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What can I do if I can’t pay my mortgage?

If you think you’re going to be late on a payment or miss one due to the coronavirus, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests you contact your mortgage servicer as quickly as possible. Your mortgage servicer is the company where you send your monthly payments and may be different from the place where you got your original mortgage.

You may be eligible for mortgage and credit relief through the federal CARES Act, which stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security. The act became law on March 27.

The CARES Act gives homeowners a right to forbearance — the ability to suspend or reduce mortgage payments — for up to a year if they have a federally backed mortgage and have experienced a financial hardship related to the coronavirus.

Your mortgage servicer will be able to tell you if your loan is federally backed and what options you may be eligible for. To request forbearance, contact your mortgage servicer and affirm that you are experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 emergency. You must contact your loan servicer to request forbearance.

The CARES Act also prohibits lenders and loan servicers from beginning or finalizing a foreclosure on your property through May 17, 2020, if your property is secured by a mortgage which is federally backed.

While you are receiving forbearance or other modified payment agreement agreed upon by your loan servicer, your credit also may be protected. The law says lenders who provide forbearance can’t report you to credit bureaus for late or missed payments through July 25, 2020, or 120 days after the president declares the national emergency period concerning COVID-10 is over, whichever is later. The laws states that this credit reporting protection is only available to consumers who have an agreed upon forbearance or modified payment agreement in place with their loan servicer, so it is important you contact them as quickly as possible.

Even if you do not have a federally backed mortgage, you may still be eligible for a forbearance or other payment arrangement. Contact your loan servicer to inquire about any options that may be available to you.

For more information, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.