We are living in unprecedented times. And, if you were already struggling with debt before this outbreak, then you’re likely even more worried now, as you try to figure out if Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is an option – or if you have any means to resolve your debt. Worse, with lay-offs and furloughs, if you’ll lose your home and all your belongings while trying to stay healthy in a global pandemic.
Fortunately, you have some options that you may not know about. In response to lay-offs and temporary business closures, many financial institutions and lenders are implementing special programs to help people in need. Whether you already have a lot of bad debt or you’re looking at a period of financial insecurity, these resources may help you keep your head above water, even in quarantine.
Beware of Scams
Before we get to those resources, as much as we hate it, we have to talk about the threat of scams that could leave you in worse financial shape than you’re already in. Scammers are still out there – even in this terrible time. Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who calls you claiming to have a solution for your debts. And, if you receive an email from a suspicious account, don’t click on any links and do not give them any requested information. If you aren’t sure if a communication is from your bank or another credible institution, call or email them directly and ask about the message you received.
In all likelihood, though, you probably won’t have creditors or anyone else reaching out to help you in advance. But you do have some means to protect yourself, even if you have no income at this time.
Expanded Unemployment Benefits
If you’ve been laid off, and you are not collecting income right now, you can go ahead and file for unemployment with the Georgia Department of Labor. The federal government’s recent economic stimulus package includes provisions for expanded unemployment benefits to help people in need right now. So, even if you were not working for a business that paid unemployment insurance before you were impacted by the pandemic, you may still qualify for benefits.
Find Out if Your Student Loans are on Hold
According to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, federal student loans are now on hold, as of March 27. If your student loans are federally held, you do not need to apply to have them suspended, and interest will not accrue on your loans while suspended. You can learn more here.
Creditors, Utility Companies, and Any Other Lenders
Of course, not all of your debts are associated with or held by the federal government. What can you do about credit cards, your mortgage, and other private loans? Debt resolution is a great way to simplify life and consolidate your debts into a single monthly payment, but you may not be there yet.
And, if you talk to your creditors now, you may not need to take that route in the future. A lot of mortgage lenders, landlords, credit card companies, and utilities companies are anticipating that people like you may have issues paying their bills in the coming months. As a result, many have already set up programs to assist you. Contact them now and you may be able to take a load off until you get back to work.
These organizations and companies are helping people in financial distress right now, and one or more of them may be able to help you:
- The Giving Kitchen is a nonprofit organization, established to help food service and hospitality workers in need.
- Walmart, Starbucks, Target, and other corporations are offering assistance for their employees who’ve been laid off during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The United States Small Business Association (SBA) offers disaster assistance for small business owners. According to Gov. Kemp in a press conference on April 1, Georgia is one of the first states to have been approved for expanded small business loans, which could help if your business is temporarily shut down due to the pandemic.
And, if you need help with debt resolution or filing for bankruptcy, Holston & Huntley is now offering special pricing to make it easier to get out of debt – even as we face this pandemic. We are all in this together, and we are here for you, now more than ever. If you have questions about getting out of debt, please don’t hesitate to call us at Holston & Huntley today at (404) 620-3337.