JACKSONVILLE, Fla — It is being called the new normal, social distancing, stay at home orders, with businesses shuttered and unemployment high. It is all directly related to COVID-19.
Now the bills are coming due, adding to an already stressful situation for many Americans.
"Now is the time to contact your creditors," said Ron Allen.
Allen, a certified financial planner who gives financial counseling as clergy said if your bills are coming due, your creditors are ready to help.
"The first step is to be proactive," he said, "you can't get help unless they know it."
He said, for now, you have to create a list of priorities based on need, not wants.
"Make a list of your creditors and start working your way down through it," Allen said.
He runs a non profit ministry at the beach and said he too has been hit by the economic reaction to the pandemic.
"It is a challenge for everybody," he said.
Vystar is a Jacksonville based credit union and it is being proactive with its members.
"A couple of weeks ago, we made the decision to defer all loan payments, so none of our members owe us payments during April or May," Brian Wolfburg said.
Wolfburg is CEO and said their goal is to ease the stress on families.
"We did that so people don't have to worry," he said.
He said it was offered to consumers and to businesses as well. Wolfburg said Vystar also offered forbearance on the mortgage side.
Vystar has 710,000 members and its two-month deferment applies to the 400,000 loans to give you a picture of the decision.
What about utilities? The Jacksonville Electric Authority is his largest service provider in the area and it is being flexible with its customers.
"JEA has suspended disconnections and effective today, will be waiving late fees going forward. If you are a residential or small business customer of JEA and are struggling to pay your bills, JEA will work with you on payment plans and/or payment arrangements once this pandemic is over and you are back on your feet. Please contact us at 904-665-6000 or visit jea.com for more information."
Here's what actions Comcast has taken to assist customers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with additional materials attached:
- Internet Essentials – Internet Essentials is our low-cost in-home Internet service for qualified low-income households. The normal price is $9.95 a month. Due to the pandemic, new customers that sign up and qualify for the service will get the first two months for free. We have also increased the internet speed for current and new customers to support increased usage from people working and learning from home because of social distancing and shelter in place orders. For more information and to apply, visit https://www.internetessentials.com/
- Xfinity WiFi Free for Everyone: Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country, including more than 200,000 in Florida, will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers.
- Pausing Our Data Plan: With so many people working and educating from home, we want our customers to access the internet without thinking about data plans. While the majority of our customers do not come close to using 1TB of data in a month, we are pausing our data plans for 60 days giving all customers Unlimited data for no additional charge.
- No Disconnects or Late Fees: We will not disconnect a customer’s internet service or assess late fees if they contact us and let us know that they can’t pay their bills during this period. Our care teams will be available to offer flexible payment options and can help find other solutions.
- Free Content – We are offering additional free content for X1 and Xfinity Flex customers to enjoy as many are stuck inside. The attached release has more details about what is available.