the current COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to bring heavy financial stress to many families across our country.
CFPB’s theme for National Financial Capability Month this year is resilience and recovery. We’re working with other federal agencies that serve on the Financial Literacy and Education Commission to share resources to help you manage your finances this month, and beyond.
Help is available
We are here to help protect your finances during the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are actions you can take today to safeguard your financial wellbeing.
Ask for help
If you’re struggling financially, reach out to your bank or credit union, mortgage company, landlord, utility providers, or credit card company immediately. They may be able to help, but first you need to ask. While it’s often hard to ask for help, it’s better for your long-term finances to work out a payment arrangement with your lenders or providers. Get more coronavirus resources and tips, including how to talk to your lenders.
Check your credit reports oftenIt’s always a good practice to regularly monitor your credit reports. However, if you have an alternate payment arrangement with lenders or creditors, it’s important to monitor your credit report closely to make sure this information is accurately reflected. Right now, it’s easier than ever to do. Through April 2022, everyone is eligible for free, weekly online credit reports through the three nationwide credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. To get your free reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
Learn more about mortgage and rent relief optionsIf you're concerned about how to pay your mortgage or rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardships, we have information on your relief options. If you’re a homeowner, consider contacting your mortgage servicer first to ask about forbearance or relief programs you may be eligible for, or work with a local a HUD-certified housing counselor, which is a free resource to help you identify your options.
Beware of scamsYou should also be aware that scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to target many vulnerable consumers. During this time of uncertainty, knowing about possible scams is a good first step to preventing them. Learn more about COVID-19 scams and the steps you can take to protect yourself.
The pandemic has affected everyone, but not in the same way
We couldn’t have predicted the economic fallout from the pandemic when we opened our doors in 2011, but we are here to help consumers meet this moment. We know that neither COVID-19 crisis nor the resulting economic crisis has impacted all communities equally. Black, Hispanic, and Native American communities have experienced more severe impacts of COVID-19 on both their physical health, as well as their financial well-being.
Share your story with us so that we can better understand what financial issues you’re dealing with during this difficult time. Knowing what everyday issues consumers are facing helps us create educational resources that can help you and your family. Also, if you’re having a problem with your mortgage, debt collection, credit reporting, or another financial product or service, you can submit a complaint.
Marc has 36 years in financial services and 6 years in teaching.
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