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Coronavirus/COVID-19 Information - Financial Regulation

(This page is updated regularly. Last update October 16, 2020.)

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 October 16, 2020)

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.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I am unemployed or have a reduced income due to COVID-19. How can I make sure I don’t lose my home because I can no longer afford my payments?

There are housing protections in place for Maryland residents, pursuant to Governor Hogan’s executive order 20-10-16-01:

  • Residential foreclosures cannot be initiated until January 4, 2021;
  • Rental evictions are prohibited if the tenant has a substantial loss of income related to COVID-19, until further notice or the state of emergency is lifted; and
  • Creditors are prohibited from repossessing personal property used as a residence, including mobile homes, trailers, and live-aboard boats, until further notice or the state of emergency is lifted.

Use this time to communicate with your landlord or lender to work out a new payment plan. Homeowners, including some residential landlords, may also qualify for COVID-19 mortgage relief.

Check the website for Maryland Unites: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic and our Nonprofit and Government Resources page to learn more about state and federal assistance programs, including small business support.

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 COVID-19 payment relief, but you must contact the company to request assistance.

  • For businesses such as mortgage companies, student loan servicers, collection agencies, consumer lenders or sales finance companies, see your monthly statement to find the appropriate contact information.
  • For bank information, see the Maryland Bankers Association’s coronavirus-related resource page.
  • 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 2021. 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.

For information about deposit insurance from these agencies in light of COVID-19, see FDIC’s press release and NCUA’s press release.

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 do not shake hands.
  • Try to refrain from directly touching publicly-used items such as pens, touchscreens, and keypads. Bring your own pen, and consider wearing single-use gloves or using sanitizer wipes for touchscreens or keypads.
  • 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.

ABOUT OUR OFFICE

The Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation (“Office”) is Maryland's banking and financial services regulatory agency. 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 experiencing student loan servicing issues. For a complete list of supervised businesses and to learn more about the Office, return to our home 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.

For other matters please email DLFRFinReg-LABOR@maryland.gov, call 410-230-6100, or see our Contact Us page for more Office contacts.

Read our Consumer Advisories
More Consumer Resources
COVID-19 Financial Relief Guide for Marylanders (pdf)