New Jersey has strong laws in place to protect consumers against unfair and deceptive practices. When a disaster strikes, some additional consumer protections and resources are available—and other protections that always apply deserve attention because so many people will need them. This tip sheet covers several of these areas.
Home Repair Contractors
The Office of the Insurance Ombudsman
NJ Department of Banking and Insurance
20 West State Street
PO Box 472
Trenton NJ 08625-0472
E-mail: [email protected]
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
- If your loan is owned by Fannie Mae—which may be the case even though you make your mortgage payments to another company that acts as the servicer:
- The servicer may temporarily suspend or reduce mortgage payments for up to 90 days if your income is affected by the disaster under Fannie Mae’s Special Relief Measures policy—without having to obtain approval from Fannie Mae.
- In more severe cases, the servicer may grant relief for a borrower impacted by the disaster while it attempts to establish Quality Right Party Contact (QRPC) and determine an appropriate course of action. Servicers must consult with Fannie Mae before granting disaster-related relief that exceeds 90 days. Generally, after establishing QRPC, forbearance may be granted up to six months from the date of the first reduced or suspended payment. Fannie Mae’s written approval is required for longer periods.
- To find out if Fannie Mae owns your loan, visit KnowYourOptions.com
- Freddie Mac has announced similar relief for mortgage loans that it owns:Freddie Mac strongly encourages servicers to help affected borrowers with Freddie Mac-owned loans by:
Suspending foreclosure and eviction proceedings for up to 12 months;Waiving assessments of penalties or late fees against borrowers with disaster-damaged homes; and
Not reporting forbearance or delinquencies caused by the disaster to the nation's credit bureaus.
For more information on mortgage payment relief, homeowners should contact their mortgage servicer—the company to which they send their monthly mortgage payment – or call Freddie Mac at 800-FREDDIE. Click here to read Freddie Mac's general Disaster Relief Policies.
- To find out if Freddie Mac owns your loan, see How to Get Help with Your Mortgage.
- Your mortgage servicer is the bank or other company that you make your payments to each month. Whether or not Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns your loan, your servicer may offer temporary assistance with payments. Some mortgage servicers have contact numbers for borrowers affected by the storm, including:
Wells Fargo: 800-869-3557, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or the Disaster Assistance hotline at 888-818-9147 or 515-213-7700
JPMorgan Chase: 888-356-0023 -- choose option 1 for mortgage
Bank of America: Hotline for customers impacted by the storm: 855-729-1764
PNC Bank: 800-822-5626
Credit Card and Other Bank Fees
Many banks are waiving and/or refunding certain fees and charges, including late fees, for New Jersey customers. Some, including Citibank and Bank of America, have announced that they are waiving fees for early CD withdrawals for recovery use.
Several major banks have announced that they are extending these protections through the close of business on November 7, 2012.
Check your bank’s website for current details and contact information.
Be careful about overdraft fee waivers. Banks that have announced waivers may decide to impose their high fees for overdrafts that have not been covered by the end of the waiver period.
Governor’s Press Release on Price Gouging—www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases12/pr20121030a.html
NJ Division of Consumer Affairs tips for consumers on How To Avoid Disaster-Related Scams
This information last reviewed: Mar 8, 2016