COVID-19 Debt Relief: Quick Guide to Getting Help

The financial implications of the coronavirus global lockdown have rippled across the country, affecting businesses and their employees. About 16.8 million Americans filed for unemployment in the past three weeks as COVID-19 adversely affected every industry nationwide. 

If you’ve felt the economic impact of the pandemic, you are not alone. As more businesses close down, the U.S. is predicted to face an unemployment crisis of staggering proportions as more Americans lose their jobs, accrue debt, and then finally, are simply unable to pay.

There are COVID-19 debt relief resources to help you cope. The team at ClearOne Advantage has compiled this list of coronavirus debt relief options to help you and your family navigate through this financially challenging time in the best way possible. If you have any questions or need help with debt consolidation or debt relief,  please contact us today to begin a conversation about your needs and how we can address them.

COVID-19 Debt Relief Options

Federal Government Assistance

  • CARES Act
    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has been signed into law. Key provisions for COVID-19 debt relief include: 
    • Unemployment increase: Individuals filing for unemployment can receive an additional $600/week beyond traditional benefits. See below for the link to apply in your state.
    • Paycheck protection: Small businesses, including freelance 1099 workers, can receive a loan for payroll, mortgage interest payments, rent, or utilities. These loans may be forgiven if you follow the rules for use. See below for FAQs and a downloadable application.
    • Stimulus recovery check: Individual taxpayers can receive up to $1,200 refundable tax credit ($2,400 for joint filers) and an additional $500 per child. See below for an FAQ on how much your check will be and when will it arrive.

One-click resources:

  • Click here for an article that explains the CARES Act.
  • Click here for an FAQ on your stimulus recovery check.
  • Click here for Paycheck Protection Program FAQs.
  • Click here to download the Paycheck Protection Borrower Form.

State Government Assistance

Click here if you need to file for unemployment. You’ll see a drop-down box to select your state and a link to apply.

If you have a small business, each state has its own set of resources that may help you, your family, your employees, and your company. Click here for a state-by-state guide from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Help with Healthcare

Many Americans are concerned about the loss of their healthcare coverage. If you've lost your job, ask your employer about COBRA Continuation Coverage. You may have options for coverage with Medicare and Medicaid. The government has published a state-by-state and federal guide for healthcare and medical assistance. Click here to explore the programs that may help.

Help with Housing

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program provides financial help to low-income applicants who are pregnant or responsible for a child under age 19.  Each state has different requirements and benefits. Click here and use the dropdown box to find contact information for your local area.

For help with heating and cooling your home, there is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Help with Food

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides food assistance to low-income individuals and families that qualify. Applicants receive an electronic benefits transfer card that they can take to the grocery store to purchase food. Click here and then click on your state map to find the closest SNAP office where you can apply. Another good resource in your region may be a food pantry. Many times these organizations are run by non-profit charities or churches. Click here and go to the middle of the page to find a list of food pantries in your state.

Financial Institutions

If you lost your job and are not an existing ClearOne client, the first thing to do is call any credit card companies and your mortgage lender. Many financial institutions are working to help individuals by lowering monthly payments, waiving late payment fees, lowering your interest rate, or providing other remedies to their customers. Here are some of the companies that have signaled their willingness to work with consumers:

  • American Express offers a live chat feature on its website to discuss alternative payment arrangements with company representatives.
  • Bank of America has an online application to defer a payment on a credit card, or home or auto loan.
  • Citigroup is offering a waiver of the minimum credit card and personal loan payments due and late fees for two statement cycles.  Note that the website specifies that you must contact the company to be eligible.
  • Fifth Third Bank is waiving the monthly payment requirement on consumer credit cards for up to 90 days with no late fees. It's also suspending repossession activity on past-due vehicles for 60 days, and more.
  • PNC is offering loans, lines of credit, and credit card assistance. Customers may also be able to postpone their mortgage, credit card, auto loan, or home equity payment.
  • US Bank offers an online portal where customers can select from a number of options, including suspending mortgage payments for up to 180 days with no late fees or credit reporting, and a simple loan program for up to $1,000 to take care of unexpected expenses.
  • Wells Fargo has suspended residential property foreclosures, evictions, and auto repossessions. On a case-specific basis, the company will also offer fee waivers, payment deferrals, or other assistance for its lines of credit if you contact the company representatives.

Federally held student loans have also been suspended for a short time; however, you need to contact your lender to request a forbearance. Click here to see a list of contact numbers for services of federally held student loans.

Non-Financial Institutions

Companies that provide basic services such as cable, internet, and phone are also making concessions to help consumers improve their economic situation during COVID-19. Here are a few examples, but ClearOne Advantage also recommends that you reach out to your local utilities and telecommunications providers to find out how they can help:

  • AT&T is waiving late fees for postpaid home phones, wireless, or broadband residential U-verse TV or DIRECTTV customers. Overage charges for wireless data, voice, or text (residential) are also waived. 
  • Sprint Wireless is offering unlimited data for 60 days to metered customers. The company is waiving the per-minute toll charges for international long-distance and providing 20 GB of free mobile hotspot to customers that qualify.
  • Verizon is waiving late fees, activation, and upgrade fees, offering free international calling, and more. 

Miscellaneous Resources

If you are an older American, you may be impacted differently by the global pandemic; the National Council on Aging has a zip-code-specific list of resources that may help you. Click here to find out more.

If you are renting from a property owner or a company that has a federally backed mortgage, the CARES Act provides a suspension on evictions. Your landlord cannot evict you for nonpayment of rent under the law for 120 days, beginning on March 27, 2020. Even if your property isn't covered by the CARES Act, many states are waiving evictions. Click here to find out more.

Coronavirus Debt Relief 

Even before COVID-19, Americans were carrying an average of $15,492 in credit card debt. The added pressure of a slowing economy will push may households into deep water, and many will feel that they simply can’t stay afloat.

ClearOne Advantage is dedicated to helping consumers achieve a realistic repayment and consolidation plan for eliminating debt.

ClearOne Advantage can assist you to alleviate the stress of financial hardship and get your finances back on track.

If you currently have high debt, debt in collections, or you are worried that the impact of the COVID-19 virus will leave you unable to pay your bills, ClearOne Advantage can help. We have proven strategies that you can apply to achieve COVID-19 debt relief. Some of our services include:

  • Debt consolidation, which rolls multiple debts into one single payment. The goal is to take the highest interest debts, such as credit card bills, and roll them into a solo lower interest payment to save money and get back on track.
  • Credit counseling, which provides expert advice to consumers on how to balance their budget, pay off debts, and get control of their financial life. 
  • Debt settlement, which is a negotiated process between the lender and a third-party like ClearOne Advantage that allows you to pay a lump sum that is often less than the debt owed. 
  • Bankruptcy, which is a last resort, but sometimes a good option as a legal process that documents your inability to pay debts to creditors. While it wipes the slate clean, it does negatively affect your credit score.

ClearOne Advantage helps people find and evaluate their options for debt relief in challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic. To discuss your options for debt relief, please take the first step to financial stability today by contacting ClearOne Advantage.