COVID-19 forgiveness programs expiring. What you need to know

Families continue to struggle as stimulus money and COVID-19 forgiveness programs come to an end. And while lenders made promises that they would be flexible, hundreds of consumers say they are not living up to their promises.

Unfortunately, we are getting complaints from consumers that their financial futures are being negatively impacted by lenders so there are things every consumer should be doing right now to protect themselves later.

Early on in the pandemic, lenders promised consumers could skip or reduce payments on mortgages, student and auto loans and credit cards without penalty. But since March, hundreds and hundreds have complained to the federal consumer bureau that lenders are not delivering on that promise.

"They found out that their accounts were now reported as delinquent, and that made their credit scores plummet," said Herb Weisbaum, a contributing editor at Checkbook Magazine.

A single late payment can make your score plunge by as much as 100 points.

"The first thing is anyone who has received any sort of accommodation from a lender, you need to check your credit report," he said.

From now until April 2021, you can check your credit report for free, weekly with all three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion by going to www.annualcreditreport.com.

If you spot a mistake on your report, challenge the error through the credit bureaus and contact your lender.

"Then your last step is to complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That complaint is made public and the lender is given opportunity to respond, but that will get their attention because you've contacted a government agency," he said.
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