If you are unable to pay your bills on time, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends contacting your lenders and servicers to let them know about your situation. Many banks and credit card companies have offered several options to help their customers. This may include waiving certain fees like ATM, overpayments, and late fees as well as allowing you to delay, adjust, or skip some payments. The options provided by banks and credit card companies may help you remain in good standing and protect your credit score.
If you are unable to pay your car payments on time, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends contacting your lenders and servicers to let them know about your situation. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lists several options and the pros and cons of each. Those options include asking to change the date your payment is due, requesting a payment plan, asking for a payment extension/deferral, and refinancing your auto loan.
Arizona utility service providers APS (Arizona Public Service), SRP (Salt River Project), TEP (Tucson Electric Power), and SWG (Southwest Gas) have all committed to not discontinue service due to non-payment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For other utilities including internet and wireless service, visit: https://arizonatogether.org/ for links to providers.
Arizona’s Community Action Programs offer several programs to help with utilities. Eligible energy customers may benefit with help to pay current and past due energy bills, help with utility deposits, and help with energy efficiency measures to reduce future energy costs. Programs may have changed their operations for the safety of the public and their employees. It is important to visit the website or call programs directly for information.
It depends. Under the federal CARES Act, if a student loan is backed by the federal government, then all principal and interest payments are suspended through September 30, 2020. The suspension is automatic, so the borrower isn’t required to ask for one.
The temporary suspension of payments doesn’t mean that the borrower’s payments are forgiven. At the end of the suspension period, the borrower will be required to begin catching up on the payments they missed. This is why the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau strongly recommends that borrowers continue to make their student loan payments on time and in full if they can.
The temporary suspension of payments only applies to what are called “federally backed” student loans. The suspension does not apply to student loans owned by banks, credit unions, schools, or other private entities. It also doesn’t apply to certain loans under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and the Federal Perkins Loan Program.
If a borrower doesn’t know whether their student loan is “federally backed,” they should ask their student loan servicer. The U.S. Department of Education provides student loan servicers’ contact information here: https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/repayment/servicers#your-servicer
If a borrower’s student loan is not backed by the federal government, the borrower still may be able to ask for and get a suspension of payments, but it will be up to their student loan servicer. Any suspension agreement between a borrower and their student loan servicer should be in writing, and the borrower should carefully review all the terms and conditions of the agreement before the borrower signs it.
More information is available here: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-student-loans-and-coronavirus-pandemic.
Scammers have been quick to create fraudulent schemes related to the coronavirus. Many of these scams take advantage of people who are ill, are worried about getting sick, have fallen on hard financial times, and are isolated from friends and family who might ordinarily recognize the scam. Scammers are usually very good at what they do and often use official looking business names or documents or convincing stories to reel people in.
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is telling consumers to beware of coronavirus related scams and offering this suggestion for avoiding scammers:
“The best defense is to say NO if anyone contacts you and asks for your Social Security number, bank account number, credit card information, Medicare ID numbers, drivers license number or any other personally identifiable information by phone, in person, by text message, or email.”
Arizona’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich recently warned Arizonans, especially seniors, about a number of scams his office is investigating. Some of these include: thieves offering to go shopping for seniors only to take their money and never return with goods; individuals going door to door claiming they can sanitize homes; miracle cures and vaccines for COVID-19; government imposters offering to help people receive recovery funds for a fee; and, phone calls, emails, and text messages offering to sell COVID-19 treatments and tests.
Others to watch out for:
If you have experienced a COVID-19 related scam in Arizona, report it to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
The deadline for filing and paying taxes in Arizona and for the IRS has been extended from April 15th, 2020 to July 15, 2020. The new deadline applies to individual, corporate, and fiduciary tax returns and means that taxpayers filing after the previous April 15 deadline will not be assessed late filing or late payment penalties. Arizona’s deadline for contributions to schools and qualifying charitable organizations remains April 15, 2020.
$75,000 for individuals
$112,500 for head of household filers and
$150,000 for married couples filing joint returns
Taxpayers will receive a reduced payment if their adjusted gross income is between:
$75,000 and $99,000 if their filing status was single or married filing separately
112,500 and $136,500 for head of household
$150,000 and $198,000 if their filing status was married filing jointly
You are not eligible if you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return, you do not have a valid Social Security number, you are a nonresident alien, or you filed Form 1040-NR or Form 1040NR-EZ, Form 1040-PR or Form 1040-SS for 2019.
Federal offsets: The CARES Act protects stimulus checks from being reduced to pay certain debts owed to the federal government or to repay certain state government debt -- back state taxes or excess unemployment compensation -- that the federal government normally helps states collect. See § 2201(d). For example, your payment will not be reduced to pay back taxes or federal student loans owed to the federal government. But the payment may be reduced to pay a state child support enforcement order.
Bank account garnishments: The CARES Act does not prohibit creditors from garnishing bank accounts. The National Consumer Law Center has recommended steps that consumers and their attorneys can take to prevent garnishment is here: Coronavirus Emergency: Preventing Garnishment of Stimulus Checks. More detailed information can also be found: Protecting Against Creditor Seizure of Stimulus Checks
Offsets by the bank that holds the deposit account: The CARES Act does not prohibit banks from taking part of the stimulus payment to cover a negative balance, a defaulted loan other than a credit card, or overdraft fees. But many banks have pledged not to do so. If your payment is taken, contact your bank. Under federal law, if you have a credit card from the same bank that holds your bank account, the bank cannot take money from your bank account unless you authorize repayment that way.
On that same page, you can also provide the IRS with your direct deposit information, which may help you receive your stimulus payment more quickly.
If you are someone who doesn’t have to file a tax return (what the IRS calls a “non-filer”), you can enter your payment information here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here
IMPORTANT: If you’re not sure whether you are required to file a tax return, the IRS will help you find out here: https://www.irs.gov/help/ita/do-i-need-to-file-a-tax-return
More information about stimulus payments is available here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center
It may also be possible to use other virtual reloadable prepaid accounts such as digital wallets that store funds if the company can provide a routing and account number.
Be wary of prepaid or debit cards sold by payday lenders and cash checkers. They may have overdraft fees.