This piece was originally published by the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund (www.feea.org).
I reached out to Eric Selk, Executive Director at Hope Now, a non-profit alliance among counselors, mortgage companies, investors, regulators, and other mortgage market participants, to gather some tips for federal employees affected by the partial shutdown who might miss a mortgage payment due to not receiving a paycheck.
Here is what Eric suggested:
- Call your mortgage company without delay. You can find their phone number on a recent statement, along with your account number. If you don’t have a statement, look on the company’s website for a customer service number.
- Gather your furlough or excepted notice and recent pay stub, since the mortgage company may ask for documentation proving you are affected by the shutdown.
- Take notes during the call and ask for the name and/or employee number of the customer service representative you are speaking with.
- You might start off the call by saying, “I’m a federal employee affected by the government shutdown and am not receiving my pay until the government reopens. Can we discuss my options, I’m concerned I may miss a mortgage payment (s)?”
- Many mortgage companies differentiate between short-term (less than three months) and long-term (longer than three months) financial problems. When you call, be sure to explain if there are other issues that might affect your ability to catch up when you do get your back pay.
- As you hear different options, be sure to ask what if any fees or interest they may incur and if and how the different options will affect your credit report/rating.
- If your mortgage company does offer some form of forbearance or pause, you will likely have to pay the entire amount of missed payment(s) at the end of the agreed upon pause. Be sure to ask for specific details and amounts and when they will be due.
- Some banks and credit unions are offering low interest personal loans to those affected by the #shutdown. Be sure to ask for specifics about the interest, fees, repayment terms, and timeline for these loans. Personal loans will also go on your credit report.
- At the end of the call, if you come to an agreement from the mortgage company confirm with them that you will receive written notice of the agreement by email or post and hold on to that for your records.
Finally, other assistance may be available in your area for those affected. Call 2-1-1 for community information and referral services anywhere in the U.S. And visit FEEA’s Shutdown Resources page for links to national and regional information for feds.