Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19
The following information answers many questions bank customers may have regarding banking during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
You also can find updated information on the OCC's “COVID-19 (Coronavirus)” information page. The page contains FAQs and links to information posted by the OCC and other federal agencies including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
- General Information
- Branch Closed or Has Limited Access (Including Phone and Hours)
- Checking Accounts and EFT/Wire Transfers
- CD Accounts
- Credit Card Accounts
- Loans and Credit
- Safe Deposit Boxes
- Availability of Cash
- Fraud and Scams
- Treasury Stimulus Package
- COVID-19 Resources
What can I do if I am unable to call the OCC to file a new complaint or ask questions about my existing complaint because the call center staff is temporarily unavailable?
You can file a complaint using the “Customer Complaint Form.” The form has a 30-minute time limit for security reasons. If you have not completed and submitted the form within 30 minutes of beginning to fill out the form, information you entered may be lost. You may also fax your complaint to (713) 336-4301. The OCC can facilitate communications between you and the bank once your written complaint is received. You can also research general banking questions on our Help With My Bank website.
You can check the status of your existing complaint case by entering your assigned case number.
What guidance is the OCC providing to banks about how to respond to customers affected by COVID-19?
The OCC encourages banks to take steps to meet the financial service needs of customers adversely affected by COVID-19-related issues. These efforts may include
- waiving certain fees, such as
- automated teller machine (ATM) fees for customers and non-customers.
- overdraft fees.
- late payment fees on credit cards and other loans.
- early withdrawal penalties on time deposits.
- increasing ATM daily cash withdrawal limits.
- easing restrictions on cashing out-of-state and non-customer checks.
- increasing credit card limits for creditworthy borrowers.
- offering payment accommodations, such as allowing borrowers to defer or skip some payments or extending the payment due date, which would avoid delinquencies and negative credit bureau reporting caused by COVID-19-related disruptions.
- restructuring a borrower's debt obligations due to temporary hardships resulting from COVID-19-related issues.
What is the OCC doing to help consumers while COVID-19 is affecting communities?
The OCC is working cooperatively with state and federal banking agencies and other organizations to help regulated institutions and their customers manage the effects of COVID-19. The OCC is encouraging banks to take steps to meet the financial service needs of customers affected by COVID-19-related issues, including waiving certain fees, such as ATM fees. Banks, however, are not required to waive fees. If you have questions concerning the operations of your financial institution, please call your financial institution or visit your financial institution's website.
How do I get cash or transact business if my bank branch is closed or limits its hours in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Check with your bank's customer service department. You may be able to use a drive-up teller window or an ATM. You may also be able to use your bank's online banking or mobile banking application.
The OCC understands that banks may need to temporarily close or otherwise reduce physical access to a facility because of staffing challenges or to take precautionary measures. The OCC encourages banks to reduce disruptions to their customers, provide alternative service options when practical, and reopen affected facilities when it is safe to do so.
What should I do when I am not able to contact my bank by phone or internet?
During this time, banks may have to reduce staff or temporarily close branches. Additionally, they may experience heavy call volumes. Check your bank’s website for contact information. You can write to your bank, or you may be able to communicate via a “chat” function, if available.
If you are still unable to contact your bank, file a complaint with the OCC using the “Customer Complaint Form.”
Is my bank allowed to decrease its staff and servicing due to COVID-19?
Yes, your bank may reduce hours or close to protect the health and safety of consumers and staff. The OCC recognizes the potential for COVID-19 to affect bank customers, bank employees, and bank operations. Banks may face current staffing and other challenges. The OCC encourages banks to take steps to meet the financial service needs of customers affected by COVID-19-related issues.
How do I transfer money from my financial institution to a family member or friend?
Verify with the institution you want to send money to or get money from that they can accept or send fund transfers. Ask about the fees associated with the funds transfer. The bank will require you to provide identification; make sure you have the required identification documents before you attempt to process the transaction. You should also understand the identification requirements of the bank you are sending money to and make sure that the person getting the funds has the required identification.
You will need the following information to process a wire transfer transaction:
- The bank account number of the person you are sending money to. Generally, this number is located in the middle of a check or deposit slip.
- The bank routing number (this is a nine-digit number that identifies the specific bank holding the account you are sending money to). Generally, the routing number is located in the lower left-hand corner of the check or deposit slip.
- The physical address of the bank you are wiring money to.
You will need to confirm that the information you are providing to the bank is correct. Make sure you have gathered the correct information before you attempt to process the transaction.
Ask the bank to send you a transaction receipt by email or mail.
What if I had to pay ATM fees because I do not have access to my bank's ATM network, but I need cash due to COVID-19 related issues?
Contact your bank to explain your specific situation. Your bank may elect to waive ATM fees for customers and non-customers affected by COVID-19. Banks, however, are not required to waive fees.
Will the direct deposit of my payroll be delayed or affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
For questions related to your payroll deposits, you should contact your employer first. Verify that the payment order was transmitted and the information in the payment order (account number and routing number) were correct. As the originator of the direct deposit, your employer is in the best position to determine the location of the deposit. You may also contact your bank to verify receipt of the direct deposit.
Will I have to pay a fee or penalty if I need to withdraw funds from my certificate of deposit to pay expenses related to COVID-19?
Contact your bank to explain your specific situation and to discuss possible waiver of fees or penalties for withdrawals related to COVID-19. The OCC is encouraging banks to take steps to meet the financial service needs of customers adversely affected by COVID-19-related issues, including waiving certain fees, such as early withdrawal penalties on time deposits. Banks, however, are not required to waive fees.
I may need to go over the credit limit on my credit card to fund unexpected living expenses as a result of COVID-19. Will I have to pay over-limit fees?
Your bank may consider increasing your credit limit or waiving your fees. Contact your bank to explain your specific situation to request a credit limit increase or a fee waiver. Banks, however, are not required to increase your credit limit or waive your fees.
I may become late or delinquent on my credit card because of reduced working hours as a result of COVID-19. Will the bank charge me late fees or increase my normal interest rate to a higher penalty rate?
Your bank may consider waiving any late fees or forgoing implementation of a penalty interest rate. Contact your bank to explain your specific situation and to request a fee waiver or maintenance of your current interest rate. The OCC is encouraging banks to take steps to meet the financial service needs of customers adversely affected by COVID-19-related issues, including waiving certain fees, such as late payment fees on credit cards. Banks are not required to waive your fees or maintain your current interest rate.
What if I have trouble paying my mortgage as a result of COVID-19?
You should contact your loan servicer as soon as possible to let them know of your circumstances. The OCC has encouraged banks to work with customers who have been adversely affected by COVID-19.
If your loan is owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) and your ability to pay your mortgage is affected, you may be eligible to delay making your monthly mortgage payments temporarily. Additionally, on March 18, 2020, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) directed the Enterprises to suspend foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days due to the COVID-19 national emergency. More information is available on the FHFA website.
The OCC generally does not have the authority to stop a foreclosure, but you can file a “Customer Complaint Form” with the OCC if you are having problems with your bank's handling of your mortgage loan. The OCC can facilitate communications between you and the bank once your written complaint is received. We advise you to contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to review information and understand your options. This service is free and available 24/7. You can visit the OCC's Help With My Bank website and review the general information under the Mortgages category for more details. You may also want to seek legal assistance to protect your rights.
What if I have trouble making payments on my consumer loans?
You should contact your lender to explain your specific situation. The OCC is encouraging banks to take steps to meet the financial service needs of customers adversely affected by COVID-19-related issues.
The federal government also recommends using credit counselors accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), in coordination with the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA). Information about credit counseling is available from the CFPB and the NFCC.
I missed my loan payment(s) because I lost my job as a result of COVID-19. Will I have to pay late fees?
Contact your bank to discuss your specific circumstances. The OCC has encouraged banks to work with customers who have been adversely affected by COVID-19. This might include allowing you to defer or skip payments without consequences, extend your loan terms, or restructure the loan.
My job shut down (or my work hours have been cut back) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. My bank will not work with me on the repayment of my loans. What should I do?
If you are experiencing challenges repaying your loans because of job loss or a reduction in hours, contact your institution as soon as possible to discuss your specific situation and explore options that may be available to you. If your bank refuses to work with you for reasons you think are inappropriate, you may file a complaint with the OCC using the “Customer Complaint Form.” The form has a 30-minute time limit for security reasons. If you have not completed and submitted the form within 30 minutes of beginning to fill out the form, information you entered may be lost. You may also fax your complaint to (713) 336-4301 or contact the OCC Customer Assistance Group at (800) 613-6743. The OCC can facilitate communications between you and the bank once your written complaint is received. You can also research general banking questions on our Help With My Bank website.
I cannot get to my safe deposit box because the bank is closed. What should I do?
Call your bank's customer service number for assistance.
Will there be enough cash during a pandemic or other national disaster?
The federal agencies are prepared to use their full range of tools to help ensure that customer needs continue to be met. The Federal Reserve System is working to meet the currency needs of banking customers. You can find additional information about the steps the Federal Reserve is taking on the Federal Reserve website. Deposits with an FDIC-insured institution will continue to be protected up to at least $250,000. For more information on deposit insurance, please visit the FDIC website.
How can I protect myself or educate my elderly parents against fraud or scams?
Scammers may attempt to use your concerns related to COVID-19 to get personal information from you or to gain access to your accounts. Beware of fraudulent websites, phone calls, emails, and text messages claiming to offer “important COVID-19 information” or “help.” Protect your financial and personal information. Never give out your social security number, bank account number, credit card number, or other personal information. You should never provide any bank account details, credit card numbers, or other personal information over the phone unless you originated the contact with the other party and you know that the entity is reputable. Note: Government agencies will never call you to request your personal information.
You should decline requests to cash a check for someone in exchange for a fee. Even if the bank provides you with immediate credit, the check could be fraudulent. When a check is returned as fraudulent, the money is removed from your account. The CFPB publication Money Smart for Older Adults Resource Guide provides valuable information.
The Federal Trade Commission has tips to protect yourself from possible COVID-19-related scams. Report a matter of fraud or scam to the U.S. Department of the Treasury Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline at (800) 359-3898, option #6.
What should I do if I receive an email offer to refinance my mortgage loan? Should I respond directly to the email or click on any provided links?
If you are unsure of the legitimacy of any apparent bank email or other communication you receive, you should contact your bank directly via reliable channels (e.g., telephone number on the bank's own website or on a recent bank statement). Do not click on any links and do not respond directly to any email or other communication you feel may be suspicious.
Phishing scams posing as a real estate or settlement agent attempt to divert consumers' closing costs and down payments into a fraudulent account by confirming or suggesting last-minute changes to wiring instructions. To avoid these scams,
- identify two trusted representatives at your bank or mortgage company and settlement firm to confirm the closing process and payment instructions.
- before wiring money, always confirm instructions with your trusted representatives.
- avoid using phone numbers or links in an email.
- do not email financial information.
- be mindful of providing financial information in a phone conversation.
Where can I find more information about the stimulus package?
Information about economic impact payments for eligible recipients can be found on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website. Questions regarding any offset or garnishment of your stimulus funds should be directed to the Treasury Department website. Information, including small business guidance and loan resources can be found on the Small Business Administration (SBA) website.
I understand that the IRS will automatically deposit my Economic Impact Payment in the bank account where I received my most recent Federal income tax refund. I have recently closed that bank account. What should I do?
Please visit the IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center for information on payments sent to inactive bank accounts.
My bank has used my Economic Impact Payment to offset outstanding overdraft fees in my checking account. Do I have any recourse to access my payment?
Contact your bank to discuss your specific situation. Banks are not required to waive valid account fees; however, the OCC is encouraging banks to take steps to meet the financial service needs of customers adversely affected by COVID-19 related issues.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. Department of State overseas travel information
- Ready.gov (how to prepare your home and family during a pandemic)
- What the U.S. government is doing (Spanish: https://gobierno.usa.gov/coronavirus)