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Coronavirus: Financial Considerations Amid a Global Crisis

March 26, 2020
Man worried about paying bills

Managing Finances During the Global Crisis

Money is a concern for most families and that financial worry has only increased as the coronavirus shutdown thrusts people temporarily out of work and families into financial limbo. Keeping up with payments on your home or your car without significant savings is just one of the fears causing many to lose sleep - right up there with keeping your family healthy. With so much to worry about, we’re here to offer answers in the hopes of alleviating some of your fears.  

Frequently Asked Financial Questions Amid Coronavirus Crisis:

  1. LOST INCOME
  2. UNABLE TO MAKE BILL PAYMENTS
  3. GOVERNMENT AID

Lost Income

I’ve lost my job, been furloughed, or lost income for some other reason related to coronavirus and I can’t pay rent. What are my legal rights related to eviction? 

Regardless of circumstances, a landlord shouldn’t change the locks or shut off your utilities due to a failure to pay rent. As part of the eviction process, depending on state law which may vary, a landlord must give you proper notice prior to filing a lawsuit to evict you.  If you are still living in the unit after the period given to vacate in the notice, the landlord can then take the step of filing a lawsuit to evict you.    

Many landlord/tenant issues can be resolved with a face-to-face conversation, particularly in the light of current circumstances. In the midst of the current crisis, some cities have taken the step of suspending evictions during this period. So, there may be a resolution possible without drastic measures. 
 

I’ve lost my job, been furloughed, or lost income for some other reason and I can’t pay my mortgage. What are my legal rights related to foreclosure?

Notification and the foreclosure process vary by state. Not making timely payments can result in foreclosure but there are steps a lender must take. There is both judicial and nonjudicial foreclosure depending on the state, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible in the process. There may be relief available due to COVID-19. Foreclosure of certain loans may be suspended at the federal level, while governors of some states have temporality stopped foreclosures by executive order. As with evictions, certain cities have put measures in place to halt foreclosures during the pandemic. Both these situations can be discussed with a LegalShield Provider Attorney under our personal plans.
 

I’ve lost my job, been furloughed, or lost income for some other reason and I can’t pay my car payment. Can the lender take my car?

If you’ve failed to make required car payments and are in default, your lender is within their rights to repossess the car without any prior notification. Once the car has been repossessed, depending on state law, you may be entitled to notification and have the right to redeem the vehicle by paying the full amount owed in addition to the repossession fees. If the matter is not resolved, the lender will normally seek to sell the vehicle. 

That said, many lenders and automobile manufacturers have created programs to allow borrowers to defer or delay payments for new cars, and financial institutions are working to be similarly flexible in the face of an unprecedented slowdown in our economy. It is important to communicate with your lender and contact an attorney when needed. 
 

Unable to Make Bill Payments

I can’t pay my utility bills and it’s still very cold in my area. Can the gas/electric company disconnect my services? 

Consumers don’t have a legal right to utilities without the ability to pay for those utilities. That said, many states have laws or “bills of right” that allow utility customers to request deferred or installment payments if they’re unable to pay the full balance and protect against shut-offs in the midst of extreme weather or health emergencies. Check your state laws or consult with an attorney to see if your state has any such laws protecting you against the loss of utilities. Currently, more than 90 cities have stopped water shutoffs during the coronavirus outbreak.
 

I can’t make (credit card, car, mortgage, rent, etc.) payments. Is it legal for me to be charged late fees and interest? 

By the letter of the rules, fees for late or missed payments are still applicable, with no relief legislation to date countermanding them. Credit card companies and cell phone service providers have nevertheless taken measures on their own to try and help customers who are unable to make payments due to missed paychecks, and other entities have similarly shown a willingness to work with customers unable to make ends meet through no fault of their own. 
 

Government Aid

Am I getting a check from the government?

While the plan is to send some Americans a  relief check, it can become a target area for scammers which is one of the non-health risks that has emerged during the crisis. 

Bad actors are taking advantage of the fear and confusion to launch schemes aimed at stealing personal information from people looking for tests, cures or simply more information. Protecting your family’s health is paramount, but protecting your private personal and financial information remains crucial even in this health crisis. If you need an affordable option to protect against those threats, IDShield can help.    

Money may be tight, but that doesn’t have to stop you from getting the legal advice you need. You can sign up to become a LegalShield Member starting at only $24.95 a month

LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield Members through member-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract at www.legalshield.com for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts, and conditions. This is not intended to be legal or medical advice. Please contact a medical professional for medical advice or assistance and an attorney for legal advice or assistance.

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