COVID-19 Consumer Information and Resources

On March 4, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. In order to protect California consumers during this time, Attorney General Rob Bonta has made the following tips and resources available.

Coronavirus Scams

Emergency situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic create opportunities for fraudsters to take advantage of vulnerable populations. The Attorney General urges consumers to be aware of scams, including these common ones:

Fake COVID-19 Tests and Testing Sites: When the demand for COVID-19 tests are high, don't fall for a fake test or a fake testing site. To find an in-person testing site that is authorized to perform COVID-19 testing, use the test site search tool provided by the California Department of Public Health or the search tool provided by your county's local public health department. You may also check with local medical groups to see if they offer testing services within their facility. When buying at-home COVID-19 tests, only buy from reputable sellers. To help ensure that a seller is legitimate, look at the seller's online reviews, and do an online search of the seller's name plus the words "scam," "complaint," or "fraud." Additionally, if you are buying a test for at-home use, you can review the Food & Drug Administration's lists of authorized antigen tests and molecular diagnostic tests. When purchasing an at-home test online, protect your purchase by paying with your credit card. If you are charged for an item you did not receive, either because the item was not delivered or what you received is not as advertised, contact your credit card company and dispute the charge. Anyone who has been the victim of a fake test or fake testing site, should immediately file a complaint at https://oag.ca.gov/report.

Coronavirus Vaccine Scams: COVID-19 vaccines are being made available to the public free of charge. Because the vaccines are available for free, there is no legitimate way to pay to receive a vaccine sooner. Do not believe anyone who requests payment in exchange for the vaccine or for an earlier appointment date. Do not share your Social Security number, credit card number, bank account number, or immigration status to get the COVID-19 vaccine. No one should be turned away from receiving a vaccine for refusing to provide such information. Once vaccinated, do not share your vaccine card information. To learn more about the vaccines, your eligibility to receive the vaccines, or how to schedule an appointment to receive a vaccine, visit https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/.

Coronavirus “Cures" and Snake Oil Sales: Additionally, consumers should beware of unknown persons trying to sell products or services, online or over the phone, that claim to treat or cure COVID-19. There is currently no medication that cures COVID-19 and you should consult with medical professionals regarding any treatments. Be sure to follow reliable sources regarding updates. Anyone who has been the victim of a snake oil scam or who otherwise has information about products that are falsely touted as coronavirus treatments, tests, or cures should immediately file a complaint at https://oag.ca.gov/report.

Illegal Telemarketers Using Coronavirus as Part of Their Scams: Hang up on telemarketers or robocallers referencing coronavirus to perpetrate scams to steal money or personal information. Do not engage with telemarketers who offer COVID-19 treatments or cures, opportunities to work at home, placement on waiting lists for COVID-19 testing, or other similar scams. Many long-standing scams are now also being adapted to take advantage of fears over coronavirus, such as robocalls related to air duct cleaning or health insurance. Scammers also often make these claims by text message; do not click on these links or give personal information to these scammers.

Unsolicited Emails Referencing Coronavirus: As with telemarketing, you should be extremely wary of any unsolicited email providing information about coronavirus, even ones that claim to be from reputable organizations. These are likely to be scams or "phishing" attempts to get you to provide personal information or to infect your device with software viruses. If you accidentally open an email, delete the email and do not click on any links or otherwise engage with the sender.

Scams Related to Government Payments: In March 2021, the federal government passed legislation that provides a third “stimulus” payment. For most eligible taxpayers, nothing needs to be done to receive your payment. Most individuals will receive $1,400 per adult and $1,400 for each child, although there are phase-outs at higher income levels. For most, the stimulus payments will automatically go into their bank account by direct deposit. Others may receive payment by paper check or debit card. You can see images of both the debit card and mailer on the US Department of Treasury website. You can also check on the status of your stimulus payment (also known as an “economic impact” payment) at https://https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.

Don’t be fooled by scammers. Remember that no one from the government will ask for your personal information by phone, email, or text. Do not give out any of the following: your Social Security number, credit card number, bank account number, or other personal information. Anyone who asks for such information is a scammer. Additionally, don’t be fooled by scammers who claim that you were overpaid and that you must send them money back by cash, gift card, or any other form of payment.

Most individuals received the first stimulus payment in 2020 and the second stimulus payment in late 2020 or early 2021. If you did not receive one of these stimulus payments and believe you are eligible, the IRS states you can claim missing payments when you file your taxes. You can check the IRS website for updates about stimulus payments.

Recent Consumer Alerts and Updates:

Charities

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in bogus charities looking to capitalize on people's desire to help. Attorney General Bonta reminds Californians to do their research before making charitable donations to any nonprofit organizations.

Check the Organization's Registration Status: Charities operating in California and telemarketers soliciting donations in California are required to register with the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts. They are also required to file annual financial reports. Confirm that the charity is registered and up-to-date with their financial reporting by searching the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts at www.oag.ca.gov/charities. You can also verify the tax exempt status of a charity by researching the IRS website and can check to see whether the charity's tax exemption has been revoked by the California Franchise Tax Board.

Give to Organizations You Trust: Do your research before giving. Review the charity's purpose and its financial records, available on the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts, and find out how it spends donations. How much is spent directly on the charitable cause? How much goes to overhead and employee compensation? Research charities in your community and support those charities that make a positive impact.

Don't be Pressured by Telemarketers and Ask Questions Before Donating: If you receive a call from a telemarketer, ask for the name of the fundraising organization, whether it is registered with the Attorney General's Office, the name of the charity benefitting from the solicitation, how much of your donation will go to charity and how much to the telemarketer, and the direct telephone number of the charity. If the telemarketer tells you the donation is for your local animal shelter, hospital, school, police department, firefighter or other public safety agency, check directly with the benefitting organization to confirm that they authorized the solicitation and will actually benefit from your donation. Don't fall for pressure tactics or threats. Remember you have the right to reject the donation appeal and if you feel pressured or threatened, just hang up.

Be Cautious of "Look-Alike" Websites: These fraudulent websites may look like the websites of organizations you trust, but will have a slightly different web address (URL). Similar looking URLs are sometimes purchased to lure in would-be donors. These sites may ask for personal information or install harmful material onto your device.

Watch Out for Similar-Sounding Names and Other Deceptive Tactics: Some organizations use names that closely resemble those of well-established charitable organizations to mislead donors. Be skeptical if someone thanks you for a pledge you never made. Check your records. Remember: current registration status with the Attorney General's Office does not mean the Attorney General endorses or has approved the activities of the organization.

Be Wary of Social Network and Crowdfunding Websites: If you are planning to donate through a social network solicitation or through a crowdsourcing website, such as GoFundMe, find out what percentage is going to the charity, whether you will be charged a fee, or if a percentage of your donation will be paid to the platform website.

Protect Your Identity: Never give your Social Security number or other personal information in response to a charitable solicitation. Never give out credit card information to an organization unfamiliar to you. Some organizations sell or rent their donor lists to other organizations, including organizations that are not charities. Look at the charity's privacy policy and learn with who the charity might share your information before you provide it.

You can find more information on our donation tips webpage.

Charities Fact Sheets:

Recent Charities and Donations Updates:

Privacy and Security Tips for Families

As most of the nation adjusts to mandatory stay-at-home orders, individuals are spending more time than ever on their devices and conducting even more of their lives online. The increased time we spend online can also open us up to cybercriminals, including some that try to take advantage of fears raised by the COVID-19 public health emergency. There are steps we can take to reduce our risk of falling prey to scammers, hackers, and identity thieves.

Avoid Email Scams: The most common coronavirus scam is a phishing email. Phishing emails are emails that appear to be legitimate and ask for personal information, such as your bank account, Social Security number, or your work log-in credentials. Recent phishing emails appear to be coming from fraudsters claiming to be the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization, sometimes suggesting that a vaccine or a cure for COVID-19 is available. Also, watch out for phishing emails that claim to be from charities seeking contributions. Remember that these emails may carry malware that can infect your device and steal your information. Do not click on a link or open an attachment in an email that you were not expecting or that looks suspicious. Furthermore, do not reveal personal or financial information in an email. If you think the email may be legitimate, contact the company to verify it, using contact information from another source, not from the email itself.

Protect Your Virtual Meetings: You can enable the privacy and security settings of your virtual meeting and conference software to avoid interruptions. For example:

  • Always keep your meeting ID private and send it directly to participants. Do not post it publicly. Tell other participants not to post screenshots on social media, especially while a videoconference is in progress.
  • If you're the host, you can protect the meeting with a password.
  • Turn off settings that may default to save chats or track whether you are paying attention.
  • On some platforms, other settings provide additional protection, such as by: allowing the host to be the only one to share their screen; using a waiting room to screen participants; and locking the meeting when all participants have joined.

Protect Your Accounts: Now is a good time to secure your most sensitive accounts from hackers. The basic username-and-password combination is not enough for accounts that contain information we want to protect, such as your bank accounts, social media accounts, and personal email. One way to secure them is to use "multi-factor authentication" or "two-step verification." For example, add a second layer of protection, such as requiring the account to send a code to your cell phone any time you want to login. Check with your bank, email provider and social media company for information on how to set up stronger authentication.

Protect Your Home Network: You and your family will be safer online if you secure your home network from outside hackers. Keep all internet-connected devices up to date and make sure they have the latest operating system, browsers, and security software. You should also secure your wireless router to protect your network against hackers. You can do this by changing the name of the router and the preset passphrase. If you have questions, contact your internet service provider for assistance.

Protect Your Children Online: While parents establish and adjust to new family routines and working situations, children at home are likely to be more connected than ever. Resources are available to help parents set boundaries and guide their children towards becoming good digital citizens. Information on how to protect children while they are online is available on the Attorney General's website here. Additionally, consumers can view the Federal Trade Commission's online guide to talking with kids about being online here.

Recent Data Privacy Updates:

Protection of COVID-19 Stimulus Payments from Garnishment and Seizure

On April 23, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an executive order protecting COVID-19 stimulus payments from garnishment, attachment, levy, execution, setoff, or lien. This includes the federal Economic Impact Payments made under the March 2020 CARES Act and the second-round of stimulus legislation passed in December 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021.

This means that no bank or any other debt collector that you may owe money to is allowed to take your federal Economic Impact Payments. If a bank or debt collector has already taken your Economic Impact Payments, under the Governor's executive order, they must refund you the money with no further action on your part. If you believe you are a victim of a violation of this executive order, please file a complaint with our office online at https://oag.ca.gov/report.

Information on the latest Economic Impact Payments is available on the IRS's website. Some people will receive their Economic Impact Payment by direct deposit. Others will receive it in the mail in the form of a paper check or a debit card. People should watch their mail closely during the month of January 2021.

Recent Protection of CARES Act Updates:

Student Loans

Many Californians are struggling to afford their student loan payments during the COVID-19 emergency. The federal government has taken various actions that may assist you. These protections were recently extended and are now set to expire on August 31, 2022. Note that these actions apply ONLY to your federally held student loans. This includes Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education. It does not include privately owned FFEL loans, Perkins loans held by institutions such as universities, or other private loans. Contact your student-loan servicer to get more information, or log on to your online account at studentaid.gov.

Interest Waiver: All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0%, retroactive to March 13, 2020, and continuing through August 1, 2022.

Forbearance - A Temporary Pause on Your Payments: All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their payments suspended through August 31, 2022. Any auto debit payments made between March 13, 2020 and August 31, 2022 can be refunded to you. You will need to contact your loan servicer to request that your payment be refunded. Unless these federal protections are extended, your payments will start again in September 2022.

Because of the interest waiver, your balance will not grow while your loans are in forbearance. While your payments are suspended, these months WILL count toward your monthly payments for purposes of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), income-driven repayment (IDR) plan forgiveness, and other types of loan forgiveness, so long as you continue to meet the other requirements for these programs.

As the forbearance period comes to an end on August 31, 2022, if you expect that you may have difficulty making your payments, visit studentaid.gov or speak with your student-loan servicer about your options, including income-driven repayment programs. Payments under income-driven plans may be as low as $0 per month, and enrolling in an income-driven plan is typically more advantageous than stopping payments through a forbearance or deferment. If you are interested in income-driven repayment, you will have to apply and can do so online at studentaid.gov.

If you are already enrolled in an income-based repayment plan, you should carefully monitor your e-mail and regular mail for a notice from your loan servicer advising when you need to recertify your income-driven repayment plan. Remember you can recertify at any time - if your income has gone down, recertification may reduce your monthly payment.

If Your Federally Held Student Loans are Already in Default: The U.S. Department of Education has halted voluntary and involuntary collections on federally held student loans. This includes the seizure of tax refunds and wage garnishment during the crisis. This policy was first announced on March 25, 2020 but is retroactive to March 13, 2020. That means the U.S. Department of Education will return any amounts withheld between March 13 and March 25. The suspension of collections will last until August 31, 2022. Starting September 1, 2022, collection on your federal loans may resume.

Privately Owned FFEL Loans, Perkins Loans, or Other Private Loans: If you hold one of these types of loans, the above protections do not apply to your loans. However, many student loan servicers have voluntarily extended some protections and assistance to student loan borrowers during this time. For more information, go to the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation to see which servicers are participating and what protections apply. Contact your loan servicer to explore your options.

Beware of Student Loan Related Scams: Beware of scammers contacting you requesting a fee to suspend your student loan payments. The federal government will not ask for a fee to suspend your student loan payments, and the suspension of your federally held loans will be automatic. If a scammer contacts you, report them to our Office. Be aware of these warning signs to help you avoid student debt relief scams.

If you need additional information, the following websites may assist you: the U.S. Department of Education’s coronavirus website, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website regarding coronavirus and student loans.

Recent Student Loan Updates:

Other Financial Resources

Unemployment Insurance: If you lose your job or have your hours reduced due to COVID-19-related reasons, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Visit the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) website for additional information about unemployment benefits, and to file a claim.

Health Insurance: If you lose your health insurance as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible to sign up for low-cost or no-cost health insurance coverage under Covered California. You can find more information on Covered California’s website.

Other Financial Support: Information about California’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can be found at https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/calfresh.

Credit Reports: You may be worried about how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting your credit report. For more information go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on how to protect your credit during the pandemic.

Financial Tips: It can feel overwhelming to manage your finances in normal times, let alone during the COVID-19 crisis. A list of helpful tips are available from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on how to manage your debt.

Tenants

The Attorney General recognizes that many families across the state are still facing difficulty affording rent as the result of layoffs, reduced working hours, and other impacts of COVID-19-related economic shock.

Many tenants have protections from high rent increases and some types of evictions, as discussed below. However, the protections from the eviction moratoriums that were in place because of the pandemic have largely expired. Beginning April 1, 2022, tenants should make every effort to pay their rent in full in order to avoid eviction. This is true even if you have applied for government rental assistance for rent you owe for earlier months. If you know you cannot afford your rent, or if you are being threatened with eviction, you should seek legal advice right away. To find a legal aid office near where you live, please visit www.LawHelpCA.org.

Tenant Protections Related to COVID-19:

After April 1, 2022, tenants will have limited protections related to COVID-19, which are described below. Even if you think these protections apply to you, if you receive an eviction lawsuit, don't ignore it! It is very important that you respond to the eviction case immediately. You may seek free legal help from a legal aid office near you (www.LawHelpCA.org).

  • If you owe rent that was due after March 31, 2022, your landlord can file an eviction case against you. You should pay this rent immediately if you get a "three-day notice to pay rent or quit." Get help from your local community center or legal aid office (www.LawHelpCA.org) if you cannot pay.
  • If you owe rent that was due between October 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022, and if you applied for rental assistance before March 31, 2022, your landlord should not be able to file an eviction case against you until July 1, 2022. Notify your landlord in writing (email, text, or letter) that you have applied for rental assistance.
    • Your landlord can file an eviction case against if you did not apply for rental assistance by March 31, 2022 or if your application was denied.
  • If, for whatever reason, you are involved in an eviction case about rent that accumulated because of COVID-19 financial hardship and you are approved for rental assistance, you have the right to ask the court to pause your eviction case while waiting for the rent to be paid. This can prevent you from being evicted, even if the court has already determined that your landlord won the case.
    • If the government rental assistance does not cover all the rent that you owe, you will need to make up the difference and pay it to your landlord. Once the landlord receives all the rent money that you owe, you have the right to ask the court to dismiss the eviction case so that you can remain in your home.
  • If you owe rent that was due between March 1 and August 31, 2020, and if you submitted this declaration to your landlord, your landlord should not be able to evict you for that unpaid rent. The declaration requires you to confirm that you can't pay your full rent because of COVID-19. If you never sent this declaration to your landlord, send it now and save a copy.
  • If you were unable to pay rent that was due between September 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, your landlord will never be able to evict you for that unpaid rent if you submitted this declaration to your landlord and you paid at least 25% of your September 2020 to September 2021 rent by September 30, 2021. The declaration requires you to confirm that you can't pay your full rent because of COVID-19. If you did not pay 25% of this rent by September 30, 2021, talk to a legal aid office (www.LawHelpCA.org) immediately to see if you can still pay this rent to save your home.
  • Important information:
    • If your household income is at least $100,000 and is 130% of your county's median household income, you may have to provide documentation of your COVID-19 related hardship.
    • You still owe your landlord all unpaid rent, and your landlord can take you to small claims court to force you to pay that rent. The court can reduce the debt you might owe if your landlord refused to apply for government rental assistance.
    • Your landlord may still be able to evict you for reasons other than not paying rent. However, your landlord cannot retaliate against you because you needed to apply for rental assistance.
    • Tenants with disabilities are entitled to additional protections. For more information, please visit https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/housing/.

Landlords should be aware of the following requirements relating to evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The Tenant Relief Act and COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act make big changes to the rules for notices to quit and eviction cases. For example, when serving a tenant with a notice for unpaid rent or other charges for certain periods of time, landlords must also give tenants a blank hardship declaration form, which allows the tenant to notify the landlord if he or she cannot afford the rent because of COVID-19. Landlords may wish to get legal advice regarding this declaration and related new tenant notice rules. If a tenant is approved for government rental assistance for COVID-19 related rent debt while an eviction case is pending, the court must pause the eviction case. If the government rental assistance has been paid and the landlord has received the rent debt required by law, the court must dismiss the case and permit the tenant to stay in the home. Therefore, landlords should consider waiting to file an eviction case regarding rent owed prior to March 31, 2022 if they know a tenant has applied for rental assistance.
  • A landlord who received a declaration from a tenant that he or she cannot pay rent, including due to COVID-19-related hardship, may be prohibited from taking action to evict that tenant. The exact rules vary according to the particular notice received, timing of the unpaid rent, and other factors, so landlords may wish to seek legal advice.
  • Landlords may be required to seek government rental assistance before bringing an eviction case to court based on nonpayment of rent or other charges. Landlords should consider obtaining legal advice to ensure they are following the rules.
  • Tenants who cannot pay the full rent due because of COVID have the right to avoid eviction by paying 25% of the rent due between September 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. Landlords should not try to get around this tenant protection by applying payments to a prior time period.
  • Landlords should not try to evict tenants for breaking their lease agreements to get around COVID-related tenant protections. The law requires that a lease violation be "substantial" or "material" in order to evict a tenant. Many technical lease violations are not substantial enough to evict a tenant, and landlords should not attempt to do so.

Statewide Rent Caps and Eviction Protections (AB 1482)

In 2019, California enacted the Tenant Protection Act (AB 1482), which created significant new protections for tenants. Both tenants and landlords should be aware of the requirements of this new law.

Limits on Rent Increases

The Tenant Protection Act caps rent increases for most tenants in California. Landlords cannot raise rent annually more than 5% plus inflation according to the regional Consumer Price Index, for a maximum increase of 10% each year. If a tenant moves out, the landlord is free to charge any rent for the next tenant who moves in.

Just Cause

The Tenant Protection Act also creates new statewide eviction protections for tenants who have been living in their units for at least a year. The law sets out two kinds of evictions: "at fault" evictions and "no fault" evictions.

At fault evictions include:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Breach of a material term of the lease
  • Nuisance, waste, or using the unit for unlawful purposes
  • Criminal activity on the premises or criminal activity off the premises directed at the owner or agent
  • Refusal to allow lawful entry
  • Refusal to execute a new lease on similar terms

No fault evictions include:

  • Owner move-in
  • Substantial rehabilitation or remodel
  • Intent to demolish the unit
  • Withdrawal of the unit from the rental market
  • The owner complying with any of the following:
    • An order issued by a government agency or court relating to habitability that requires the tenant to leave.
    • An order issued by a government agency or court that requires the tenant to leave.
    • A local ordinance that requires the tenant to leave.

Landlords can only evict a tenant for one of the reasons listed above. Some of these reasons have their own specific requirements, and landlords should consult with an attorney to make sure they are complying with the law. Lying about the reason for evicting a tenant is illegal.

What Units Are Covered by the Tenant Protection Act?

ALL rental units in the state except:

  • Single-family homes, unless they are owned or controlled by a corporation
  • Any units covered by a local rent control ordinance that is more protective than the Tenant Protection Act
  • Units constructed in the past 15 years (this is a rolling timeline, so tenants will gain protection once their building turns 15)
  • Mobile homes
  • Duplexes where the owner is living in one of the units at the time the tenant moves into the other unit, but only as long as the owner continues to live there
  • Affordable housing subject to a deed restriction, regulatory agreement or other agreement with a governmental agency
  • Dorms

Other Landlord Responsibilities:

Landlords and those who act on their behalf, such as property managers and attorneys, are responsible for complying with all state and local laws, including the following important points.

  • Landlords are responsible by law for keeping tenants' units safe and habitable. This includes things like safe and working plumbing, heating, electrical equipment, floors, and stairs; effective waterproofing; windows and doors with working locks; and ensuring the property is free from roaches, rats, mice, and other vermin. Even if tenants knew that their unit was not up to these standards when they moved in, it is still the landlord's responsibility to make all units habitable.
  • Landlords may not retaliate against tenants for exercising their rights. For example, it is against the law for a landlord to try to evict a tenant who has asked for repairs, and a landlord may not try to take away services or rights that the tenant previously enjoyed, like a storage space or parking.
  • It is illegal to try to "evict" a tenant by locking them out, shutting off the water or electricity, or removing their personal property. The only lawful way to evict a tenant is to file a case in court. A "self-help" lockout is a serious offense and can result in major legal consequences, including law enforcement action or a private court case by the tenant.
  • Any landlord planning an owner move-in or a relative move-in for their rental unit must act truthfully and in good faith and only proceed in circumstances that comply with all state and local requirements. These requirements often include restrictions on the window of time a landlord has to move in after an eviction and the length of time that the owner intends live in the rental in order to qualify as a valid owner move-in. Similarly, landlords must act truthfully when evicting a tenant to conduct a substantial remodel of a unit. Please also be aware that there may be special protections for protected groups such as senior tenants.
  • Landlords should also be aware that price gouging protections in place due to ongoing states of emergency, including protections under city or county price gouging ordinances and as a result of local emergency proclamations, may apply to rental housing, effectively limiting rent increases. Likewise, in addition to statutory statewide rental protections, many cities and counties have enacted additional rental protections, including rent stabilization and just cause eviction ordinances. Landlords should remain aware of the state and local legal requirements applicable to the cities or counties where their rental properties are located.

Getting Legal Help

If you are a tenant who needs legal help, you should know that many legal aid offices remain open by phone or email. To find a legal aid office near where you live, please visit www.LawHelpCA.org.

Mortgages and Foreclosures

Get in Touch with Your Loan Servicer: If you are having trouble making mortgage payments because of the COVID-19 public health emergency, or to apply for a loan modification or other option to avoid foreclosure, contact your servicer as soon as possible.

See If You Qualify for Mortgage Relief Funds: Homeowners who have fallen behind on mortgage payments due to COVID-19-related financial hardship may be eligible for relief through California's Mortgage Relief Program. The program will pay a total of $1 billion to cover missed mortgage payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a one-time grant that eligible homeowners will not have to repay. To find out if you are eligible and to apply, see the California Mortgage Relief Program web page.

Forbearances: Forbearance plans allow you to temporarily lower or postpone your monthly mortgage payment for a certain period of time, but you must make up those payments later. To learn more about forbearances, see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's What Is Forbearance web page.

Some homeowners with a federally backed mortgage who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 may be able to get a forbearance. Federally backed mortgages include loans insured, issued, or guaranteed by federal agencies like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as loans purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. To find out if your loan is federally backed or which agency backs it, contact your servicer or see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Relief You May Qualify For web page.

To get a forbearance, you must contact your servicer to ask for it. The deadline for asking for a forbearance and the length of forbearance depends on which federal agency backs your mortgage. Also, until October 1, 2022, any servicer contacting delinquent borrowers must provide information about COVID-19 forbearance programs and how to find contact information for homeownership counseling services.

  • For single-family homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, no deadline for asking for a forbearance has been announced. You can get a 6-month forbearance and can ask for a further extension. If you were in forbearance as of February 28, 2021, you can extend your forbearance period by 12 months (total forbearance of 18 months).
  • For single-family homes with mortgages backed by the FHA, you can ask for a forbearance until the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency. You can get a 6-month forbearance and can ask for a further extension.
    • If you were in forbearance as of June 30, 2020, you can extend your forbearance period by up to 12 months (total forbearance of 18 months).
    • If you got a forbearance between July 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020, you can extend your forbearance by up to 9 months (total forbearance of 15 months).
    • If you got a forbearance between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, you can extend your forbearance by up to 6 months (total forbearance of 12 months).
    • If you get a forbearance on or after October 1, 2021, you can extend your forbearance by up to 6 months if your initial 6-month forbearance ends before the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency.

If you fall into one of the categories above, your servicer must grant your request without requiring documentation of financial hardship and without charging additional fees, penalties, or interest (beyond scheduled amounts).

Even if you do not have a federally backed mortgage, many financial institutions have agreed to provide forbearances or other relief to homeowners impacted by COVID-19. Contact your servicer to discuss your options.

Before agreeing to a forbearance or other option, make sure you understand the terms of any forbearance plan or other options offered. Under some forbearance plans, you must resume your regular monthly payments and immediately pay back the postponed payments unless you qualify for a different option. You may have different repayment options, including making up the payments at the end of your loan term. Make sure you know what the repayment terms are and what options you will have if you are still struggling to make payments after the forbearance period. Also check to see if your servicer will waive any late fees or penalties and refrain from negative credit reporting. Servicers must waive certain existing fees (including late fees, penalties, and stop-payment fees) incurred on or after March 1, 2020 for borrowers offered certain COVID-19-related loan modification options based on the evaluation of an incomplete loss mitigation application.

Exiting forbearance: Before your mortgage forbearance ends, you should reach out to your servicer to plan next steps and discuss how you can repay your forbearance. Additionally, until October 1, 2022, whenever a servicer establishes live contact with a borrower in a forbearance program made available to borrowers experiencing a COVID-19-related hardship, the servicer must tell the borrower about any loss mitigation options the servicer offers, and information on how to find options for homeownership counseling services.

In general, you can submit a loss mitigation application to your servicer to see if you are eligible for any alternatives to foreclosure. Once you submit an application, your servicer will tell you if it needs additional information or documents to make that application "complete." Once you submit a complete application, your servicer will generally evaluate it to see if you qualify for a repayment plan, loan modification, short sale, or other option that will allow you to avoid foreclosure. Pursuant to new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules, your servicer may also offer you streamlined COVID-19-related loss mitigation options based on an evaluation of an incomplete loss mitigation application. These options may be explained to you by phone, so be sure to ask for all of the information discussed to be provided to you in writing.

Keep Detailed Records and Review Your Mortgage Statements: It is important to keep documentation about how COVID-19 has hurt your ability to make mortgage payments, for example due to job loss, reduced hours, medical expenses, or caring for a sick family member. You may need to show your servicer this documentation to get relief. If you get a forbearance or other mortgage relief option, make sure to get all the terms in writing from your servicer. Also make sure to review your mortgage statements and check your credit reports to make sure there are no errors. You can get a free copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com.

Know Your Rights: California's Homeowner Bill of Rights provides protections to homeowners facing foreclosure. To learn more about these rights, please see the Homeowner Bill of Rights. Until January 1, 2023, the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 extends these protections to homeowners who rent out their property so long as they have no more than three residential properties, the property is no more than four units, and the property is occupied by a tenant who has lived there since before March 4, 2020 and who cannot pay rent because of a COVID-19 related financial hardship. To learn more about federal protections extended to homeowners through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and CFPB's 2021 Mortgage Servicing COVID-19 Rule, which became effective August 31, 2021, please see CFPB's Help for Homeowners resource page.

Beware of Scams: Fraudsters taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis may try to take your money or even your home by claiming they can help you get mortgage relief or stop foreclosure. Be wary of anyone who charges upfront fees, guarantees results, or asks you to make your mortgage payments to them. Before working with anyone who says they can help you with your mortgage, and to learn about free assistance, please see Loan Modification Fraud and Foreclosure Rescue Scams.

For more information about mortgage relief and foreclosure alternatives, go to the Housing Is Key web page.

Recent Mortgages and Foreclosures Updates

Labor

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on California employees and their families. Whether you are facing unemployment, or unsafe working conditions, you are entitled to certain benefits and protections.

You have the right to be healthy and safe at work: All workers in California, regardless of immigration status, have the right to protection from safety and health hazards, including: COVID-19, the right to report an unsafe workplace, and the right refuse to work in unsafe conditions. It is illegal for your employer to reduce your hours, fire you, or retaliate against you for exercising your labor rights. To learn more about health and safety in the workplace, see California’s “Safer at Work” website.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits: If you lose your job or have your hours reduced due to COVID-19-related reasons, you may be eligible for partial wage replacement benefits. Visit the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) website for additional information about unemployment benefits, and to file a claim.

Disability Benefits: If you’re unable to work due to medical quarantine or illness related to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you may be eligible for state disability insurance benefits. Visit the EDD’s Disability Insurance webpage for additional information.

Paid Family Leave: If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you may be eligible for paid family leave benefits. Visit the EDD’s Paid Family Leave webpage for additional information.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits: If you were infected with COVID-19 at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Visit the Division of Workers’ Compensation website for additional information.

Workers and employers affected by, impacted by, or navigating questions by COVID-19, can find additional guidance and resources on the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency’s website.

Recent Updates on Workers' Rights:

Helpful COVID-19 Resources

COVID19.ca.gov has the latest information on coronavirus preparedness and response in California. Critical health information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

Additionally, the websites of the California Department of Public Health, Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, and Office of Emergency Services have further information for Californians.

COVID-19 Related Press Releases

06/08/21: Attorney General Bonta: In California, Federal Child Tax Credit Is Exempt from Garnishment

05/19/21: Attorney General Bonta Issues Consumer Alert Warning Californians About Counterfeit COVID-19 Vaccination Record Cards

05/17/21: Attorney General Bonta Advises COVID-19 Vaccination Providers Not to Charge for Vaccines

04/12/21: California Department of Justice Pushes Back on Tyson Foods' Attempt to Sidestep State Court Review of Waterloo Facility COVID-19 Outbreak

03/02/21: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Reported COVID FEES Charged to Patients

02/16/21: Attorney General Becerra: Federal Reserve Proposal Will Reinforce Access to Banking and Credit Services for Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color

01/27/21: Attorney General Becerra Announces Establishment of Division of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse

01/13/21: Attorney General Becerra Challenges Trump Administration Rule Leaving in Place Insufficient Standards Regulating Particulate Matter Pollution

01/11/21: Attorney General Becerra Joins Bipartisan Coalition Pushing FDA to Examine Progress in Opioid Fight

12/18/20: Attorney General Becerra Files Lawsuit to Stop Trump Administration from Weakening Critical Safeguards for Agricultural Workers

12/14/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Bipartisan Coalition on 340B Drug Pricing Program Requirements

12/14/20: Attorney General Becerra Petitions Court to Compel Amazon to Comply with Outstanding Investigative Subpoenas

12/10/20: Attorney General Becerra Stands Up Against Trump Administration Attack on Farmworker Wages

12/07/20: Attorney General Becerra Condemns Trump Administration Failure to Strengthen Standards Regulating Particulate Matter Pollution

12/04/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition Opposing Dangerous HHS Deregulation by the Trump Administration

11/29/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Congress to Renew the CARES Act for COVID-19 Victims

11/16/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Adoption of Emergency Workplace Standard to Help Safeguard Employees from COVID-19 in California

11/09/20: On Eve of Oral Arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court, Attorney General Becerra Issues Statement in Defense of the Affordable Care Act

11/02/20: Attorney General Becerra Condemns Latest Trump Administration Attack on Health and Well-Being of Immigrant Families

10/29/20: Attorney General Becerra: Trump Administration Removes Critical Public Health Protections for Agricultural Workers in the Midst of Pandemic

10/28/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Coalition Pushing for Scientific and Medical Research Funding During COVID-19 Pandemic

10/26/20: Attorney General Becerra Highlights Resources to Combat Intimate Partner Violence

10/23/20: As Drug Overdoses Rise Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Attorney General Becerra Encourages Californians to Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

10/20/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Effort to Stand Up for Voter Protections in Minnesota

10/15/20: Attorney General Becerra Takes Action to Ensure Californians Have Access to Mental Health Care

10/08/20: Attorney General Becerra Stands Up in Support of Effort to Help Americans Vote Safely and Securely During COVID-19

10/06/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition Seeking Supreme Court Review Against Trump-Pence Administration's Title X Family Planning Rule

09/29/20: Attorney General Becerra Opposes SBA Move to Shut Small Businesses Out of Emergency Loans

09/28/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Legal Effort to Protect Voter Rights and Health During COVID-19

09/25/20: Attorney General Becerra: Secretary DeVos Abandons Attempt to Siphon Pandemic Relief Funds from Public Schools

09/24/20: Attorney General Becerra Supports Kentucky's Fight Against Price Gouging

09/22/20: Attorney General Becerra Condemns Trump Administration Proposal That Would Allow Discrimination Against Transgender Americans Seeking Shelter

09/18/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges California Supreme Court to Hold Mortgage Servicers Responsible and Protect the Rights of Homeowners

09/17/20: After Appeals Court Rejects Federal Government Preemption Directive, Attorney General Becerra Defends California’s Net Neutrality Law in Court

09/17/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Trump Administration to Step Up Food Assistance Response During Ongoing Pandemic

09/10/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Price Gouging Following State of Emergency Declaration in Siskiyou County

09/09/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Price Gouging Following State of Emergency Declaration in Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties

09/08/20: Attorney General Becerra Files Amicus Brief Opposing FDA’s Attempt to Restrict Safe Access to Abortion Medication During COVID-19 Crisis

08/26/20: Attorney General Becerra Secures Early Court Victory Against Trump Administration Attack on Pandemic Relief Funds for Public Schools

08/20/20: Attorney General Becerra Petitions Court to Require California Egg Distributor and its Parent Company to Comply with Investigation into Alleged Price Gouging Violations

08/05/20: Attorney General Becerra Files Amicus Brief Opposing FDA’s Unnecessary Barriers to Abortion Medication During COVID-19 Pandemic

08/05/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Congress to Pass Critical Provisions to Provide Equal Relief Options for all Federal Student Loan Borrowers

08/04/20: Attorney General Becerra Reminds Mortgage Servicers of Their Obligations to California Homeowners During COVID-19 Pandemic

8/4/20: Attorneys General Becerra and Landry Lead Bipartisan Coalition Urging Federal Government Action to Increase Access and Affordability for Remdesivir

07/29/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Reply Brief in Supreme Court Fight to Save the ACA

07/21/20: Attorney General Becerra Files Brief Challenging the Trump Administration’s Removal of Critical Worker Protections in Pork Slaughterhouses

07/17/20: Attorney General Becerra Seeks Court Order to Immediately Block Education Secretary DeVos Rule Threatening K-12 Public School Pandemic Relief Funds

07/14/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Statement Following Trump Administration’s Decision to Ditch Dangerous Student Visa Directive

7/14/20: Attorney General Becerra Seeks Court Order to Immediately Halt Unlawful Trump Administration Policy Threatening Health and Safety at Colleges and Universities During COVID-19

07/14/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Congress to Address Childcare Funding as Part of Next Coronavirus Relief Package

07/09/20: Attorney General Becerra, State Public Education Leaders Sue Trump Administration for Arbitrary Policy That Threatens to Spread COVID-19 in Colleges Across the Country

07/09/20: Attorney General Becerra Applauds Court Order Allowing Final Approval Process for Landmark Sutter Settlement to Move Forward

07/07/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Lawsuit Against Secretary DeVos’ Attempt to Siphon Pandemic Relief Funds Away from Public Schools

07/07/20: Attorney General Becerra: Separate Abortion Billing Rule Threatens Health Coverage During the Pandemic, A 60-Day Delay Won’t Fix What’s Broken

06/22/20: Attorney General Becerra Files Brief Challenging the Trump Administration's Refusal to Open a Special Enrollment Period on HealthCare.Gov in Response to COVID-19

06/18/20: Attorney General Becerra: Charges Filed Against Los Angeles County Pharmacist for Price Gouging on Masks

06/16/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Letter to Google and Apple Expressing Concerns Regarding Proliferation of Unofficial Contact Tracing Apps

06/12/20: Attorney General Becerra Slams Rollback of Section 1557 Protections: Discrimination Has No Place in Our Public Health System

06/11/20: Attorney General Becerra Highlights Consumer Rights and Resources in Response to Recent Business Bankruptcies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

06/08/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on COVID-19 Contact Tracing Scams

06/04/20: Attorney General Becerra Files Amicus Brief Challenging FDA’s Unnecessary Barriers to Abortion Medication in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic

06/02/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Coalition Calling on Walmart to Step Up Efforts to Protect Workers and the Public During COVID-19

06/01/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Coalition Urging Congress to Protect SNAP, Keep Food on Families' Tables

05/21/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Bipartisan Coalition Backing Federal Legislation to Support Families of First Responders Affected by COVID-19

05/20/20: Attorney General Becerra Calls on Auto Manufacturers to Ensure Consumers Timely Vehicle Lease Returns During the COVID-19 Pandemic

05/19/20: Attorney General Becerra Announces Over $550 Million Settlement Against Nation’s Largest Subprime Auto Financing Company for Deceptive Auto Loan Practices

05/14/20: Bipartisan Coalition of Leaders and Experts Support Supreme Court Fight to Protect ACA

05/13/20: Attorney General Becerra Sues Trump Administration Over Non-Compliance Policy That Allows EPA to Give Industry Polluters a Free Pass

05/12/20: Attorney General Becerra Criticizes Reckless Federal Executive Order Forcing Meat and Poultry Workers to Work Without Adequate Protections During COVID-19

05/07/20: Attorney General Becerra and Alameda County District Attorney O’Malley Announce Price Gouging Charges Against Alameda County Grocery Store Owner

05/06/20: Attorney General Becerra: Trump Administration Rule Weakens Federal Protections for Victims of Sexual Violence Under Title IX

05/06/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition of 20 States and the District of Columbia Defending the ACA in U.S. Supreme Court

05/06/20: Attorney General Xavier Becerra Warns Consumers to Beware of Scams Related to Economic Impact Stimulus Payments

05/05/20: Attorney General Becerra Pushes for Greater Transparency and Communication as Coronavirus Continues to Spread in Nursing Homes

05/01/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Secretary Ben Carson to Further Protect Senior Homeowners with Reverse Mortgages Affected by COVID-19

04/30/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Guidance to Law Enforcement on Hate Crimes During COVID-19

04/30/20: Attorneys General Becerra and Healey Urge HHS Not to Finalize Rule That Would Permit Healthcare Discrimination During Global COVID-19 Pandemic

04/28/20: Attorney General Xavier Becerra Reminds Credit Reporting Agencies to Comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Protect Consumers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

4/23/20: Attorney General Becerra Proposes Changes to the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule to Provide Stronger Consumer Protections Within the Funeral Industry

04/23/20: Attorney General Becerra Calls on Federal Government to Increase Protections for Homeowners During COVID-19

04/23/20: Attorney General Becerra Proposes Changes to the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule to Provide Stronger Consumer Protections Within the Funeral Industry

04/22/20: Attorney General Becerra Calls on the Federal Communications Commission and Telecom Industry to Further Protect Consumers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

04/21/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Letter to 3M Requesting Increased Coordination with States to Aid COVID-19 Response

04/17/20: Attorney General Becerra Calls on Trump Administration to Protect Vulnerable Communities from Homelessness During COVID-19, Halt Proposal Threatening Mass Evictions

04/14/20: Attorney General Becerra Co-leads Push with Michigan and North Carolina AGs for Increased Federal Government Outreach to Inform Americans of Healthcare Coverage Eligibility During COVID-19

04/13/20: Attorney General Becerra Shares Resources to Combat Intimate Partner Violence During COVID-19

04/13/20: Attorney General Xavier Becerra Joins Coalition Urging the Department of the Treasury to Immediately Exempt COVID-19 Emergency Monetary Relief from Garnishment

04/13/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Trump Administration to Take Action to Minimize the Spread of COVID-19 in Immigration Detention Facilities

04/13/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Letter Opposing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Decision to Scale Back Enforcement of the Fair Credit Reporting Act

04/10/20: Attorney General Becerra Reminds Consumers of their Data Privacy Rights During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

04/07/20: Attorney General Becerra and Commissioner of Business Oversight Alvarez Issue Investor Alert About Investment Scams Related to COVID-19

04/07/20: Attorney General Becerra Co-leads Letter Urging Trump Administration to Safeguard Americans' Healthcare Coverage, Halt Implementation of Their Abortion Separate Payment Rule

04/07/20: Following Judicial Council's Emergency Eviction Rule, Attorney General Becerra Issues Updated Consumer Alert for Tenants Affected by COVID-19

04/06/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Coalition Standing Up for Antidiscrimination Protections in Federal Contracts

04/03/20: Attorneys General Becerra and Stein Send Letter Urging Trump Administration to Instate Special Enrollment Period on Healthcare.gov to Help Millions of Consumers with COVID-19 Costs

04/03/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Coalition Urging the VA to Suspend Deadlines and Collection Activities for Veterans During COVID-19 Pandemic

4/3/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Amicus Brief Challenging Texas' Restrictions on Abortion During COVID-19

04/02/20: Attorney General Becerra Reminds Californians the Filing Deadline for Tax Season Has Been Extended Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

03/31/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Coalition Calling on Trump Administration to Halt Implementation of Joint Employer Rule Undermining Wage Protections

03/30/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition of 21 Attorneys General Asking FDA to Increase Access to Reproductive Telehealth Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

03/27/20: Attorney General Becerra Reminds Wholesalers and Manufacturers They are Subject to California's Price Gouging Law

03/27/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert Regarding False Advertising Related to Coronavirus

03/27/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Coalition Calling on Trump Administration to Suspend Title IX Rulemaking During Public Health National Emergency

03/26/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Letter Urging Secretary DeVos to Protect Student Loan Borrowers During COVID-19 Public Health Crisis

03/26/20: Attorney General Xavier Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Fraudulent Charities Amid the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

03/26/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Coalition Urging Trump Administration to Ease Restrictions and Allow Medical Professionals to Research Solutions to COVID-19 Pandemic

03/26/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Coalition Urging Whole Foods and Amazon to Step Up on Worker Protections and Paid Sick Leave

03/23/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges the Trump Administration to Fully Invoke the Defense Production Act and Provide Supplies to Combat COVID-19

03/19/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins 18 Attorneys General Calling on Trump Administration to Halt Implementation of Its Public Charge Rule Which Could Undermine COVID-19 Response

03/18/20: Attorney General Becerra: Education Secretary DeVos’ Move to Strip Protections from Students Loan Borrowers Is Illegal, Couldn’t Come at a Worse Time; California Will Challenge It

03/4/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Price Gouging Following Statewide Declaration of Emergency for Novel Coronavirus Cases in California Communities