Financial resources made available to those with debt amid pandemic

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Associated Press

Ashley Dwy, Reporter

DeKALB — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) announced resources for consumers struggling to make payments on their debts due to the COVID-19 crisis in a news release.

Congress took specific actions for federal student loans held by the U.S. Department of Education. Interest rates on federal student loans have been reduced to 0%, repayments are suspended and involuntary collection activity on federal student loans, including wage garnishments and offsets, will also be suspended until Sept. 30, according to the release.

Credit reporting will take place as if the borrower were making timely payments, according to the release.

For both private and federal loans, students are recommended to contact their student loan provider as quickly as possible if they are having trouble making their payments. Borrowers experiencing trouble with their student loan providers can contact the IDFPR Division of Banking at 217-785-2900 for information or to file a complaint with IDFPR or the Attorney General’s Student Loan Helpline at 800-455-2456 or file a complaint with the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.

For renters, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an Executive Order March 20, pausing all evictions from homes and rental units, according to the release.

To protect consumers’ credit history due to hardships caused by COVID-19, those who are having trouble making their payments can contact their creditors to explore potential deferments or payment plans, according to the release.

Credit users are also recommended to regularly monitor their credit and contact their creditors and consumer reporting agencies if they find any errors, according to the release.

Under federal law, everyone is entitled to one free credit report from each of the three agencies annually, according to the e-news release. You can request and review your free report online at annualcreditreport.com or by phone at 877-322-8228.

For information about your rights visit the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission.

IDFPR is encouraging all banks and credit unions to consider offering payment accommodations such as providing new loans on favorable terms to consumers, according to the release.

Banks and credit unions are also encouraged by the IDFPR to waive certain fees such as those for ATM usage, overdrafting, and late payments on credit cards and other loans. Also, to increase ATM daily cash withdrawal limits, according to the release.

An increase in credit card limits for creditworthy borrowers was also advocated, according to the release.

Customers should also be alerted to the heightened risk of scams and price gouging during the COVID-19 disruptions, and should contact their financial institutions before entering into unsolicited financial assistance programs, according to the release.