April 26, 2021
For many, receiving the vaccination is the first step toward a full recovery from COVID-19. For others, recovery depends on finding employment, fully recovering from the illness or paying all overdue bills.
This year the CFPB’s (Bureau) theme for National Financial Capability Month is resilience and recovery. The Bureau is working with other federal agencies to create resources that help you manage your finances this month, and beyond. Please visit CFPB.gov to find excellent resources addressing everything from knowing your rights to protecting your federally deposited COVID-19 checks.
If you are struggling to pay your bills, receiving late payment notices, or receiving calls from debt collectors, here are some actions you can take today that may help you manage 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, if you 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 coronavirus resources and tips, including how to talk to your lenders.
- Check your credit reports often: Regularly monitor your credit reports, especially if you have an alternate payment arrangement with lenders or creditors, to make sure the 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 com.
- Learn more about mortgage and rent relief options: If you’re concerned about how to pay your mortgage or rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardships, you may want to check out the Bureau’s 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 working with a local a HUD-certified housing counselor, a free resource to help you identify your options.
- Beware of scams: 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.
- Pay Your Bills Early: One of the easiest ways to improve your credit score is to pay your bills in advance. Even paying three days early can make a difference to your score.
- Respond to Debt Collection Calls: Debt collectors are trained to listen. They understand how consumers have been impacted by COVID-19 and, except in unusual circumstances, are more than happy to set up a payment plan that works for you. Depending upon the age of the debt a settlement arrangement may also be available to you.
- Ask for Documentation About Your Debts: Sometimes it is hard to remember to whom a debt is owed or even the amount you owe. After you receive a notice of your rights from a debt collector, you may ask them in writing or an email to send you proof you owe the debt.
These tips are just a few of the steps you can take now or in the future to manage your financial wellbeing and improve your financial health tomorrow.
“As the leading international trade association representing the debt purchasing and debt collection industry, RMAI supports efforts to help consumers understand their rights and improve their financial capability,” said RMAI Executive Director, Jan Stieger.
About Receivables Management Association International:
Receivables Management Association International (RMAI) is a nonprofit trade association representing more than 570 companies that purchase or support the purchase of performing and nonperforming receivables on the secondary market. The RMAI Receivables Management Certification Program and Code of Ethics set the global standard within the receivables industry due to the rigorous uniform standards of best practice which focus on protecting consumers.
More information about RMAI is available at www.rmaintl.org.