Struggling to pay your mortgage? Credible CEO on 3 tips homeowners need to know

Tips for homeowners amid coronavirus pandemic

Credible founder and CEO Stephen Dash gives tips for struggling homeowners and advice on how to refinance during the coronavirus pandemic.

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As the coronavirus pandemic cuts deep into Americans’ finances, millions of homeowners throughout the country are struggling to pay — or skipping entirely — their mortgage payments.

If you’re among those worried about making the necessary payments, there are several options you should be aware of, according to Credible CEO Stephen Dash.

“Don’t panic,” Dash told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo during an interview on Thursday. “People likely have options if they’re struggling to make their mortgage repayments.”

Enroll in temporary forbearance 

Under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress at the end of March, homeowners with a federally backed home loan can skip or delay mortgage payments for up to six months. Lawmakers have cautioned that forbearance is not forgiveness: At some point, homeowners will owe the payments they chose to temporarily suspend.


More than 4.1 million homeowners are temporarily skipping their mortgage payments, although the number of people needing assistance is beginning to slow, according to a weekly survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

If homeowners do not have a federal loan, Dash advised them to speak with their private loan servicer.

“Oftentimes, they’ll want to work with you rather than put you into forbearance.”

Avoid foreclosure 

There are several ways to avoid foreclosure, according to Dash. he suggested that homeowners consider refinancing. On Thursday, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan plunged to 3.15 percent, a historic low.


Homeowners can also work on a repayment plan or work through loan modifications, like changing the terms of the loans or reducing monthly payments, he said.

Prepare what happens when you come out of financial hardship 

Homeowners need to be prepared for what happens when the financial hardship ends, Dash said. If they chose to skip mortgage payments, for instance, they should speak with their lender about how to repay that money.

There are several options for homeowners to compensate for the missed payments — but they will not be required to pay everything back all at once in what’s known as a “balloon payment,” according to mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Frequently, mortgage lenders will tack on the balance that homeowners did not pay during the forbearance period onto the end of the loan.

Credible is majority-owned by FOX Business' parent company, Fox Corporation. 


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3 ways your Social Security checks could be reduced by COVID-19

Labor secretary on coronavirus recovery: US has opportunity to return ‘millions’ of jobs in next few weeks

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia on jobless claims numbers, extending the Payroll Protection Program and reopening the US amid coronavirus.

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Tens of millions of Americans have been laid off or furloughed, investors have watched their portfolios take a tumble, and older workers have been forced to adjust their retirement plans. The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on society in many ways: not just from a health perspective, but financially as well.

Social Security recipients are at risk, too, particularly those who are still working and will be claiming benefits in the relatively near future. Many retirees head into their senior years expecting Social Security to help them make ends meet, but there are a few ways COVID-19 could reduce your future monthly checks.


1. There could be widespread benefit cuts

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is currently experiencing a cash shortage because the money that's coming in from payroll taxes isn't enough to cover the amount paid out in benefits. To avoid making cuts right now, the SSA has been dipping into its two trust funds to cover the deficit.

But those funds are expected to run dry by 2034, according to the SSA Board of Trustees' latest estimates. At that point, payroll taxes will only cover around 76% of projected benefits. Crucially, though, these estimates do not account for the effect COVID-19 could have on the trust funds.


The coronavirus could make matters worse by accelerating the speed at which the trust funds are depleted. Because so many people are out of work right now (and not generating payroll taxes), the SSA has to take more from the trust funds, so those funds could run dry even sooner than expected. In fact, they could potentially be depleted as soon as 2028, a recent study from the Bipartisan Policy Center found. So if you're nearing retirement age, you may not be able to rely on Social Security as much as you thought.

2. Your work history could result in smaller checks

Your benefit amount is calculated based on your income throughout your career. If you lose your job as a result of the pandemic and remain unemployed for a significant amount of time, that will affect your overall income and could also reduce your benefit amount.

Especially if you're in the midst of your peak earning years, losing your income now could have a significant effect on your future monthly checks. Furthermore, if you end up taking a lower-paying job just to pay the bills, that could also reduce your checks from what you would get had you been steadily employed and earning a higher income.


3. Early retirement could reduce your benefits

If you lose your job later in life and can't find another one, you may be forced to retire earlier than you'd planned. Not only can this affect how much you're able to save for retirement, but it can also reduce how much you're entitled to receive in Social Security benefits.

To calculate your benefit amount, the SSA takes an average of your income during the 35 highest-earning years of your career. If you haven't worked a full 35 years, you'll have zeros added to your equation to account for the time you weren't working. Depending on just how early you retire, working fewer than 35 years could substantially reduce your monthly checks.


Even if you have worked at least 35 years, retiring early could still potentially reduce your benefits because you're missing out on the chance to include some of your higher-earning years in your income average. Chances are you're earning more now than you were earlier, so if you were to work longer now, you could replace some of those lower-income years with more recent higher-income years. That would increase your earnings average as well as your benefit amount. When you retire early, though, you miss that opportunity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, and it could affect your retirement. By understanding how the crisis could reduce your future Social Security benefits, you can plan ahead and ensure you're as prepared as possible.


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Hackers could be reading your WhatsApp chats – but huge new update will stop them

WHATSAPP is reportedly planning a huge new update that will make its two billion users even more secure.

Until this update is available, your messages probably aren't as secure as you might think.

However, WABetaInfo reported that too major changes are being trialled in the beta version of the app and may be rolled out soon.

The first change will apparently enable "the encryption for your chat history hosted on iCloud".

This is good news for iPhone users who may not realise that when their WhatsApp chats back up to iCloud they're not protected by WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption.

The fact that this doesn't already happen is a vulnerability that has been exposed before.

Currently, if you back up an iPhone with WhatsApp chats stored on an iCloud the chats become decrypted without a password being required on WhatsApp.

This could enable cybercriminals who have hacked an iCloud to then see those chats.

The second new feature that could be coming soon has also been long awaited.

WhatsApp is said to be working on a personal QR code that can load your WhatsApp contact details into another phone.

This reportedly aims to be available for both iOS and Android users and will make saving contacts much easier.

Instead of sharing phone numbers, users could share and also revoke specific codes.

This would go someone in severing WhatsApp's connection to phone numbers and specific smartphones.

There's no need to get excited just yet though as we don't know when or if these features will be rolled out in the mainstream.

WhatsApp – a quick history

Here's what you need to know…

  • WhatsApp was created in 2009 by computer programmers Brian Acton and Jan Koum – former employees of Yahoo
  • It's one of the most popular messaging services in the world
  • Koum came up with the name WhatsApp because it sounded like "what's up"
  • After a number of tweaks the app was released with a messaging component in June 2009, with 250,000 active users
  • It was originally free but switched to a paid service to avoid growing too fast. Then in 2016, it became free again for all users
  • Facebook bought WhatsApp Inc in February 2014 for $19.3billion (£14.64bn)
  • The app is particularly popular because all messages are encrypted during transit, shutting out snoopers
  • WhatsApp has over 2billion users globally

In other news, Netflix is going to start automatically cancelling "inactive" accounts – even if you're still paying for it.

Apple's long-rumoured "smart spectacles" are expected to cost around $499/£410 when they launch in March 2021, insiders claim.

And, Instagram will now delete your videos for playing music ‘you don’t hold copyright for’.

Do you update your apps regularly? Let us know in the comments…

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]

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Think your coronavirus stimulus check is the wrong amount? Here’s what to do

What will Congress possibly include in new stimulus package?

FOX Business’ Charlie Gasparino says Congress and the White House are thinking about a new stimulus package that could exceed $1 trillion.

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Over the course of the past month, the federal government has distributed stimulus checks to 130 million Americans in hopes of blunting the economic pain triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The CARES Act, signed into law at the end of March, included one-time payments of $1,200 for individuals who earn less than $75,000 annually ($2,400 checks for couples who earn less than $150,0000) and $500 for every child under the age of 17. The payments are tapered for higher-earners and phase out completely for individuals who earn more than $99,000.


Since the payments started being distributed, however, some recipients have reported receiving the incorrect amount.

Here’s what to do if that happens to you:

If you received too little: 

Some Americans have reported receiving a $1,200 check, but not the additional $500 per child payment. Unfortunately, the IRS has said those individuals may not receive the full payment allotted to them until next year, when they file their 2020 tax return.

“If you did not receive the full amount to which you believe you are entitled, you will be able to claim the additional amount when you file your 2020 tax return,” the IRS said in updated guidance. “This is particularly important for individuals who may be entitled to the additional $500 per qualifying child dependent payments.”


If you think your check is too small and it’s not related to the child payments, you will receive a confirmation letter via mail within 15 days of getting the cash. The letter will explain the amount of your stimulus check and what to do if you want to report an issue.

If you received too much: 

In some instances, people have reported receiving too much money, like for a child who will turn 17 this year and is no longer eligible for the $500 payment, or if you’re slated to earn more money in 2020 than in the year the IRS based its calculation on.

If that’s the case, you’re in luck: The agency has said you will not have to pay the money back.

“There is no provision in the law requiring repayment of a payment,” the agency said. “You won’t be required to repay any payment when filing your 2020 tax return even if your qualifying child turns 17 in 2020 or your adjusted gross income increases in 2020″ above the thresholds for the stimulus check.


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