Mortgage relief is confusing for struggling homeowners

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Americans struggling to pay their mortgages because they’ve lost a job or income during the coronavirus pandemic can put off that bill for up to a year, thanks to the $2.2 trillion federal rescue package.

Instead of feeling relief, many are anxious and unclear about their obligations because of confusing messages from the government and banks.

Some homeowners say Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase have told them they have to repay those postponed payments – known as forbearance – in a lump sum once three months are up. It’s an unexpected demand they fear could put them deeper in debt as millions are laid off and watching their retirement savings plunge with the stock market.

Anthony Adams is one of the anxious Americans who is confused and worried about the rules. He is late on his mortgage payment to Wells Fargo after the coronavirus pandemic crimped sales at his family’s bakery in Orlando, Florida, forcing him out of a job. 

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Wells Fargo offered Adams a 90-day deferment on his mortgage, which is backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but the 49-year-old was surprised when Wells told him he’d still owe three months’ worth of payments – plus the current month – once that forbearance period was up. Adams declines to say what his payments are.


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