LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel advises Michigan residents facing financial hardship during the pandemic may be eligible for continued rent and mortgage payment assistance, as well as deferred student loan payments.

Nessel also warns that these relief programs may motivate bad actors to think of new ways to attempt to steal personal information and money.

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“As this nation continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19 on just about every facet of life, it’s important that Michiganders are aware of federal programs available to them,” said Nessel. “With temporary halts on evictions for those eligible, mortgage payment forbearance and a continued pause on federal student loan payments, it’s important to remain on alert for scammers seeking to capitalize off of these opportunities. That is why my office wants to ensure that people remember they do not have to pay for these benefits. If you receive a call, email or text demanding that you provide personal information like your Social Security, bank account or credit card number, do not fall for it.”

The Federal Trade Commission recently provided information on updates or extensions to these federal relief programs:

Renters: The temporary stop on evictions for certain renters now runs through March 31, 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on who is eligible and the steps to take.

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Homeowners: If you’re struggling to make your federally backed mortgage payments because of the pandemic, payment forbearance may still be available, and the pause on foreclosures runs through at least March 31, 2021. The Federal Housing Finance Agency tells you how to find out if your mortgage is federally backed. Contact your mortgage servicer to find out what other help is available to you.

Student Loan Borrowers: For those federal student loans that are covered, the U.S. Department of Education has automatically paused payments through Sept. 30, 2021.

Nessel offers the following tips to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Beware of anyone who contacts you to offer financial services or rental assistance for a fee – you do not have to pay to get these benefits.
  • Don’t give your personal or financial information to anyone who contacts you – even if they claim to be a government official.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The Michigan Department of Attorney General provides online consumer protection resources to educate and protect Michigan residents. A library of consumer alerts is also available with a number of scam examples.

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