//COVID-19 & Consumer Protections

COVID-19 & Consumer Protections

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The COVID-19 pandemic is creating upheaval in people’s lives, especially the most vulnerable, and NCLC is working with allies, government officials, and businesses, to help. This list of resources, which will be updated as new information is available, is a guide to help families navigate their financial lives during these turbulent times. It also includes best ways to connect with NCLC while our staff works from home to avoid community spread.

Advocacy Resources || Training & Conferences || Additional Resources for Advocates and Consumers

Resources

Advocacy

NCLC staff are working with allies, federal and state policymakers, and industry to push for relief for consumers facing financial distress in light of the coronavirus crisis.

General Consumer Protections

Federal Relief

Autos

NCLC Recommendations

Bank and Prepaid Card Accounts, Bank Fees

State Relief

  • States, including New York, have ordered or encouraged relief affecting overdraft, ATM and credit card late fees.

NCLC & Other Recommendations

  • Banks and credit unions that offer safe checkless checking accounts that meet the Bank On National Account Standards (including no overdraft or NSF fees) and are likely open to people with blemished account screening histories can be found at the very bottom of this Bank On page.

Bankruptcy

  • Group letter urging Congress to adopt amendments to the Bankruptcy Code in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, March 24, 2020

Credit and Debt 

Federal Relief

State & Local Relief

NCLC is tracking state and local government responses to the coronavirus that are relevant to the collection of non-mortgage consumer debts, including:

  • Prohibition of Certain Collection Practices –  Entries track practices in the collection of civil, non-mortgage debts by debt collectors or creditors that have been temporarily prohibited due to the coronavirus.
  • Non-essential Business Closure Orders –   Entries track the impact of non-essential business closure orders on debt collection practices. Entries highlighted in green indicate debt collection agencies can continue to operate despite the closure of non-essential businesses. Entries highlighted in red indicate state actions that prohibit collection from operating under the order. The remainder do not explicitly reference collection agencies and are left to interpretation.
  • Can Debt Collectors Work from Home? –   Entries track orders and guidance related to whether debt collectors can work from home. Only highlights guidance that has been issued in relation to the coronavirus. Some jurisdictions may have had prior guidance.
  • Bar on Collection of Debts Owed to State/Local Government  –  Entries track state and city temporary orders that have been enacted to bar the collection of debt owed to the government.
  • Suspension of Certain Court Proceedings Related to Debt Collection  –  Entries include a non-comprehensive list of courts that have suspended certain judicial proceedings or activities related to the collection of civil, non-mortgage debts. For more about state court closures see the National Center for State Courts website.
  • Calls to Action – Entries track calls to action from legislators, attorneys general, businesses, and advocates to state governments and industry leaders calling for collection moratoriums and other debt collection related consumer protections.
  • Other Debt Collection Responses – Entries include responses by states that do not fall into one of the other categories, such as new legislation relating to debt collection during the coronavirus pandemic and recommendations for collection practices from state agencies.

NCLC Recommendations

Credit Reporting

Criminal Justice 

State Relief

NCLC & Other Recommendations

  • Group letter urging free access to telephone and video conferencing (where available) for all those incarcerated in Massachusetts, given the suspension of personal visitation to prevent the spread of COVID-19, March 20, 2020
  • Fines and Fees Justice Center’s COVID-19 Policy Recommendations urging state and local governments to make immediate changes to their criminal, traffic and municipal ordinance fines and fees policies to protect public health and ensure that fines and fees are not a barrier to people’s basic needs throughout this emergency.

Housing

Federal Relief

  • Appraisal Changes for Government-Backed Mortgages:
    • Fannie MaeFreddie MacFHA, and VA to allow appraisals without interior inspections
    • The Appraisal Institute and the Appraisal Foundation have  extensive information on how COVID-19 is affecting appraisers
    • The USDA has waived or relaxed certain parts of the application process for Single-Family Housing Direct Loans, including site assessments, and has extended the time period that certificates of eligibility are valid
  • Group comments to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development re: Mortgagee Letter 2020-04 and urgent steps needed to protect reverse mortgage borrowers during the COVID-19 public health crisis, March 24, 2020
  • S. 3509 (Brown) To Protect American Families Facing Financial Hardship or Foreclosure Due to a Declared Disaster, Including COVID-19 – NCLC (on behalf of its low-income clients) supports this bill. NCLC Press Release. 
  • For mortgage borrowers facing difficulties as a result of the pandemic, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, FHFA, and the VA have issued guidance for borrowers and reminders to loan servicers about options available for borrowers in hardship.
  • HUD issued a foreclosure and eviction moratorium for all FHA-insured Single Family mortgages for 60 days, effective March 18, 2020.

State & Local Relief

Racial Equity

NCLC & Other Recommendations

Student Loans

  • H.R. (Pressley, Omar), Student Debt Emergency Relief Act – NCLC supports this bill, which will provide immediate relief for workers and families crushed by record levels of student loan debt during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Senators Schumer, Murray, Brown and Warren unveiled an emergency student loan payment and relief plan, March 19, 2020.  NCLC supports this bill. NCLC StatementGroup Statement.

NCLC Recommendations

Utilities and Bridging the Digital Divide

Federal Relief

NCLC Recommendations

  • Access to the internet for emergency alerts, medical advice, arranging for delivery of supplies, and social contact is more important than ever in this emergency. NCLC is encouraging internet and broadband providers to lift data caps and increase data speed for low-income consumers to help bridge the digital divide.

State & Local Relief

NCLC Recommendations

Training and Conferences at NCLC

All information will be updated on our Conferences or Webinars pages.

  •  NCLC’s Mortgage Conference is scheduled for June 15-16 in Baltimore, Maryland, with an all-day pre-conference intensive on bankruptcy on June 14. We are monitoring the course of the coronavirus and are optimistic that we can go forward with this conference. In the meantime, people interested in attending should save the date.
  • NCLC’s annual Consumer Rights Litigation Conference will be November 19-22 in Atlanta. Course proposals should be submitted by Tuesday, March 31 here.

Additional Resources

Advocates

The coronavirus crisis is likely to reduce families’ essential income, as businesses suspend or reduce operations. For state advocates working with their state legislators to protect people impacted by income losses due to COVID-19, NCLC’s report may be of help. No Fresh Start in 2019: How States Still Let Debt Collectors Push Families into Poverty surveys all 50 states and has a number of charts and maps assessing the extent to which state laws protect basic income and assets needed for survival: wages, home, car, bank account, household goods.

Consumers

2020-04-03T16:19:05-05:00