COVID-19: Information for Consumers and Businesses

Updated October 28, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way we live, travel, and spend money. The Department of Consumer and Business Affairs is here to help. All of our services are free.

IN-PERSON SERVICES
DCBA’s new Downtown Los Angeles Headquarters at the Hall of Records and our branch office at the Lancaster Library are now available for in-person services by appointment. Face coverings and other health protocols are required for all staff and visitors.

Visit the Our Locations page to make an appointment.

ONLINE AND TELEPHONE SERVICES
LA County Disaster Help Center logoIf you are a business owner or worker seeking help or available resources, call our new L.A. County Disaster Help Center at (833) 238-4450. You can visit the Help Center website at lacountyhelpcenter.org.

If you are a renter or a landlord seeking help or available resources, visit rent.lacounty.gov or call our Housing and Tenant Protections unit at (833) 223-RENT (7368).

If you need additional help with consumer issues, such as price gouging, please call DCBA at (800) 593-8222. You also can report suspected price gouging online at stoppricegouging.dcba.lacounty.gov.

You can speak with a counselor via both telephone hotline numbers. Counselors are available Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

If your personal finances were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic or you need assistance connecting to personal financial resources, the Financial Navigators Program can help.

FREE WEBINARS: Check our calendars for upcoming events:

Select a question or section below to learn some important tips:

For Renters

Are there COVID-19 Protections for Tenants in L.A. County?

On September 28, 2021, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (“Board”) adopted the Los Angeles County (“County”) COVID-19 Tenant Protections Resolution (“COVID-19 Tenant Protections”), which extended certain protections previously in effect under the County’s Eviction Moratorium. The COVID-19 Tenant Protections are retroactive to March 4, 2020 and provide affirmative defenses against evictions for residential* and commercial tenants, including mobilehome space renters, through January 31, 2022, unless repealed or extended by the Board.

On March 31, 2020 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors issued an executive order placing a temporary rent freeze on rent-stabilized units in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of September 1, 2020, the County’s COVID-19 Tenant Protections apply to all incorporated cities if that city’s local protections do not provide the same or greater protections to commercial and residential tenants. Please see our website for a complete list of COVID-19 eviction protections in the County.

On June 28, 2021, Governor Newsom signed AB 832 into law, which extended state protections (previously AB 3088, SB 91, and AB 81) for residential tenants and mobilehome space renters facing eviction due to COVID-19 financial hardship through September 30, 2021. With the expiration of AB 832, Tenants that have not paid their rent and did not meet repayment requirements under the state law are no longer protected from eviction. Tenants are urged to apply to the state’s rent relief program, as you may be more protected from eviction. The County is preempted by state law from enacting new or amending existing protections for residential tenants related to nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 until March 31, 2022. However, all other Tenant protections offered through the County, including protections for no-fault evictions, denying entry to a landlord, and evictions for unauthorized occupants, pets, and nuisance, will remain in effect through January 31, 2022.

For more information on the protections established by AB 3088, SB 91, AB 81, and AB 832, guidelines related to landlord-issued notices, certification requirements, and more, please visit: http://www.housing.ca.gov or call 1-833-422-4255.

If you’re unsure if these eviction protections apply to you, please contact the Rent Stabilization Unit:

Phone: (833) 223-RENT (7368)

Email: rent@dcba.lacounty.gov

What is the County’s COVID-19 Tenant Protections Resolution?

Under the County’s protections, residential and commercial tenants, including mobilehome space renters may not be evicted for COVID-19 related nonpayment of rent** as well as no-fault reasons, denying entry to a landlord, nuisance, or unauthorized occupants or pets – if related to COVID-19.

*Note: Between October 1, 2020 and March 31, 2022, the County’s Protections do not apply to residential tenants facing eviction for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardship, as they are covered under the state’s eviction protections.

What do the County’s COVID-19 Tenant Protections include for residential tenants and mobilehome space renters (collectively, ``Tenants``)?

  • Provides an affirmative defense for evictions, except where necessary to protect public health and safety, for:
    • Nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardship through September 30, 2020;
    • No-fault reasons, including but not limited to, a landlord’s intent to substantially remodel or demolish the property, except:
      • As of July 1, 2021, where a landlord who owns a single-family home, mobilehome space, condominium unit, duplex, or triplex on or before June 30, 2021, and intends to move into up to two units for their or their family member’s use as their principal residence;
    • Unauthorized occupants or pets whose presence is necessitated due to COVID-19;
    • Nuisance; or
    • Denying entry to a landlord,
  • Prohibits rent increases or new pass-throughs for rent stabilized units or mobilehome spaces in unincorporated areas of the County (Chapter 8.52 and 8.57 of the County Code)
  • Prohibits imposing or charging late fees, interest, and any related charges for unpaid rent accrued during the protection Period*.

*Note: From October 1, 2020 – March 31, 2022, the County’s COVID-19 Tenant Protections do not apply to residential tenants facing eviction for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardship. Prohibition against late fees, interest, or other charges does not apply to residential tenants during this time period.

Commercial Tenants (Tenants)

  • Provides an affirmative defense for evictions, except where necessary to protect health and safety for:
    • Nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 related financial hardship;
    • Failure to repay unpaid rental debt accrued during the Moratorium under the terms of a payment plan, if the Tenant has nine (9) employees or fewer;
    • Tenants on a holdover or month-to-month lease.
  • Prohibits a landlord from applying a payment to any other rental obligation except the current month’s rent, unless the tenant agrees otherwise.

Does this mean tenants don’t need to pay their rent?

No, this moratorium is not a waiver of rent.

Residential tenants will have until September 30, 2021 to repay unpaid rent that came due between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020.

For unpaid rent that came due between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, residential tenants will need to follow the directives under AB 3088, SB 91, and AB 832 in order to establish protections against eviction.

No, the County’s COVID-19 Tenant Protections are not a waiver of rent. Residential tenants will have until September 30, 2021 to repay unpaid rent that came due between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020. For unpaid rent that came due between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, residential tenants will need to follow the directives under the State’s Protections (AB 3088, SB 91, AB81, and AB 832) in order to establish protections against eviction. Commercial tenants with nine (9) or fewer employees will have up to twelve (12) months following the end of the protections period to repay any past due payments. Commercial tenants with ten (10), but no more than one hundred (100), employees will have up to six (6) months following the end of the moratorium to pay back any past due rent in equal payments unless you have made prior arrangements with the property owner. Tenants are encouraged to pay partial rent during protections period if they can do so and work out a payment plan with their landlord during and after the termination of the County’s protections..

Can a Landlord evict a Tenant to move into a Property under the COVID-19 Tenant Protections?

As of July 1, 2021, a landlord or a qualifying family member can move into a single-family home, mobilehome space, condominium unit, duplex, or triplex (collectively “units”) if the property was purchased on or before June 30, 2021, and if they meet the following criteria:

  • The Landlord or Landlords qualifying family member must physically reside at the property for at least thirty-six (36) consecutive months;
  • The Tenants of the unit must be current on rent payments and not have been impacted by COVID-19;
  • The Landlord or Landlords qualifying family member must be similarly situated to the Tenant currently occupying home;
  • The Landlord must provide at least sixty (60) days’ notice to Tenant
  • The Landlord must pay tenant relocation assistance as required by the County’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance or the incorporated city’s applicable ordinance or regulation.

For more information on owner move-in requirements, contact the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) at (800) 593-8222.

What responsibilities do tenants and landlords have under the County’s COVID-19 Tenant Protections?

Commercial tenants (Tenants):

  • Tenants are responsible for providing notice to their landlord if they are unable to pay rent due to financial impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic within seven (7) days after rent is due, unless extenuating circumstances exist.
  • Landlords must accept a Tenant’s written or oral self-certification of inability to pay rent as a valid form of notice from Tenants with nine (9) employees or fewer and must accept a written notice with supporting documentation from Tenants with between 10 and 99 employees.
  • Landlords must provide Tenants with nine (9) or fewer employees a notice of their rights under the County’s protections within ten (10) days of issuing a notice of nonpayment.

Residential tenants (Tenants):

  • Tenants covered under the County’s COVID-19 Tenant Protections must notify their landlord, through a self-certification within seven (7) days after rent is due, unless extenuating circumstances exist.
  • Between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, Tenants must comply with the certification requirements established in the state’s eviction protections in order to be protected from eviction.

Landlords are prohibited from harassing Residential or Commercial Tenants that exercise their rights under the County’s protections and may be subject to administrative fines or penalties if they violate this provision. Tenants, or a representative acting on behalf of the Tenant, may sue a landlord in court for violations of the County’s protections.

Does my city have its own COVID-19 eviction protections?

Please visit rent.lacounty.gov to see if your city has COVID-19 eviction protections in place.

What if my landlord still tries to evict me?

The County or State protections or a combination of these may provide an affirmative defense if a Tenant is served with an unlawful detainer (formal eviction notice). Tenants are not required to move unless a Sheriff has served a Notice to Vacate.

Tenants can see if they qualify for free legal assistance, help understanding their rights, responding to notices, short-term rental assistance, and/or access to other resources by visiting www.stayhousedla.org or calling (833) 223-7368 for more information.

Who can I call for help?

If you still have questions or need assistance, contact us:

Download our FAQs here.

For Businesses

I own a business in L.A. County. Where can I find help?

If you are a business owner or worker seeking help or available resources, call our new L.A. County Disaster Help Center at (833) 238-4450.

Find out more about the L.A. Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund, the First Supervisorial District COVID-19 Business Relief Grant, and more loan and grant programs.

You can visit the Help Center website at lacountyhelpcenter.org.

Financial Navigators Program

What is the Financial Navigators Program?

The Financial Navigators Program is designed to help residents deal with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing remote assistance in navigating critical financial issues and making referrals to other social services and resources. Trained Financial Navigators will provide structured guidance over the phone that will help people strategize around supports for disruptions to their income and other financial concerns.

Some of the topics that may be discussed during the session may include:

  • Paying for daily expenses
  • Supplementing income
  • Paying back debt
  • Locating food and housing resources
  • Finding special services or resources for you and your family
  • How to stay well and plan ahead

If your personal finances were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic or you need assistance connecting to personal financial resources, please reach out to the Financial Navigators Program by completing a short form  or call 800-593-8222 if you need help completing the form.

How do I sign up for the free session?

Complete a short form or call 800-593-8222 if you need assistance in completing the form.

Stimulus Checks

What is the COVID-19 Economic Impact Relief Payment?

The federal government, in response to the economic impact brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic, has sent out three relief payments to those eligible.

The State of California also has the “Golden State Stimulus” program for eligible residents.

Beware of scammers who may try to trick you into giving out your personal information to commit identity theft or steal your relief payment.

Will I receive a relief payment?

In 2020, eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 automatically received the first economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each qualifying child. The second economic impact payment of up to $600 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $600 for each qualifying child is being sent out beginning in December 2020 into January 2021.

Tax filers with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 for individuals, and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns, will receive the full payment. For filers with a higher income, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with an income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible. Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are otherwise not required to file a tax return are also eligible and will not be required to file a return.

For the Golden State Stimulus from the State of California, you must:

  • Have filed your 2020 taxes
  • Be either:
    • A CalEITC recipient
    • An ITIN filer who made $75,000 or less (total CA AGI)
  • Live in California for more than half of the 2020 tax year
  • Be a California resident on the date payment is issued
  • Not be eligible to be claimed as a dependent

Who can I contact regarding receiving my relief payment?

Communicate only with the IRS. Scammers may pretend to be from the government and ask for your personal information such as identification number, Social Security number, or bank account information. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the tax return filed.

If you didn’t give the IRS, your bank information on your 2018 or 2019 tax return, the IRS will be setting up an online form available through irs.gov/coronavirus. No other third-party source should be considered legitimate. Never volunteer personal information or respond to a suspicious email, text, or call.

Do I need to sign-up or give someone my personal information to receive a check?

If you filed taxes for 2018 and/or 2019 the federal government has the information, then they will send you the money directly. If you have not filed these taxes you may need to submit a tax return to get your check. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return.

Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are not required to file a tax return also do not need to do anything to receive their money. Those who don’t normally file a tax return can visit the IRS website to register for the Economic Impact Payment.

Can I speed up the process to get my payment?

No. Beware of scammers offering special treatment to speed up the process of receiving payment or offering to get you more money.  No one has early access to relief payments. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.

Where can I get more information?

The IRS will post all key information at IRS.gov/coronavirus.

Get information about the Golden State Stimulus at the state’s website.

Price Gouging

What is price gouging?

Price gouging is the act of a business raising prices of needed products and services over 10% during a declared emergency.

Price gouging is prohibited and is governed by California Penal Code 396 and the Los Angeles County Price Gouging Ordinance. For 30 days following the declaration of emergency, it is illegal for a person, contractor, or business to sell or offer to sell any food items or goods or service for a price of more than 10 percent above the price charged by that person or business immediately before the declaration of emergency was issued.

Typically, this statute applies for 30 days after an emergency declaration. However, the statute applies for 180 days for reconstruction services and emergency cleanup services. State and local municipalities may extend the effective period of the statute beyond these timeframes.

Click to see a video about how L.A. County is protecting consumers from price gouging.

When does California’s anti-price gouging statute apply?

The statute applies immediately after the President of the United States, the Governor of California, or city or county executive officer declares an emergency resulting from any natural or man-made disaster, such as an earthquake, flood, fire, riot, storm or medical outbreaks or epidemics.

The State of California’s emergency declaration

Who is subject to the statute?

Individuals, businesses, and other entities must comply with the statute.

What goods and services does the anti-price-gouging statute cover?

The statute applies to the following major necessities: lodging (including rental housing, hotels and motels); food and drink (including food and drink for animals); emergency supplies such as water, flashlights, radios, batteries, candles, blankets, soap, diapers, temporary shelters, tape, toiletries, plywood, nails, and hammers; and medical supplies such as prescription and nonprescription medications, bandages, gauze, isopropyl alcohol, and antibacterial products.

It also applies to other goods and services including: home heating oil; building materials, including lumber, construction tools, and windows; transportation; freight; storage services; gasoline and other motor fuels; and repair and reconstruction services.

What do I do if I think a business is price gouging?

If you believe that you have been a victim of price gouging or you suspect a business is price gouging, contact the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at (800) 593-8222 or use our new online app: stoppricegouging.dcba.lacounty.gov.

For Property Owners

What relief is available for property owners impacted by COVID-19?

Property owners impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for temporary relief. The federal, state, and local governments announced several protections. Whether your loan is owned by the government, a national or state charter bank, or private institution, you may be eligible to reduce or delay payments for up to 12 months. This type of arrangement is called a Forbearance Plan/Agreement.

Furthermore, lenders may be limited in initiating foreclosures during the State of Emergency related to COVID-19. Please contact the Los Angeles County Disaster Help Center at (833) 238-4450, to assist you with inquiring about your eligibility or other foreclosure avoidance options.

Will I be charged a late fee?

Depending on the assistance provided by your lender, late fees may be waived during the agreement period.

Will my credit be impacted for not making payments?

Depending on the assistance provided by your lender, negative reporting to the credit bureaus may be suspended for the duration of the agreement period.

What if I am denied a forbearance?

If a lender denies a request for forbearance, they are required to provide a detailed explanation within 21 days of the denial, including ways to remedy the request.  If a revised request is provided to the lender, the lender has 5 days to either approve or deny the request.

What happens at the conclusion of the forbearance agreement?

Lenders are required to discuss information with borrowers concerning post forbearance loss mitigation options. The lender will be required to review individual borrowers based on guidance put out by the Federal Government. Please contact the Los Angeles County Disaster Help Center at (833) 238-4450, to assist you with inquiring about your options.

What is considered a COVID-19 hardship?

A COVID-19 hardship could be; a reduction or loss of income due to reduced hours, layoffs, or substantial decrease in business income caused by any local, state, or federal government response to COVID-19, or if you or someone you are caring for is being treated for the disease.

My property is currently in foreclosure, are there any protections for me?

If your property was in foreclosure prior to the pandemic/protection orders, you still may be protected. Some property owners may be eligible to have their foreclosure suspended until February 28, 2021. Property owners who have a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or FHA insured loan, may be eligible for a 6-month forbearance, with the possibility of an additional 6 months. Additionally, foreclosure proceedings, including initiation or completion, will be forbidden until at least February 28, 2021. (foreclosure moratorium). Please contact the Los Angeles County Disaster Help Center at (833) 238-4450, to assist you with inquiring about your eligibility.

I’m a landlord and my tenant’s inability to pay rent has created a financial hardship for me. Can you help me?

A new bill was passed in California requiring lenders to provide a forbearance plan to landlords with qualifying loans and who are experiencing financial difficulty due to a tenant’s inability to pay rent. To learn if you qualify for a forbearance or other loss mitigation option, please contact the Los Angeles County Disaster Help Center at (833) 238-4450 or by email at rent@dcba.lacounty.gov.

For assistance with your lender, please contact the Help Center at (833) 238-4450, to assist you with inquiring about your options.

Is mortgage relief available to businesses?

The relief is currently only available for residential mortgages. Although under the CARES Act, there are a number of programs aimed to help small business owners during the COVID-19 crisis. You can visit the webpage for the U.S. Small Business Administration to learn about relief available to small businesses.

My mortgage lender/ servicer is being unresponsive and/or non-compliant, what can I do?

The California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) regulates a variety of financial services and oversees residential mortgage lenders. You can file a complaint directly with the DBO if your mortgage lender is being unresponsive through the complaint form on the DBO website, by contacting the DBO Consumer Services Office at (866) 275-2677 or (916) 327-7585, or via email at Ask.DBO@dbo.ca.gov.

You can also file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) through their complaints webpage. You can also contact the CFPB by calling (855) 411-2372.

If you have further questions regarding your lender, please contact the Los Angeles County Disaster Help Center at (833) 238-4450, to assist you with inquiring about your options.

Can a third-party individual or organization assist me with my mortgage or foreclosure?

Be on the lookout for third parties claiming to help you with your mortgage loan or if you’re facing foreclosure. Some people prey on borrowers who are facing foreclosure and offer to help them for a fee. You can get free help and assistance directly from your mortgage lender/servicer. If you have further questions regarding a third party, please contact the Los Angeles County Disaster Help Center at (833) 238-4450.

Avoiding Vaccine Scams

I got an email about coronavirus. Is it a scam?

Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding coronavirus. They’re setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information. They are forging emails mentioning the outbreak that appear to be from business partners or public institutions to try to get users to open the messages, unleashing malware.

For legitimate information about vaccines in Los Angeles County, visit VaccinateLACounty.com.

Follow normal online tips to protect your money and identity. Most important, do not click on links or respond to an e-mail that you do not recognize.

The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips or fake information about cases in your neighborhood. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments.

How do I know my donation is going to a real charity?

How do I know my donation is going to a real charity?

In California, all legitimate charities and professional fundraisers must be registered with the California State Attorney General, Charitable Trusts Section. This office regulates charitable organizations to ensure donations contributed by Californians are not stolen or misused through fraud.

To ensure the charity you are donating to is legitimate, use the Attorney General’s Registry Verification Search here. This tool allows you to search the files of the Registry of Charitable Trusts.

Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowd funding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. Do not pay donations with gift cards or by wiring money.

Predatory Lending and Payday Loans

I am struggling to cover my bills during COVID-19, should I get a loan?

If you are having financial difficulties during the public health emergency, a loan can help maintain your living expenses. However, there may be other options to consider before you take out a loan, including:

  1. Delay paying certain bills

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, you may be able to delay payment on your utilities, mortgage payments, and student loans.

  1. Claim eligible benefits

Maximize your income during these times by claiming potential benefits. Please visit the LA County Help Center for more information.

  1. Reduce possible expenses or borrow from friends & family

Each household situation is different, but reducing your costs or receiving funds from a trusted person may be a better option than taking out a loan.

What should I be aware of before looking for a loan?

As people lose employment, are scheduled to work fewer hours, and lose sources of income during the State of Emergency, there may be attempts by loan sharks and scammers to profit. Some places offer high-interest loans with repayment terms that are worse for the customer than a loan from a bank or even credit cards. These include:

  • Check Cashing Stores
  • Prepaid Debit Cards
  • Payday Loans
  • Car Title Loans
  • Installment Loans with high APR
  • Pawnshop Loans
  • Rent to Own
  • Instant Tax Refunds
  • Buy Here, Pay Here Dealerships

Many of these high-cost loan services are located in neighborhoods with above-average poverty rates. BE AWARE of those offering money that is “instant”, “fast”, or are otherwise offering a loan without verifying a person’s ability to repay. During this difficult times, it can be easy to become trapped in a cycle of debt.

What are the best options for a loan?

If you decide to take out a loan, your best option is to first contact your bank or credit union. Let them know your financial needs during this crisis to see what options are available to you. During this pandemic, some lending institutions have begun offering small-dollar loans to their customers.

What are payday loans?

A payday loan is when a customer gives the lender a personal post-dated check or authorizes an electronic transfer for the amount of the loan plus a fee for up to $300 which is the maximum allowed in California. The borrower receives the loan minus the agreed-upon fee that cannot exceed 15% or $45 from a $300 check. The lender defers depositing the check for a specified period but not to exceed 31 days.

One person is allowed to take one payday loan at a time and should repay it in full before taking another one. Rollovers are not allowed and all the charges for extension are considered illegal.

BE ADVISED that payday lenders charged an average annual interest rate of 376% and to rely on repeat customers which creates a debt cycle. This is a much higher rate than most other loans or credit cards. Payday lenders often don’t consider whether you can repay the loan. This means you may not have enough money to pay off the loan forcing you to take out another loan.

What are my rights if I take a payday loan?

No criminal action against a customer who enters into a deferred deposit transaction is allowed. Any criminal penalty for the failure to repay is prohibited in California.

In case a check is returned unpaid, an additional maximum fee of $15 for non-sufficient funds (NSF) transaction is established.

In case of the check return due to insufficient funds, a lender is also not allowed to take any criminal action against the borrower.

One person is allowed to take one payday loan at a time and should repay it in full before taking another one. Rollovers are not allowed and all the charges for extension are considered illegal.

Borrowers are also prohibited to take one loan in order to repay another one. Every time the loan is applied the new procedure is initiated and a new agreement signed.

Lenders in California are strictly prohibited from giving extra loans to customers who haven’t repaid the previous ones. It is pretty difficult to monitor the actions of a borrower but it is not advised to take out a new loan before the old one is not yet resolved as long as it is fraught with never-ending indebtedness.

More information about payday loan laws and regulations in California can be found on the official California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) Division of Corporations page.

You can also file a complaint on their website with regard to illegal payday lender actions.

What happens if I can’t repay my payday loan?

Lenders will try to withdraw money from your account since you provided them with your account information when you provided them your post-dated check. A failed attempt can trigger bank fees against you. They will start further collection efforts and will start calling you and sending letters from their lawyers. They may even call your personal references. A lender may try to negotiate a settlement or may outsource the loan to a debt collector, which could file a civil lawsuit. If the lawsuit is successful, the resulting court judgment against you can lead to seizure of your assets or wage garnishments.

What is an installment loan?

It is a small-dollar loan you pay back on a set schedule of identical amounts each month. Installment lenders report your payment behavior with them to credit bureaus. Starting January 1, 2020, these loans have capped interest rates at 36% for loans between $2,500 and $9,999. Prior to that date there was no cap on what lenders could charge

What is an auto title loan?

It’s a short-term secured loan that requires you to hand over the title to your vehicle as collateral for the debt. They’re often compared to payday loans, but they can be even worse: If you don’t repay, the lender can seize your car. Click here for more information.

What is the process of getting a loan through a pawn shop?

A pawn loan is a type of secured loans with personal property used as collateral.

You will need to provide identification, give a thumb print and have your photo taken. A photo of your collateral will also be taken. You will also need to provide some personal information and details of the item being pawned. This information will be sent to local law enforcement.

You have a limited amount of time to repay your loan, along with interest and ticket-writing fees. If you do not pay off your loan in that time, you either forfeit your collateral or rewrite your loan.

You receive only a fraction of the value the pawnbroker believes the collateral would bring in a sale.

Interest rates are regulated by the state and vary depending on the size of the loan. A state license and police permit should be posted. The California Department of Justice regulates pawn shops.

Credit Scores and Repair

Will my non-payments of credit cards or bills affect my credit report and credit score?

If you are approved for a forbearance, a payment delay, or other payment arrangement with your creditor or servicer, and you are current on your accounts, then the creditor or servicer will continue to report you to the credit rating agencies (or CRAs) as current or up-to-date. In this case, your credit report and score would not be negatively impacted by these non- or delayed payments during the covered period of the arrangement.

Unfortunately, if you were already reported to be behind on payments prior to the payment arrangement, the creditor or servicer can continue to report you as late to the CRAs, meaning continued non-payments may be treated negatively on your credit report and score.

Federal student loan payments, which are suspended through September 2020, are treated on credit reports as if the payments are made. Therefore, if you are unable to make payments on your federal student loan, non-payments through September 2020 will not negatively impact your credit report and score.

I have fallen behind on my bill payments, can a third party help repair my credit?

The CARES Act suspends negative credit reporting for eligible federal student loan payments only, but not for any other loan obligation. However, if accommodations are made by creditors to current accounts (such as forbearance or partial payments), those accounts will continue to remain current. The suspension of student loan payments under the bill will not adversely impact your credit.

BEWARE of any individuals or companies offering to fix or improve your credit for a fee. Under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, it is unlawful to charge upfront fees for credit repair services. For information on how to avoid credit repair scams, more information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is available here. You can also contact the CFPB via telephone by calling (855) 411-2372.

Where can I obtain more information on addressing problems or credits with my credit report if the Consumer Reporting Agencies I contact are not responsive to my needs or questions?

You can contact the following agencies and offices for further assistance:

  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) consumer complaint portal here. You may also call the toll-free phone number at 1-855-411-CFPB (2372) or TTY/TDD phone number at 1-855-729-CFPB (2372)
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has consumer complaint portal here. You may also call the FTC Consumer Response Center at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
  • You can get information on how to contact the Attorney General for your state or territory online here or by phone at 1-844-USA-GOV1 (1-844-872-4681).
  • the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs has a toll-free number at (800) 593-8222

Managing car loan and lease payments

I can’t afford to make my car payment, what can I do?

Call your lender, they may be able to provide you with options or offer you a payment plan. These are some options that may be available through some lenders to help current borrowers:

  • Skip payments
  • Late fee waivers
  • Payment extensions
  • Payment deferrals

The options listed above may not be available by all lenders. Many lenders are still putting policies in place to help their customers during the COVID-19 crisis.

If your lender is not offering any assistance and you can’t afford to make a car payment or are behind in car payments:

  • Sell your car
  • Borrow from a friend or family member
  • Work with a credit counselor
  • Talk to an attorney
  • Give your car back to the lender – this is a last resort; your credit may be impacted, and you may still owe money to the lender after your vehicle has been auctioned (sold by the lender).

Don’t get scammed, watch out for credit repair services and offers to get you out of debt for a price. Scammers use difficult times to pray on vulnerable consumers.

What if I cannot pay my auto insurance?

On March 18, 2020, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the California Department of Insurance issued a notice requesting all insurance companies provide their policyholders with at least a 60-day grace period to pay their premiums. You should contact your insurance company if you need additional time to pay your premium.

For additional information, please contact the California Department of Insurance at 800-927-4357 or visit their website here.

My car lease is expiring, and the dealership is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what can I do?

If you are coming up on the end of your car lease, it is important that you make contact with the auto company responsible for your lease contract, the lending institution responsible for financing or the dealership itself. Communication is key.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many auto lease companies and dealerships are offering extensions on vehicle leases, which will allow you to turn in the vehicle at a later date, as well as offering relief programs and special financing. Depending on your situation, you may still continue to be responsible for any Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) fees during the extension period. Some auto lease companies are automatically extending customer leases if they have not heard back from the customer by the end of the lease; you are not required to accept the extension.

A vehicle lease is a contract that comes with an expiration date of when the vehicle needs to be returned back to the dealer. The contract also comes with an option for you to buy the vehicle which is a buyout. It is your responsibility to communicate to the auto lease company if you plan to turn in the vehicle or do a buyout.

If you decide to return your leased vehicle, you need to contact the dealership to make arrangements to drop off the vehicle. Some dealers are offering free pick-up or drop-off through their service departments. It is important that you check with your local dealership to see what options are available to you. Keep in mind that when you return a leased vehicle you may be billed later for any costs associated with the post-lease inspection process.

You cannot be forced to keep a vehicle if the lease has expired. If the lease has expired and the dealership is refusing to take the vehicle back, you can write to the finance company and the dealership informing them that you do not want the vehicle and that they will be responsible for any damages owed to you. If you are faced with this situation, be mindful that you will still be responsible for any damages or DMV fees associated with the vehicle as well as any vehicle insurance or registration until the vehicle is returned to the dealership or auto company.

Special event cancellation

Help! My special event was cancelled due to the COVID19 emergency. Am I still responsible for paying?

It depends on your contract. If you planned an event that can no longer be held due to Covid-19, there may be a clause that protects you from performing because of unforeseen events which is the fault of neither party.

If your contract does not have this provision, try working with the business to postpone the event. If this is possible, consider amending the original contract to include a cancellation provision if the event still cannot take place.

If the contract does not have a cancellation provision for unforeseen events and Covid-19 has impacted your event, making it impossible or illegal to continue the event, the cancellation may be excused. Speak to an attorney to determine your rights under your contract.

Does insurance cover my event cancellation?

If you purchased cancellation coverage for your event, your policy will determine your coverage limits. Generally, cancellation insurance will cover your non-refundable expenses, (i.e. deposits), as a result of cancelling or postponing your event. Please note this insurance is supplemental and is separate from any general liability policy.

For Travelers

I do not want to travel because of coronavirus. Can I get a refund from my airline or cruise line?

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 response, you may be eligible for a refund for any flight that has been impacted by the public health emergency.

The US Department of Transportation has issued guidelines that “U.S. and foreign airlines remain obligated to provide a prompt refund to passengers for flights to, within, or from the United States when the carrier cancels the passenger’s scheduled flight or makes a significant schedule change and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the carrier.”

Contact your airline directly to process a refund. Complaints would need to be filed with the Department of Transportation – Aviation. You can read more about the guidelines here.

Contact your cruise line directly to find out what their policy is on cancellations. DCBA cannot intervene in company policies regarding refunds.

In some cases, trip cancellation insurance can protect your financial investment in a trip if you need to change your itinerary in the event of an international outbreak.

Trip cancellation insurance might help ensure you are able to make a last-minute cancellation or change your itinerary in the event of an international outbreak. Be sure to check the fine print to see if your coverage includes disease outbreaks at intended travel destinations and what any restrictions might be.

Will my credit card travel insurance cover any trip cancellations or changes from coronavirus?

It depends, the question is whether you choose to cancel a trip, or if you have no control over the decision and the choice is made for you.

Credit cards will cover a canceled trip when you meet “covered situations” which typically include:

  • Accidental bodily injury, loss of life or sickness experienced by you, a traveling companion or an immediate family member
  • Severe weather that prevents the start or continuation of a trip
  • Terrorist attack or hijacking

What is “cancel for any reason” (CFRAR) coverage?

If you are concerned that the coronavirus may affect your travel, it is recommended to purchase “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage.

Cancelling a trip out of worry or fear is not enough to be reimbursed for a canceled trip.

What are the eligibility requirements for CFAR coverage?

CFAR insurance must be purchased within 21 days (sometimes even within seven to 14) of paying for your trip.

You also cannot cancel any later than 48 hours before your departure and will only be reimbursed up to 75 percent of your prepaid, nonrefundable trip cost. States are responsible for regulating U.S. travel insurance and will vary state to state.

CFAR coverage policies are typically expensive and might add about 50 percent to the price of a basic policy.

A typical travel insurance policy does not cover a traveler’s decision to cancel a trip due to fear or worry about visiting an area affected by the coronavirus.

What about U.S. citizens returning from abroad?

The Department of Homeland Security is issuing instructions that require U.S. passengers whom have traveled through the Schengen area in Europe to return through selected airports. These airports have implemented enhanced screening procedures to ensure the safety of Americans. To view the notice of restrictions from the Department of Homeland Security, please follow the link here.

The Schengen area encompasses the following 26 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

U.S. citizens returning from China may be subject to up to 14 days of quarantine.

Additional information from the State Department can be found here.

Where can I find other tips about traveling during this emergency?

How to disinfect your home or business to protect against COVID-19

How can I disinfect my home or business from COVID-19?

The United Stated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a list, List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, of registered EPA disinfectant products that meet the criteria for use against COVID -19.

You may visit the EPA’s website to review the list and learn more information on EPA’s role regarding disinfectants.

The EPA does not advise the use of fumigation or wide-area spraying as a method to clean, disinfect, or control the spread of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises the public to wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect. CDC also recommends using EPA-registered  household products when cleaning and disinfecting for COVID-19. Additional information on how to effectively clean and disinfect surface areas, electronics, buildings or facilities may be found on CDC’s website.

Should I pay a business to disinfect my home or business from COVID-19?

Be wary of any business that claims to be certified by the United Stated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for COVID-19 clean-up, as EPA does not certify cleaning services.

Ask the cleaning service what disinfectant products they use and if the products are  EPAregistered  household products.

Additionally, visit the EPA’s website to check if the disinfectant products used by the cleaning service are EPAregistered  household products. Please remember, the EPA does not recommend the use of fumigation or wide-area spraying as a method to clean, disinfect, or control the spread of COVID-19.

More Resources

Where can I find reliable information about coronavirus?

Los Angeles County Resources:

Additional Resources:

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