The light is at the end of the tunnel, and the vaccines are eventually going to kick in enough to make a real difference and get us back to a ‘normal’ life, whatever that means.
What I am reading from the science and medical journals is that we really cannot expect this pandemic to wind down, even with clean distribution of vaccines, until the end of 2021.
So we have a ways to go here, and we need to get there all together. To help you out, here’s some end of 2020 financial advice to help people wrap up this horrible year and start 2021 on the best foot possible.
The CARES Act Forbearance
If you are a homeowner, then you MUST consider the Forbearance available under The CARES Act. The CARES Act Forbearance gives you 12 months forbearance on your mortgage payments. The whole shebang: Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance.
- No hidden fees.
- No late fees.
- No damage to the credit.
And at the end of it, the lender has to work to get you into a proper loan modification program. In these uncertain times I have a difficult time seeing why anyone would ever NOT take the CARES Act forbearance.
There is no application process; you just need to properly put the servicer on notice that you have been affected by Covid-19 (I mean, come on. Who hasn’t?) and that you want the forbearance to which you are entitled under The CARES Act.
Now, not every loan is eligible for The CARES Act forbearance, but I have written about that before. You can read the older post, and you should, for more information.
But PLEASE, if there is even the hint of a financial issue for you on the horizon and you have not already requested The CARES Act forbearance, you really should. We can help you do it, and I can answer all of your questions face to face (Covid-style) via Zoom. Or even just good old telephone time.
Just get on top of this. So many people are eligible and so few of us have taken the CARES Act forbearance.
For sake of disclosure, I did. I have been on forbearance since April. This is my number one 2020 financial advice, it is a great opportunity for those of us who can take it.
Debt Collection Ugly Games – Debt Parking
It’s a good time, too, to check your credit report to see if there any judgments that have been ‘parked’ on your credit.
‘Debt Parking’ is the multi-million dollar ‘business’ of certain debt buyers of tagging your credit report with judgments, liens and negative marks. The idea is to throw as much dubious value debts as possible onto credit reports … and just wait.
Wait until you need to buy a car, or rent an apartment, or are trying to buy a house. The negative mark shows up on your credit report at a moment when you NEED it gone. Most people just find a way to pay it, even if it is a debt collection claim that might not be yours.
Several debt collection buyers just got hit with a multi-million dollar penalty for doing this, but since they do it at a rate of several hundred million dollars each year, that slap on the wrist is really not going to stop their behavior, is it?
The best way to check your credit is to go to www.annualcreditreport.com.
Do NOT google that, go straight to that website because that is the official website for the Credit Reporting Industry as required by the federal government through the Fair Credit Reporting Act to maintain and provide credit information to consumers for free.
The CARES Act changed things. You used to be able to check that once per year, and now it is once per week so that people can stay on top of their credit during this time of crisis.
Don’t ignore this 2020 financial advice. If you see something concerning or strange on your credit, give me a call. We can talk about it and maybe head off a major problem down the road.
Debt Collectors and Old Judgments
When the pandemic hit, the debt collection industry was temporarily halted because they could not get their employees into the same room to hassle people.
This 2020 financial advice isn’t for everyone. But what I am seeing now is many MANY people calling me about judgments showing up that they either forgot about, thought were resolved or that they never knew anything about.
What is evident to me now is that the debt collection industry took their enforced downtime to go through their systems, find files that fell through the cracks, fix infrastructure and picked up older files that were left alone for a long time.
I have received dozens of calls from people about judgments showing up, wage garnishment orders being imposed and the like.
I can help. Sometimes these are violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and we can sue the debt collector (and their attorney – WHICH IS FUN!!!). Other times I can help resolve the pain by negotiation.
Obviously, I prefer to sue debt collectors but I have found that the fact that I do sue debt collectors gives me a leg up in negotiating a much better resolution on an actually owed debt that my clients were able to do on their own.
It is my way of helping people clean up finances so we can start the new year as clean and strong as possible.
And a Final Thought for the closing of 2020
This really sucks. This entire year is just trash.
I know that a lot of people are really, really stressing and having a difficult time.
I know, because people in trouble are my clients. That is all that I do is represent people in financial difficulty.
There is one thing that I tell every one of my clients, and it seems to help. That is to remind them that they are not alone. Their suffering and their concerns are shared by almost everyone, to one degree or another.
We are all in this together, and I am doing my part to help, one household at a time. I hope you found this 2020 financial advice helpful.
Don’t be afraid to reach out, and I don’t mean me although I am absolutely a resource. I mean to your friends and loved ones, to people who you are fond of but maybe have lost track a bit. Reach out. Check in.
Be there to lend a hand as necessary but, also, be prepared to give the gift of allowing a friend to help you. The gift of giving is a powerful thing and it can bring people close. Be honest, reach out to friends and ask for help.
You will be doing you and them a favor, and that gift of trust you share by opening up is going to be repaid a thousandfold.