My Deferred Status is Set to Expire — What's Next?
Since the coronavirus first started substantially impacting the U.S. economy, millions of people financially affected by the pandemic have entered into loans forbearance or deferred payment plans with their lenders. These programs are designed to temporarily suspend or reduce the amount of your monthly loan payment for a set period. There shouldn't be any fees, penalties or additional interest added to your account through this deferment, but regular interest may still accrue.
A key term to understand here is temporarily. Many of these programs granted by lenders were set up for a three to six-month period and could expire very soon. That means at the end of the period, the temporary deferred payment feature will stop, and you will be expected to start paying the loan based on the terms you and the lender agreed to when you initially set up the program.
What if your situation has not improved?
Although the unemployment rate dropped from 13.3% in May to 11.1% in June, many states are now reporting an increase in coronavirus cases. Some states have begun reinstituting shutdown measures that will impact the financial health of many. There are still millions of people without jobs or working reduced hours. Without steady employment and income, many are still struggling to pay their bills.
If you find yourself in this situation, here are two things you should do:
Reach out to your lenders as soon as possible. Explain your circumstances and your need to extend the deferred payment plan or enroll in a new program. Do not assume the program terms will simply auto-renew. It is critical to have these interactions with your lender before the program expires. Not doing so could negatively impact your FICO® Scores if you miss a payment, and that missed payment could also be reported to the credit bureaus.
Do your homework and be prepared to discuss the program's payback structure. Three common structures include a deferment with a lump sum payment, a deferment with partial payments or a deferment with loan term extension. Be sure to document all interactions you have with the lender and carefully review any forms or agreements before signing to help prevent unwanted surprises down the road.
If the lender agrees to enroll you in a program, the reporting of an account being in deferred or forbearance status is not considered negative by the FICO Scores. However, the information your lender will likely update on the account (such as current balance and payment status) will continue to be considered your FICO Score. As such, you should confirm with your lender on how they intend to report the account to the credit bureau.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, reaching out to your lenders and understanding the payback structure helps you be on top of your loans. Join the myFICO Forums to see how others are adjusting to the new normal.