Our highest priority is keeping Arizonans healthy, safe, and economically secure.

Arizonans: the fastest way to get assistance or info. from our office is to email casework@sinema.senate.gov.

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STUDENT AND CONSUMER BORROWERS

We know this can be a stressful time and that while income may be reduced, many Arizonans still have outstanding loans and debt payments coming due. 

Resources are available to help deal with student loans, car payments, and other consumer debt. This is not an exhaustive list: you may have other options depending on your situation. 

We also urge you to use caution, as some will try to use this crisis as an opportunity to scam others. Always be on the lookout for frauds and deals that are too good to be true. When possible, stick to trusted sources like the Consumer Financial Protection BureauIf you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, please report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721 or at disaster@leo.gov.

If you are a senior and suspect you have been a victim of elder fraud, for non-life-threatening emergencies please call the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-372-8311. For additional elder fraud and abuse resources, please visit https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/support/resources-neighborhood?state=AZ

Missing payments can affect your credit score leading to long-term implications on what and how you can borrow in the future. If you are financially affected by the coronavirus outbreak, you should be proactive in talking to your lender or servicer.

STUDENT LOANS

If you are concerned about your studies or loan repayment, the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid has an informational page on their website. The website is updated regularly with information for students, borrowers, and families. To access this webpage please click HERE.

The Department of Education announced all borrowers with federally held student loans will have interest rates set at 0% for a period of at least 60 days. Borrowers will also have the option to suspend their payments for at least two months. For more information please click HERE.

On March 25, the Department of Education announced it will stop collection actions and wage garnishments until May 12, 2020. This means the Department has stopped all requests to the Department of Treasury to withhold money from defaulted borrowers’ federal income tax refunds, Social Security payments, and other federal payments. These “Treasury offsets,” are permitted by federal law and applied toward the repayment of defaulted federal student loans. 

The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, provides temporary relief for federal student loan borrowers with federally-held loans (Direct Loans and FFEL loans) through September 30, 2020. Borrowers will not be required to make any payments toward outstanding interest or principle. Borrowers with these loans do not need to do anything to receive these benefits, they will be applied to your account automatically. 

On August 21, 2020, the Department announced it will extend federal student loan relief through December 31, 2020. The announcement specifies that the Department will automatically suspend loan payments, set loan interest rates at zero percent, and extend the stay on collection actions and wage garnishments during this period. For more information on the announcement please visit HERE. For the announcement please click HERE.

Borrowers may still make payments if they wish, but there will be no penalty for missing payments until the end of the year. If you are not sure whether your student loans may be eligible, please contact your loan servicer.

It is important to note that these benefits do not apply to Federal Perkins Loans or private student loans. Borrowers with these loans should contact their loan servicer, many of whom are offering relief programs for borrowers. 

The CARES Act also suspends interest accrual for such loans and prohibits forced collections and negative credit reporting through September 30, 2020. Student borrowers will still receive credit toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-Driven Repayment forgiveness, and loan rehabilitation. 

For more information on how this legislation affects you, please contact my office

CAR/PERSONAL LOANS

If you are having trouble making your payments, the first thing you should do is contact your lender. The government has encouraged private sector lenders to work with their customers to offer flexibility. 

If you talk to your lender, they may be able to offer you a range of options such as waiving fees at ATM’s, stopping overdraft fees, or allowing you to skip or delay or extend payments. They may be able to offer you a temporary lower annual percentage rate (APR) or interest. You may also be able to go on to a payment plan that meets your needs. 

When talking to your lender be prepared to explain the details of your situation and how it has changed. Be honest about what you can afford to pay and work with them to come to a mutually beneficial outcome. 

Several banks are already waiving fees, increasing cashback bonus’ and offering additional services. Contact your bank or explore their website to see if these may apply to you. As always, read any documents before signing them and look for resources that you can trust. 

OTHER FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

You should always be aware that scammers will try to use false information and panic to create confusion and take advantage of others. The Federal Trade Commission has some good guidelines on how to protect yourself. If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, please report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721 or at disaster@leo.gov.

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Federal coronavirus-response legislation: click HERE.

Specific actions Kyrsten is taking on behalf of Arizona: click HERE.

Visit our main resources page: sinema.senate.gov/corona.