Coronavirus/COVID-19 Information - Financial Regulation
Last reviewed/updated: August 16, 2021
COVID-19 FINANCIAL RELIEF GUIDE This downloadable consumer guide summarizes some of the new COVID-19 financial relief programs and consumer protections for Maryland residents and their families, with links to more resources. (Revised August 16, 2021)
INDUSTRY GUIDANCE FOR COVID-19 This webpage for industries supervised by the Commissioner of Financial Regulation includes COVID-19 advisories, regulatory guidance, and other resources for licensees, registrants, and state-chartered institutions.
The Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation is committed to keeping Marylanders informed about the impact COVID-19 emergency preventative measures will have on their financial institutions and financial activities. This page includes help for consumers on specific topics, consumer tips, and FAQs.
QUICK TIPS FOR CONSUMERS
- Contact your financial institution as soon as possible if you have difficulty repaying a loan or other debt obligation. You may have to be patient and diligent – many businesses are operating remotely with a reduced staff while responding to a large volume of requests. See Student Loan Relief and Mortgage Relief for more information about those topics.
- Beware of COVID-19 related scams. Watch for “imposter scams” – solicitations from fraudsters posing as trusted organizations attempting to scam you out of your unemployment benefits or stimulus payments. See Financial Fraud and Scams for more consumer tips.
- Stay informed about the newest financial relief programs and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Check our website frequently and see the Nonprofit and Government Resources section for help with topics not under our jurisdiction.
I have a question about the Maryland RELIEF Act stimulus payments.
The Maryland RELIEF Act, effective February 15, 2021, has several provisions intended to provide immediate economic relief to eligible Maryland residents and small businesses, including state-issued direct "economic impact" stimulus payments for low and moderate-income taxpayers. The RELIEF Act payments, distributed by the Maryland Comptroller, are not subject to garnishment by a financial institution or the state (except for actions or judgments awarding child support).
To learn more about the RELIEF Act, including the unemployment tax implications and how to find out if you are eligible for a direct payment, see the RELIEF Act Information page on the Maryland Comptroller's website.
What should I do if I can no longer afford payments on a loan or other debt obligation?
If you are having trouble making a loan or debt payment because of COVID-19 related circumstances, notify your lender, loan servicing company, or creditor as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Many lenders and creditors are offering temporary payment relief in the form of forbearance, payment deferrals, or new repayment plans, but you must contact the company to request assistance and maintain contact throughout the process.
See your monthly statement to find the appropriate contact information for your lender or creditor. For bank information, see also the Maryland Bankers Association’s coronavirus-related resource page; and for credit union information, see the MD|DC Credit Union Association’s consumer guide to credit unions.
Additional options are available for student loan borrowers and mortgage borrowers facing default due to COVID-19 circumstances. See the pages on Student Loan Relief and Mortgage Relief and Foreclosure Prevention for more information.
Will my credit be impacted if apply for unemployment or if my loan is in a COVID-19 related forbearance or repayment plan?
Applying for and receiving unemployment insurance benefits does not impact a person’s credit score.
With respect to loan relief, the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes requirements for companies that report your information to the credit bureaus. If you are current at the time you enter into a forbearance, deferment, or other repayment plan due to COVID-19, your payment status should remain as “current”; if you are delinquent at the time you enter into such a plan, your payment status will reflect the delinquency status until the loan is brought current. These requirements apply to mortgages and student loans covered under the CARES Act.To assist consumers with monitoring their credit, the three main credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – are offering online credit reports free through April 2022. Contact the credit bureaus directly to obtain your report or visit the federally-authorized website AnnualCreditReport.com.
Will I continue to have access to my money? Should I withdraw cash from my account?
We understand that the public may have financial concerns during this time of uncertainty and be tempted to make larger than normal cash withdrawals. Banks and credit unions are open as essential businesses and should be able to accommodate your requests. Be aware that holding large sums of cash increases your risk of loss and theft.
Your money is safe in an insured financial institution. Checking, savings, share, and other deposit accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) up to $250,000 per depositor per account.
How should I be accessing my bank account and conducting financial transactions?
Maryland banks, credit unions, and financial service providers (including mortgage companies, mortgage brokers and consumer lenders, among others) are operating under precautionary measures, with increased focus on mobile, phone, and online services to reduce unnecessary public health risks and ensure employees and customers are safe.
If you do not already have electronic access to your financial account(s), you may wish to set this up as soon as possible through your institution’s website or mobile app. Electronic access allows you to view account transactions and check balances from home using your personal computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Depending on the type of institution, you may also have the ability to pay bills, transfer funds, and deposit checks remotely.
What should I do if I need to visit my bank, credit union, or financial services provider in-person?
In an effort to minimize risk and continue vital services to their customers, financial institutions and providers are implementing emergency policies and may modify hours or adopt precautionary measures to reduce the amount of face-to-face interactions. Such precautions allow businesses to remain in compliance with local, state and federal directives, including practicing social distancing, while mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
If you do need to visit a business in-person, follow these guidelines to keep yourself and others safe:
- Use the ATM or drive-through lanes, if available.
- If you need to meet with an employee to discuss your account, call ahead to schedule an appointment. This may reduce the amount of time needed for your visit.
- Maintain a safe distance from others and always wash your hands after visiting any business or public area.
Can I still take out a loan to purchase a home or refinance my mortgage?
Yes, however be prepared for delays in the process. The American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators (AAMR) has issued this message to mortgage applicants and existing mortgage borrowers:
“If you’ve applied for a mortgage, please be aware that there may be delays in the process. Some lenders may be operating with reduced staff, or may have directed staff to work from home. There may be delays in obtaining appraisals, inspections, or other services essential to processing your loan application. Stay in communication with your lender, but keep in mind that your lender is most likely doing its best to approve your application as quickly as possible. Please be patient. If you are buying a home and are concerned about missing the closing date specified in your contract, let your lender know, and contact your real estate agent as well. Remember that your seller may be just as concerned about selling the home as you are about buying it, and may agree to extend the contract.”
AAMR has the complete message regarding COVID-19 posted on its website.
How do I avoid COVID-19 related fraud and scams?
Fraud and scams come in a variety of forms including: phishing emails with malicious links or attachments that trick you into revealing sensitive information; illegal robocalls; illegal debt collection; and solicitations for donations to fake charities.
Be especially mindful of “imposter scams” – emails, phone calls, or other solicitations from fraudsters posing as government agencies or debt collectors in an attempt to scam you out of your unemployment benefits and IRS payments.
- Avoid clicking links in unsolicited emails and be wary of attachments.
- Do not reveal personal or financial information in an email or over the phone, and do not respond to solicitations for this information.
- Use trusted sources such as legitimate government websites for the most up-to-date fact-based information about COVID-19.
- If a debt collector contacts you, they must tell you the name of the creditor and amount owed.
- Always verify the legitimacy of a charity before making donations
See Financial Fraud and Scams for more tips and resources to protect yourself and your money.
I have a question that’s not addressed here. Where can I go for help?
See our Nonprofit and Government Resources page for information on topics not under the scope of our Office, including taxes, insurance, unemployment, employer and worker assistance, small business assistance programs, family support services, and public health guidance.
Also check your city or county government website for local resources. Contact 2-1-1 Maryland for help with food, housing, health, domestic violence, and other family or human services.
The Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation (“Office”) is Maryland's consumer financial protection agency and financial services regulator. The Office is responsible for regulating the financial services industry in Maryland. The financial institutions and businesses supervised by the Office include, but are not limited to:
- state-chartered banks and credit unions;
- mortgage lenders, servicers, brokers and originators;
- consumer lenders, installment lenders, and sales finance companies;
- check cashing and money transmission services;
- collection agencies and credit reporting agencies; and
- debt management and credit services businesses.
The Office is also home to the Student Loan Ombudsman, a dedicated resource for Marylanders with student loan servicing issues. For a complete list of supervised businesses and to learn more about the Office, visit the About Us page.
If you have an inquiry or complaint about a financial institution or financial services business in the above list, please contact our Consumer Services Unit by email at DLFRComplaints-LABOR@maryland.gov or by phone at 410-230-6077.