Even though Congress is currently working on a plan to send checks to Americans that will hopefully help them through the financial crisis the coronavirus is causing, that money will likely not be enough for many people throughout the country. However, now is not the time to get discouraged. Even as people watch their bills climb and their income decrease, there are steps they can take to protect their finances and their credit during the crisis. Below are some of these steps that will help ensure people are protected both during and after the coronavirus crisis.
Watch Out for Price Gouging
As supplies such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer are in high demand throughout the state and the country, many people try to take advantage of others. Those that can get their hands on these in-demand items increase the cost of them, forcing others to pay unrealistic prices. In some cases, hand sanitizer could be found on Amazon for hundreds of dollars. This is price gouging, and it is against the law. Anyone that suspects someone is embarking on price gouging should contact the Florida Attorney General’s office and file a complaint.
Create an Emergency Budget
Everyone should always have an emergency budget, whether they are facing financial hardship or not. Determine what you need to live and pay for daily expenses, such as groceries, any income you currently have, and any cuts you can make. Saving is important, even when you are experiencing financial hardships, and perhaps even more so during difficult times.
Refrain from Online Shopping
People are spending a lot more time at home now, and they are becoming incredibly bored. During this time, it is tempting to hop online and buy some things that you need for your home, your closet, or just to pass the time. However, it is important to prioritize your finances over your boredom, or you could find yourself in even worse trouble. Use the internet to connect with people and talk to loved ones you cannot spend time with physically, but do not use it to fill the time by shopping.
Take Advantage of Deferred Tax Payments
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has announced that tax payments up to $1 million will be deferred for up to 90 days. If you are experiencing financial hardship, now is the time to take advantage of this tax break and divide up your payments if you can. This will free up some cash if you need to buy groceries, pay your rent, or take care of other immediate costs.
Do Not Dip Into Your Retirement Savings
Plunges in the market are very scary, and you may be tempted to pull your investments out before they sink even lower. However, unless you are facing a financial crisis in your own home, now is not the time to do that. In fact, it is the time to do the opposite. If you can, increase your contribution slightly now while stock prices are low. Once the coronavirus crisis is over, you will be even better off than you once were. If you have no other option, you can pull from your retirement savings. Just be sure that you do not take more than is absolutely necessary, and that you replace it as soon as possible.
Check Your Eligibility for General Assistance or Unemployment
If you think you will be unable to work for some time, a situation many American workers are facing, you should determine if you qualify for general assistance or unemployment insurance. The sooner you do this the better, because if you are approved, the sooner you will start to receive the benefits you deserve. Once you are approved, you may receive your check within seven to 10 days.
Obtain Your Credit Report
While you have some time on your hands, it is the perfect opportunity to obtain a copy of your credit report to ensure that it does not contain any inaccuracies. There may still be old debts that you have paid off on your credit report, or you could have been a victim of identity theft with another person using your name and personal information to access your credit. This can wreak havoc on your financial situation and once the coronavirus crisis is over, lenders and loan issuers may not be as sympathetic because they will still think that you should have corrected these errors long ago.
Watch Out for Scammers
It is common for Americans to come together in a time of crisis, and there is no doubt that this is happening all over the country. However, there are also scammers that prey on people who are scared, or that just generally want to help others. The coronavirus has only been in the country for a short time and already scams have emerged that state someone has found a cure or a vaccine for the coronavirus.
People can obtain the cure, say the scammers, by sending money to the people listed in the instructions. Others take to social media to ask for help in the way of donations when they do not really need it. They simply want to prey on the good intentions of others. It is important to avoid these scams so you do not fall into further financial hardship. Do some quick research before giving money to anyone, and keep updated on the latest news, including whether a vaccine has yet been developed.
Need Help Dealing with Debt Collectors? Call Our Florida Debt Defense Lawyers
Now is a time of struggle for everyone, but if you are facing a lawsuit, or fear you will be once the crisis settles down, it is important that you speak to a Fort Lauderdale debt defense lawyer who can help. At Loan Lawyers, we know how to defend against these lawsuits, and negotiate with the debt collectors so it never gets that far. If you are struggling with debt, call us today at (954) 523-HELP (4357) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
Loan Lawyers has helped over 5,000 South Florida homeowners and consumers with their debt problems, we have saved over 2,000 homes from foreclosure, eliminated more than $100,000,000 in mortgage principal and consumer debt, and have recovered over $10,000,000 on behalf of our clients due to bank, loan servicer, and debt collector violations. Contact us for a free consultation and find out more about our money-back guarantee on credit card debt buyer lawsuits, and how we may be able to help you.