Important First Bank COVID-19 Information and Resources
For Our Customers...
- Stay up-to-date on the latest news revolving around COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer great prevention tips and updates to help you stay on top of what’s going on.
- Create an online account at firstbank.servicingdivision.com. This way you will have access to all of the tools you need to manage your mortgage at any time. This includes payment activity, payment changes, FAQs, important documents, etc.
- Scammers may take advantage of uncertain times like what we are going through right now. No one from First Bank will ask you for your personal information in an email or text message. If we reach out to you, we won't ask for confidential information such as your name, password, personal identification number (PIN) or other account information. See the Federal Trade Commission's advice for consumers to protect yourself from scams.
We're here to help!
We all hit rough patches. COVID-19 has impacted everyone differently. Some of our customers felt the impact as early as February 2020, and others are just now starting to feel the effects. Everyone’s situation is different, and we get that. If you’re struggling to pay your mortgage due to COVID-19, there may be immediate help available.
This is why, in line with all federally backed loans including FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, we are proud to offer assistance on a variety of approved COVID-19 related workout options. We will work with you to understand your unique situation, and help you determine which option is best for you. Read on below for some of our most frequently asked questions when it comes to COVID-19.
Don’t stress. Take action and contact us today or talk to a HUD-approved housing counselor for free advice on what to do next. Our team is here to help you get back on your feet.
FAQs about COVID-19 and your mortgage
I want to know more about forbearance…
+I’m having difficulty making payments to my mortgage due to the national COVID-19 emergency, what are some relief options that you’re offering?
As a servicer of loans backed by the federal government, which include FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac loans, and in accordance with provisions of the CARES Act, if customers are experiencing a financial hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic we are permitted to allow these requesting borrowers to temporarily suspend mortgage payments. This is known as a forbearance. In a nutshell, a forbearance provides an opportunity to pause mortgage payments for a set period of time. However, it’s important to point out that a forbearance is not a waiver of payments. Any payments missed will still need to be paid back at the end of the forbearance period or through a post-forbearance relief option.
+What do I need to know about forbearance?
You should know that during a forbearance, no payments are expected; however, payments will still be accepted. There will be no late charges assessed to your account, and negative credit reporting is suppressed.
Important:If you are set up on recurring ACH payments, entering a forbearance plan will automatically turn off your recurring payments. If you would like to continue to make full or partial payments through recurring ACH, you will have to re-enroll in our auto drafting program.
The purpose of a forbearance is to offer temporary relief by suspending payments for a set period of time for those impacted by COVID-19. However, it is important to understand that once the forbearance plan expires, the total amount of all outstanding monthly mortgage payments that were suspended during the forbearance period, as well as any previously delinquent amounts, will become due, unless further assistance is requested and addressed through post-forbearance options, and credit reporting will resume.
For example: Let’s say your monthly mortgage payment is $1,000, including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. If you choose to enter a 90-day forbearance plan, you won’t owe that $1,000 for the next three months. But at the end of the 90-day plan, you’ll owe $3,000 (or $1,000/month for the past 3 months) to become current again.
This can result in payment shock for some, which is why as your servicer we will remain in contact with you during your forbearance period to discuss your unique situation, including what options are available to you for paying back the missed payments at the end of your forbearance term. Depending on your loan product and eligibility status, a variety of options may be available to you for short term or long term relief. For more information, see our FAQ section below on post-forbearance relief options.
If you have an online account, you can log in to request a forbearance. One of our team members will review your request and give you a call back to discuss the terms and conditions. We want to make sure you fully understand the details of this program before signing up.
+Why am I only being offered a 90-day forbearance? I am hearing I can get one for up to a year or longer.
While it is true that under the CARES Act forbearances can be offered for up to 180 days, and extended out for another 180 days, it’s important to understand that a forbearance effectively kicks payments “down the road”. When the forbearance period ends, you’re still obligated for all the missed payments. The longer the forbearance period, the more missed payments you’ll have to repay, which means a larger sum that will become due. That can create a tremendous financial burden, which may be too much for some to bear. If not handled responsibly it could ultimately lead to default, which could result in foreclosure.
That’s why we believe the best way to manage this program is to start with a 90-day forbearance period, which provides our customers with immediate payment relief to address the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the initial 90-day relief period expiring, together we can assess your financial situation and work with you to determine which of the available post-forbearance options is best for you to help get you back on track. Depending on your loan product and eligibility status, a variety of options may be available to you for short term or long term relief. For more information, see our FAQ section below on post-forbearance relief options.
+Can I request a shorter or longer forbearance period than the standard 90-days?
Yes, you can. While it is our practice to offer forbearance in 90-day increments, if you would like to request a forbearance for a shorter or longer period, First Bank will honor the request for up to 180-days under the CARES Act, or as otherwise allowed under agency guidelines.
Update: For mortgages backed by FHA, VA, or USDA, First Bank is authorized to provide up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance, in 90-day increments, for customers who entered a COVID-19 forbearance on or before June 30, 2020. For mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, First Bank is authorized to provide up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance, in 90-day increments, for customers who entered a COVID-19 forbearance plan as of February 28, 2021. Additional terms and conditions may apply.
Remember that the purpose of a forbearance is to temporarily pause your monthly payments while you’re impacted by a hardship. Once your financial position stabilizes, we’ll want to work with you on a post-forbearance relief option that best fits your situation for mortgage relief.
+When do I need to request a forbearance by?
Based on federal guidance, the initial mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window for loans backed by FHA, VA, and USDA is currently open until September 30, 2021* for customers who wish to request an initial forbearance based on COVID-19 hardship. If you qualify for another type of special forbearance based on non-COVID-19 related hardship, such as a FEMA-declared natural disaster, different deadlines will apply. We encourage you to contact our Customer Care Center for additional information.
*This date is based on current guidance from our agency partners and will be updated as new information becomes available. The information in these FAQs is current as of the revision date at the bottom of this page.
+What can I expect during the forbearance period?
During your forbearance period, no payments are expected. There will be no late charges assessed to your account, negative credit reporting is suppressed, and you will continue to receive your monthly billing statement. We will contact you to discuss your specific situation, including what options are available to you at the end of your forbearance term. If you have any questions, during your forbearance period, please contact us. We’re here to help you.
+Can I make payments during my forbearance period?
Yes, you can make payments during your forbearance and we encourage you to do so if possible. Even if you can’t make your full monthly payment, partial payments will be accepted under forbearance plans. We will hold partial payments (payments that are less than your scheduled monthly payment) in a separate account until you pay the remainder of the payment. Upon receipt of enough funds to pay your full monthly payment, we will apply your full payment to your account, and your next payment due date will update accordingly.
It is important to remember that the forbearance plan is intended for temporary hardship, and is not intended for long-term relief. Once the forbearance plan expires, the total amount of all outstanding monthly mortgage payments that were suspended during the forbearance period, as well as any previously delinquent amounts, will become due. So if you can pay even part of your monthly obligation during the forbearance plan, we encourage you to do so, as it will reduce the total amount due at the end of your forbearance plan.
Important: If you are set up on recurring ACH payments, entering a forbearance plan will automatically turn off your recurring payments. If you would like to continue to make full or partial payments through recurring ACH, you will have to re-enroll in our auto drafting program.
+If my situation changes, can I cancel my plan before the forbearance period ends?
Yes, you can cancel your forbearance plan at any time. Should your financial situation improve prior to the end of your forbearance period, and you are able to resume making monthly payments again, we can stop your forbearance plan and work with you on your options to get you back on track. Just remember that ending your forbearance plan will also end the protections of negative credit and late charge suppression.
+How will forbearance impact my credit?
Through the duration of your forbearance plan, we will not assess any late charges and negative credit reporting will be suppressed, but only for the duration of the plan. Once your forbearance plan ends, we will resume credit reporting. Each credit bureau leverages their own algorithms to determine how to score your credit, and although negative credit reporting is suppressed during a forbearance, meaning we will not report that a payment was skipped during the forbearance plan, it is possible that a credit agency may assess your credit differently in the absence of such reporting. If you have questions on how credit bureaus measure credit scores, we encourage you to contact them directly.
+Will this impact my ability to refinance in the future?
Remember that while you’re on a forbearance plan, we will not negatively report your credit. However, it’s possible that some lenders or loan products may restrict refinancing if you’ve recently been on a forbearance plan. If you have questions, we suggest you speak with your mortgage lender or a licensed mortgage loan originator regarding your ability to refinance.
+Do I have to go on a forbearance plan or can I go straight to a relief option?
No, you do not have to go on a forbearance plan if you do not want to. If you’ve been impacted by a COVID-19 related hardship, but your financial position has stabilized, we can go right to evaluating you for relief options. However, there are a couple of important things to point out:
- A forbearance plan will provide you the protections of negative credit suppression and late charge suppression while we are evaluating you for other relief options. If you are unable to make your full monthly payments, we do encourage you to take advantage of these consumer protections the forbearance offers. If you are not on a forbearance plan and are unable to make payments, you will incur late charges and your credit will be reported accurately in line with your account status.
Some agency-sponsored COVID-19 relief options do require you to have missed payments due to a COVID-19 related hardship in order to qualify for relief. See the FAQs below on deferrals for more information.
I want to know more about post-forbearance relief options…
+What are my options for after the forbearance period?
Before the end of your forbearance period, we will work together with you to determine what will be the appropriate next steps based on your unique situation. We ask that you contact us 30-days prior to the end of your forbearance plan, which gives us time to reassess your hardship and financial status, and helps us determine your eligibility for additional relief options. Some of those options include:
- A reinstatement: This is where you make up missed payments in a lump sum to bring your account current and continue to make regular, on time payments. While that’s the quickest way to get back on track, we understand every situation is unique and not everyone will be able to do this. Rest assured that you have other options and a lump sum payment is not required unless you wish to do so.
- A repayment plan: This is where you work to bring your loan current over time by making monthly payments in excess of your contractual payment amount.
- A deferral or standalone partial claim: This is where the amount of the delinquency moves into a non-interest bearing balance, due and payable at maturity of the mortgage loan or earlier payoff. This option is not available to for all loan products. In order to qualify certain criteria must be met. See FAQ below for additional information.
- An extension of your forbearance: If your situation has not changed, or is still unstable, you can request an extension of your forbearance for a longer period of time. But remember, any payments suspended during forbearance will still need to be paid back.
- Loan modification: This is where we modify the terms of the Note to help get you current and potentially provide for a lower monthly payment going forward. In order to take advantage of this option, you’ll have to submit a full mortgage assistance application package for review.
Each of these options have their pros and cons, and may have additional eligibility and qualification requirements. That is why it is important that we stay in contact throughout your forbearance term so that we can work together to determine the right solution that’s tailored to your unique situation.
+How do I know which option is right for me?
We’re so glad you asked! Just because your forbearance is ending, doesn't mean you're on your own. We're here to help you get back on your feet. Contact us today or talk to a HUD-approved housing counselor for free advice on what to do next.
Call Us: Our Customer Ally Team is highly trained to be able to answer all your loss mitigation related questions. Our customer facing team members receive 220+ hours of training a year, including daily and weekly huddles to get the most up-to-date information when new polices and programs are released. Your Customer Ally will work with you to answer a series of questions that will help you evaluate the best option for your unique situation.
NEW! Would you rather self-service? If so, you can use our new online loss mitigation eligibility tool. If you are in the last 30 days of an approved forbearance plan, you will have the option to select your next steps online. Simply login to your secure account and you will be presented with an alert to take the next steps for your expiring forbearance plan. You will be presented with a series of questions to help evaluate you for the workout option that best fits your need. You will have the option to go back and select alternative answers if you are presented with an option you believe does not meet your expectations. And of course, if you have questions, give your Customer Ally a call.
See our “More Information” FAQs below for details on how to contact a HUD-approved housing counselor for free and other government-approved resources such as the CFPB’s forbearance assistance website.
+I’ve heard a lot in the news about payment deferrals. What is a deferral and is it an option for me?
Deferral is a program that brings your mortgage current by deferring past due payments (as well as other amounts we paid on your behalf related to the past-due monthly payments) to a non-interest-bearing balance that will become due when the loan reaches it maturity date or if the property is sold or refinanced. The remaining mortgage term, interest rate schedule, maturity date, and your monthly principal and interest payment will remain unchanged.
A deferral program may not be available for all homeowners. As a servicer of loans backed by the federal government, including FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac loans, we are contractually obligated to follow guidance set forth by the agency or investor which insures your loan. Not all agencies have deferral options available to assist today. However, we know our agency partners are hard at work to put out guidance in response to COVID-19 hardships and we anticipate additional relief options may be made available in the future. As soon as we are aware of additional relief options, we will be sure to communicate those options.
Current deferral options include:
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Loans: COVID-19 Payment Deferral, a new workout option specifically designed to help borrowers impacted by a hardship related to COVID-19 return their mortgage to a current status after up to 18 months of missed payments. The amount of delinquency moves into a non-interest bearing balance, due and payable at maturity of the mortgage loan or earlier payoff, and all other terms of the mortgage remain unchanged. In order to qualify, the following criteria must be met:
- The borrower has experienced a financial hardship resulting from COVID-19 that impacted their ability to make their monthly mortgage loan payment, which has been resolved.
- The mortgage loan must have been current or less than two months delinquent as of March 1, 2020.
- The mortgage loan must be equal to or more than one month delinquent, but less than or equal to 18 months delinquent as of the date of evaluation.
- Note: You cannot defer future payments, only those that have already been missed. Therefore, in order to be eligible for a deferral, you need to have missed payments while under a forbearance plan, or otherwise fell behind. Deferrals are only an option for borrowers whose hardship has been resolved where the borrower can resume making regular monthly payments.
Similar options offered by other agency-backed loans include:
FHA Loans: COVID-19 National Emergency Standalone Partial Claim. The amount of delinquency moves into a non-interest bearing balance, due and payable at maturity of the mortgage loan or earlier payoff. In order to qualify, the following criteria must be met:
- The borrower has experienced a financial hardship resulting from COVID-19 that impacted their ability to make their monthly mortgage loan payment, which has been resolved.
- The borrower indicates they have the ability to resume making on-time mortgage payments.
- The property is owner-occupied.
- Note: You cannot defer future payments, only those that have already been missed. Therefore, in order to be eligible for a COVID-19 Standalone Partial Claim, you need to have missed payments while under a forbearance plan. COVID-19 Standalone Partial Claims are only an option for borrowers whose hardship has been resolved where the borrower can resume making regular monthly payments.
- FHA Loans: COVID-19 National Emergency Standalone Partial Claim. The amount of delinquency moves into a non-interest bearing balance, due and payable at maturity of the mortgage loan or earlier payoff. In order to qualify, the following criteria must be met:
For borrowers with VA or USDA Loans: At this time, First Bank does not offer a deferral option for these types of loans. However, modification options may be available to you.
Your Customer Ally will remain in contact with you to determine eligibility and next steps. Please ensure that you remain in contact with your Customer Ally as it is important we speak with you about options approximately 30 days prior to your forbearance plan end date. Remember, you can contact us any time if you have questions.
+What is a Customer Ally and how do I know who mine is? What is a deferral and is it an option for me?
At First Bank, the Customer Ally Department is synonymous with the Loss Mitigation Department. Once you submit an application for loss mitigation, you will be assigned a Customer Ally, or single point of contact, to assist you through the loss mitigation process. You will receive a Customer Ally assignment letter from us that lets you know the name and direct contact information for your Ally. For the time your loan is in loss mitigation status, every time you call us, or we call you, you’ll get the same real, live person to talk to who knows you and understands your unique situation.
I want to know how to protect myself from fraud…
+How do I avoid COVID-19 scams?
Unfortunately, scammers are out there in times like this. What you should know is that we will never ever ask you for your personal information in an email or text message. If we reach out to you, we won’t ask for confidential information, such as your password, personal identification number (PIN) or other account information. We encourage you to be aware of loss mitigation and foreclosure rescue scams. If you see or hear something that doesn’t seem right, please contact us directly to inquire.
+What should I do if I’m unsure if an inquiry is legitimate from my mortgage servicer?
If you receive a suspicious call, text message, email, or mailing claiming to be from First Bank, and you have any doubt about the legitimacy of the contact, please hang up immediately and call the Customer Care number on your Borrower Portal page, or the number noted on your monthly statement.
+What can I do to protect myself from fraud?
Never give out personal information, debit or credit card numbers, or wire money or send gift cards as a result of an unexpected or unsolicited call if you cannot validate the caller’s authenticity. First Bank provides many options for payment; be suspicious if the caller is REQUIRING funds to be sent in non-traditional payment methods. Never pay a third party for help with loss mitigation or home retention assistance. Help with home retention options, including housing counseling, is FREE. Should you become suspicious, ask the caller for details about his or her name, phone number, company, etc. Your questions may scare them away. If the conversation continues, document what they tell you, including the date and time you speak with them, caller ID number and anything else that may aid in a possible investigation. Know how to access your monthly bill easily to verify our contact information. You can access your account online through your Borrower Portal at any time or call our Customer Care number for any questions you may have.
+What red flags should I look out for to try to identify a mortgage servicing-related scam?
Scammers may use some of the following techniques to attempt to obtain funds or personal information from you. Safeguard yourself against potential scams by being aware of the following techniques:
- Pressure to send money as fast as possible/by a set deadline
- Threatened with law enforcement action
- Asked to send funds through wire transfer services
- Told to purchase gift cards and provide codes as a form of payment
- Being instructed to not trust First Bank
- The caller exhibits irritation, unease, or anger when you question their authority. Notice if their emotion intensifies when you ask to speak with their manager, for their phone number, or to call back later
I want to know about foreclosure protections…
Foreclosure Moratorium: Update
Some investors and state and local jurisdictions have begun to suspend or stop foreclosure sales during this pandemic. Different investors and jurisdictions may have different guidelines. At First Bank, we are committed to servicing loans in compliance with each investor’s unique guidelines and in accordance with state and local laws. Our leadership will continue to be in constant communication with our investors and jurisdictions and will update team members immediately if the investor guidelines change. Current guidance is as follows:
FHA, USDA, & VA, Fannie Mae (FNMA) & Freddie Mac (FHLMC)
All FHA, USDA and VA Foreclosure referrals, Foreclosure sales & evictions are currently halted through July 31, 2021, excluding vacant or abandoned properties. All Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Foreclosure referrals, Foreclosure sales & evictions are currently halted through July 31, 2021, excluding vacant or abandoned properties. If the account is in Foreclosure, but a sale date is not scheduled, we are not scheduling one at this time.
Some state and local jurisdictions have set forth their own moratorium timelines that are longer than the current moratorium timeline outlined by the agencies above. First Bank will comply with all applicable state and local foreclosure moratoriums.
I want to know where I can get more information…
Customer Service Information:
While we hope COVID-19 doesn’t affect you, please be aware that our Customer Care team is standing by ready to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have. Please feel free to contact us at (855) 673-3368. You can also visit our HELP/FAQ page located on firstbank.servicingdivision.com under the “HELP” menu.
+Do you have Customer Care agents that speak languages other than English?
We do! First Bank has on-demand Interactive Voice Response (IVR) available over the phone en español, and a full Customer Care Team of Spanish-speaking members. And for those who have a preference outside of English or Spanish, we happily offer verbal translations in more than 95 languages. De nada! (That’s Spanish for, “No Problem!”) We also make and accept calls through the federal Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) to accommodate customers with hearing or speech disabilities.
+What other resources can you suggest for assistance?
Need Help? To find a HUD-approved housing counselor for free advice on what do to do next, call 1-800-569-4287 or visit www.cfpb.gov/housing for more information about forbearance.
Remember, borrowers should avoid anyone who seeks a fee in exchange for obtaining forbearance assistance. Help with home retention options, including housing counseling, is FREE.
+Where can I find information about the Homeowner Assistance Fund?
The Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) is a new federal program authorized by The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The purpose of the HAF is to help homeowners experiencing a financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 catch up on mortgage and utility bills and pay other housing costs. Funds from the HAF may be used for assistance with mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, utility payments, and other specified purposes. Each state is responsible for requesting and disbursing funds under their own HAF programs. As state programs become available, they will be listed on the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) website. We are happy to coordinate with the State Housing Finance Agencies on getting our customers back on track.
For Our Team Members and Locations…
As this pandemic plays out, we assure you that the health and safety of our team members is of top priority. Rest assured, we have processes and policies in place to ensure our work environments are as safe and clean as possible as the virus continues to impact our communities. We have:
- Implemented temperature checks, mask requirements, and increased cleaning regiments in all our office locations.
- Implemented continual education of our team members regarding the importance of proper hygiene. We have also increased stocks and availability of soap, sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer in all of our locations.
- Reminded team members that those who are ill must not come to work. All team members must be symptom-free for at least 24 hours before returning to work. If a team member exhibits symptoms of the flu while at work, they will be required to go home.
As the situation continues to be fluid, we will do our best to keep you up to date during these unique circumstances. As a nation focused on recovery, we know there will be continued changes at the federal, state, and local level as we work towards solutions for our consumers. At First Bank, we consistently monitor for these updates.
On behalf of everyone at First Bank, we are sending our heartfelt thoughts to you and your loved ones and best wishes for brighter days ahead. As always, we will continue to be there for you and your loved ones during this unsettling time.
LAST UPDATED JULY 13, 2021