Financial Resources for Montana Residents Impacted by COVID-19

Text/HTML

The Montana Division of Banking and Financial Institutions (DBFI) has developed a list of financial resources for Montana consumers impacted by the Coronavirus. The Division will add to this list as more resources become available.

Last Updated: June 26, 2020

Live Accordion

Financial Institutions Remain Open

While the COVID-19 outbreak has closed many businesses, your local banks and credit unions remain committed to providing access to banking services.

As social distancing has been implemented across our state, here are some things to consider:

  • You can likely meet most, if not all, of your banking obligations without leaving your home as online, mobile and phone banking services are available. Many services are likely available 24/7 on your financial institution’s website or mobile app including: balance inquiries, transfers, loan payments, mobile check deposits, and transaction inquiries.
  • While many financial institutions have restricted access to their lobbies, you can access Drive-Thru teller services, Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) or Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
  • For branch services that require access to the banking facility, like safety deposit box retrieval, many financial institutions are providing these services on an appointment basis.
  • Before you head to your financial institution, visit their website or call to find information about hours, customer/member assistance, and current operations. You’ll also see other precautions your financial institution is taking to keep you and their employees as safe as possible.
  • Please keep in mind, there is no need to take out large amounts of cash to add to your existing emergency funds. Montana’s financial institutions have access to ample amounts of cash to accommodate residents’ continued daily needs.

Deposits Are Safe In Federally Insured Banks and Credit Unions

Federally insured banks and credit unions offer a safe place for members to save money. All deposits at federally insured banks and credit unions are up to at least $250,000 per individual depositor. For more information visit www.fdic.gov for federally insured banks, or www.ncua.gov for federally insured credit unions.

Tax Filing Deadlines Extended

The filing deadline for both state and federal tax returns has been extended from April 15 to July 15, 2020. Consumers who are owed a refund are encouraged to file as quickly as possible.

Additional Resources

Unemployment Help

If you are out of work, the Montana State Unemployment Insurance Division provides support services to individuals affected by COVID-19 in Montana.

The Employment Security Department has adopted a series of temporary emergency rules to relieve the burden of temporary layoffs, isolation, and quarantine for workers and businesses.

Trouble Paying Credit Cards

If you have seen a reduction in pay due to COVID-19 and are struggling to make your credit card or loan payments, contact your lender right away. Explain your situation and ask about hardship programs that may be available. Regulatory agencies have encouraged financial institutions to work with customers impacted by the coronavirus.

Credit card companies and lenders may be able to offer you a number of options to help you. This could include waiving certain fees like ATM, overpayments, and late fees, as well as allowing you to delay, adjust, or skip some payments.

Additional Resources:

Trouble Paying Your Mortgage

Important Things to Know First

  • If you can pay your mortgage, pay your mortgage.
  • If you cannot pay your mortgage, or can only pay a portion, contact your mortgage servicer immediately. Don’t wait until you’re behind on payments. Servicers may work with you to waive late fees, set up a repayment plan or offer loan forbearance.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The CARES Act puts in place two protections for homeowners with federally backed mortgages:

  • Your lender or loan servicer may not foreclose on you at least until June 30, 2020. Specifically, the CARES Act prohibits lenders and servicers from beginning a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure against you, or from finalizing a foreclosure judgment or sale, during this period of time. A right to forbearance for homeowners who are experiencing a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency.
  • If you experience financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, you have a right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days. You also have the right to request one extension for another up to 180 days. You must contact your loan servicer to request this forbearance. There will be no additional fees, penalties or additional interest (beyond scheduled amounts) added to your account. You do not need to submit additional documentation to qualify other than your claim to have a pandemic-related financial hardship.

If you do not have a federally backed mortgage, you still may have relief options through your mortgage servicer.

How to Request Forbearance or Other Mortgage Relief

Call your servicer, or review your servicer’s webpage for COVID-19 relief options and applications.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created a guide to COVID-19 mortgage relief options and a summary of forbearance programs.

For Assistance:

  • Homeowners in distress may call DBFI’s at 1-406-841-2920 to talk to a member of our team and to get assistance in how best to contact their mortgage servicer, and to learn more about their options.

Is My Mortgage Federally Backed?

To be eligible for protections under the CARES Act, your mortgage must be federally owned or otherwise backed by one of the federal agencies and entities. If you don’t know who owns or backs your mortgage, you can call your servicer.

Federal agencies and entities

  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • USDA
  • USDA Direct
  • USDA Guaranteed
  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) – includes reverse mortgages
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac

If your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac:

In addition to the foreclosure moratorium and forbearance, if you are granted forbearance to delay making your monthly payments during this temporary period:

  • You won’t incur late fees
  • You won’t have delinquencies reported to credit reporting companies
  • Foreclosure and other legal proceedings will be suspended

You can find out if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns your loan by using their loan lookup tools below, or by contacting your mortgage loan servicer to ask who owns your loan.

If your mortgage is backed by FHA:

In addition to the CARES Act special COVID-19 forbearance, FHA also implemented the COVID-19 National Emergency Partial Claim, an option to be used by servicers when the COVID-19 forbearance period ends. This partial claim will help eligible homeowners who have been granted special COVID-19 National Emergency forbearance to reinstate their loans by authorizing servicers to advance funds on behalf of homeowners. The partial claim will defer the repayment of those advances through an interest-free subordinate mortgage that the borrower does not have to pay off until their first mortgage is paid off.

Further, FHA instructed mortgage servicers to:

  • Delay submitting Due and Payable requests for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages by six months, with an additional six-month delay available with HUD approval; and
  • Extend any flexibility they may have under the Fair Credit Reporting Act relative to negative credit reporting actions.

What if My Mortgage is Not Federally Backed?

If you have a mortgage loan that is not backed by one of the federal agencies or entities listed above, contact your servicer. DBFI and other state and federal financial regulators have encouraged financial institutions to work with borrowers who are or may be unable to meet their obligations because of the effects of COVID-19.

Additional Resources

Trouble Paying Rent

If you are unable to make your rent payment, contact your landlord immediately and try to work out an agreement. If you are in need of rental assistance, you can also contact a housing counseling agency toll-free (800) 569-4287. They can help point you in the right direction.

Additional Resources:

Student Loans Deferment

If you’re in a short-term financial bind, you may qualify for a deferment or a forbearance. With either of these options, you can temporarily suspend your payments.

Additional Resources:

Emergency Grants

Governor Bullock Announces $123 Million Available in Emergency Grants
Governor Steve Bullock today announced that families, small businesses, non-profits, health services centers and individuals across Montana hardest-hit by impacts of COVID-19 will be eligible to apply for grants through nine new programs created in response to the emergency. Guided by more than 1,400 public comments and his Coronavirus Relief Fund Advisory Council, Governor Bullock is making $123,550,000 available in the first round of emergency grants funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Beginning Thursday, May 7, Montanans out of work, families with limited resources, small businesses, non-profits and others can apply for financial relief for things like rental and mortgage assistance, business and non-profit grants, grants to serve seniors and those living with a disability, food banks and local food producers. A comprehensive information resource and application portal is available at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV. The application portion of the website will go live at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 7. To prepare for the application, businesses and non-profits should have their tax ID, proof of business registration, a brief description of how the grant will be spent, and a brief description of how COVID-19 has impacted operations. Homeowners and renters should have bank account information available and verification of job or income loss. To apply, click HERE

Short Term and Emergency Loans

Consider your options before taking out a high cost short term loan. Talk with your creditors to negotiate more time to pay bills, borrow from friends or family, or explore low interest loans offered by local banks and credit unions.

If you do take out a short-term loan, make sure the lender is licensed with the Montana Division of Banking and Financial Institutions and borrow only what you can afford to pay back. Currently, Montana does not have any licensed deferred deposit lenders ("payday lenders"); this includes payday lenders with a physical presence in the state as well as online lenders. 

Paying Utilities

If you are struggling to pay your utility bills, contact your service provider right away. Many utility service providers offer emergency assistance programs.

Insurance Issues

The Montana State Auditor’s Office has resources and information available for consumers who have insurance related questions.

Small Businesses

Paycheck Protection Program Frequently Asked Questions

The Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, has been issuing FAQs regarding implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), established by section 1102 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act or the Act). Specifically, some of those FAQs involve explaining the requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), and how lenders can meet those requirements when issuing a PPP loan. As the administrator of the BSA, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is re-publishing those FAQs. FinCEN will update this document with any additional BSA-related FAQs involving the PPP.

FAQs:https://www.fincen.gov/news/news-releases/paycheck-protection-program-frequently-asked-questions

Avoiding Scams

Consumers should be on alert for increased fraud during the COVID-19 outbreak. Consumers should be vigilant about protecting their finances and should not share financial or other sensitive information with anyone who contacts you unsolicited.

Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:

  • Your bank or credit union should not ask for you financial account details via email. If you receive an email, contact your bank or credit union with the contact information listed on their website.
  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the (CDC) and the World Health Organization's (WHO) websites.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.

Coronavirus Scams To Watch Out For

Below are COVID-19 related scams Montana consumers should beware of.

Checks from the Government Scams

The Federal Trade Commission is warning Americans to beware of scams regarding checks coming from the federal government. Keep in mind that the government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees. No charges. No nothing. The government also will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.

Price Gouging

Consumers have been reporting price gouging during the COVID-19 outbreak. Attorney General Tim Fox has warned consumers of potential price gouging and scams related to COVID-19 public-health crisis. For coronavirus-related consumer complaints regarding price gouging or scams, call the Montana Office of Consumer Protection at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500 or use their online complaint form.

 

COVID-19 Investment Scams

The Office of the Montana State Auditor is reminding investors to beware of con artists looking to cash in on the COVID-19 outbreak. Before making any major investment decisions you should do your research and verify that you are working with licensed financial professionals.

Impostor Scams

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is warning scammers using their name fraudulently. The FDIC does not send unsolicited correspondence asking for money or sensitive personal information.

FinCen issued an advisory on detecting, preventing, and reporting consumer fraud and other illicit activity related to COVID-19. 

Text Message and Robocall Scams

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is warning Americans to beware of text message and robocall scams regarding COVID-19. The FCC has received reports of scam and hoax text message campaigns and scam robocalls offering free home testing kits, promoting bogus cures, selling health insurance, and preying on virus-related fears.

Phishing Email Scams

Be on the lookout for phishing emails asking you to provide personal information and trick you into clicking on links. You should never be asked to provide personal information such as social security number, bank account information, or passwords via email. >

Counterfeit Treatments or Equipment

Be cautious of anyone selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19. Be alert to counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves. More information on unapproved or counterfeit PPE can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh. You can also find information on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website, www.fda.gov, and the Environmental Protection Agency website, www.epa.gov. Report counterfeit products at www.ic3.gov and to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at iprcenter.gov.

COVID-19 Rumors

Rumors regarding the COVID-19 pandemic continue to circulate. Always go to trusted sources of information like coronavirus.gov, coronavirus.wa.gov, or your state and local government’s official websites or social media accounts for instructions and information specific to your community.

Additional Resources

Text/HTML