COVID-19 Consumer Protection

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Guidance for our Housing Counseling and Down Payment Assistance Partners

 

We are sharing this information with you compiled from federal, state, and local sources about working with financial and service providers in response to the changing conditions of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.  Don’t hesitate to call us if you have further questions or if we can assist.

 

Be proactive!  

  • Don’t expect your lender or service provider to contact you directly in response to the economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

  • It is your responsibility to contact your lender and/or service provider if you have trouble paying your bill(s), or making payment(s) on time.

  • Start the conversation as early as possible if you are experiencing a reduction of or loss of income. Don’t wait until you are behind in your payments to contact them.

  • Respond promptly to all correspondence from your lender.

  • If you have lost your job / income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, ask your employer for a letter or email with the details (including date the layoff started and possible duration of your unemployment).

  • DO NOT fall victim to scam companies who charge you a fee and/or promise to resolve your mortgage delinquency with your lender.Deal with your mortgage company directly!

  • See our information sheet on our website about protecting yourself from scammers.

 

What to prepare before calling your lender/service provider.

  • Lenders (banks and credit unions) are working to support individuals and businesses struggling to make their monthly payments as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Also there have been recent federal guidelines offered that allow financial institutions more tools/policies to deal with this crisis.See the websites below to look for information from specific lenders:

                    https://www.ohiobankersleague.com/customers

                    https://www.ohiocreditunions.org/

  • Most lenders offer forbearance, loan modifications, or principal reduction.Your lender may ask that you apply for ‘hardship assistance’ by completing an online application and/or supplying a “hardship packet.” Speak directly with your lender to learn their recommended procedure. If you need assistance putting together a complete packet or would like our office to review your packet, contact us at 330.458.0962.

  • Many lenders recommend you DO NOT send in partial mortgage payments and instead send in a full mortgage payment.Partial mortgage payments may still mean you are behind and at risk of default.(For example, if your monthly mortgage payment is $1,000 and you only have $800, you may be directed to wait until you have the additional $200 so you can make a full payment.)Speak with your lender so you have full knowledge of how to proceed with making your payments.

 

Keep your records organized.

  • Find an empty folder and use it as the central location where you keep of your lender/mortgage correspondence.

  • Use a notebook to create a “call log” where you document call made to your lender and notes taken during the call.Be sure this includes date, time, telephone number called and person you spoke with (some lenders also provide reference #’s per call). Before ending each call, review your notes with your lender to make sure you understand their directions.

  • Be sure you have printouts of frequently requested documents including pay stubs and bank account statements.(If you only access these through websites, be sure you have the website address/URL, and your username and password so that you can easily retrieve needed documents.)

 

Tips for getting through the financial crisis.

  • If you haven’t already done so, create a budget, or update your current household budget.Reduce expenses wherever possible.

  • File for unemployment benefits if this is an option.Apply for other local assistance programs (including SNAP food benefits) that you may now be eligible for.

  • Check out the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website (https://www.consumerfinance.gov) for additional resources and information.

 

 

Be proactive!  Take the necessary steps today.

Stay in touch, let us know how you are doing and if you need assistance.