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Mortgage relief: What you need to know before you call your lender

HOUSTON – Many homeowners that are having a hard time paying their mortgage during this pandemic can ask their mortgage company for help. Under the new CARES Act, if you have a federally backed loan, they have to suspend your monthly payments.

But Consumer Reports researchers said many mortgage companies were giving homeowners who called inaccurate information.

“We heard dozens of stories where borrowers were being told that at the end of the forbearance period, they would owe all those skipped payments in one big lump sum.,” said Christine Tetreault of Consumer Reports. “You can imagine that’s pretty scary if you already can not afford your mortgage, and that’s why you sought help in the first place.”

Under the CARES Act, that lump sum is not required at the end of your forbearance period. There are four options homeowners and mortgage companies can choose to repay those skipped payments back when the homeowner gets back on their feet.

You can find out if you have a federally-backed mortgage, by using Fannie Mae’s look-up tool or calling 800-232-6643. Or call Freddie Mac at 800-373-3343 or use their online lookup tool. If your mortgage is federally backed, and you need help, call your mortgage company back and ask for it. If you need help understanding your options right now, you should meet with a HUD-certified housing counselor. You can find one here.