Watch CBS News

Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: Pandemic Has People Struggling To Pay Bills; Here's How To Get Help

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A new month has arrived and the monthly payment cycle has come around again.

Mortgages, car payments, credit cards, student loans and utility payments are due even as many people are facing layoffs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lenders say there is no shame in this, as no one could have predicted what everyone is going through.

The key to handling the maze of financial survival is as close as your phone.

Dollar Bank Senior Vice President for Residential Lending Mike Henry says, "It starts with a phone call. Start with that and don't refrain from calling, many people do when they get into a hardship. But start by calling."

Dollar Bank has signed on to Attorney General Josh Shapiro's "PA CARES Package" along with PNC Bank and First Commonwealth.

Henry says an extension of their standard practices is to work with consumers when they hit a rough patch.

"It's not just mortgages, it's home equity loans, it's lines of credit, car loans, unsecured personal loans, whatever it might be, student loans," Henry said.

Under the "PA CARES Package," the banks agree to:

  • 90-day grace period for mortgages (at least)
  • 90-day grace period for other consumer loans such as auto loans
  • 90-day window for relief from fees and charges such as late, overdraft fees
  • Foreclosure, eviction or motor vehicle repossession moratorium for 60 days
  • No adverse credit reporting for accessing relief on consumer loans
  • It's not like the banks are going to just forgive your mortgage payments.

    Henry says, "We'll work out with individuals whether it's paid overtime or tacking it onto the end of the loan or maybe you're able to catch up then and there," Henry said.

    But he says you do have to qualify by filling out a hardship letter.

    "Maybe it's unemployment, maybe you're being furloughed, a reduction in hours so we'll document that and get you into the process," Henry said.

    The idea of seeking relief doesn't stop with the banks. Credit card companies and utility companies are also open to your call.

    The operative word there is you have to call.

    While PNC, Dollar Bank and First Commonwealth have signed on to the AG's plan, other lenders are willing to work with you as well.

    Freddie Mac, and Fanny Mae – which hold a large number of mortgages and loans – are also willing to help.

    Contact your mortgage holder to see what can be worked out.

    One thing to understand right now is that everyone is getting swamped with calls.

    In many cases, you can start the process online and spare yourself the frustration of not being able to get through on the phone.

    View CBS News In
    CBS News App Open
    Chrome Safari Continue
    Be the first to know
    Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.