Showing posts from 2021

COVID-19 Student Loan Relief Extended through May 2022

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced* a further extension of the COVID-19 emergency relief for student loan repayment, interest, and collections.  The pause was previously extended until January 31, 2022, but an additional 90 day extension was approved through May 1, 2022 . So what does this mean for you?  Eligible** loans have been granted the following relief measures:      - Suspension of loan payments          This suspension will help 41 million borrowers save $5 billion in student loan payments per month.  There is no fee for this, and your loan servicer will automatically implement the suspension.  There is nothing you need to do on your end!      - Temporary 0% interest rate          Your loans will not accrue (accumulate) any additional interest until May 2022.  Optional payments made during this time can allow you to pay off your loans faster, and lower the total cost of your loans over time.      - Stopped collections on defaulted loans          Throughout t

Zombie Debt: Run, Hide or Stand Your Ground?

Have you received a call or letter demanding you pay an old debt that either you forgot about, paid off, or is simply not yours? AHH! You may be a victim of “zombie debt collection”. Zombie debts typically show up for various reasons: 1.        Sometimes they are debts that are either very old and/or no longer owed - past the statute of limitations (SOL) for legal action in your state, which is usually between three and six years.   2.       You may have forgotten about the debt or had previously settled on the debt with either the original creditor or another collection agency. 3.       The debt is a result of identity theft. 4.       You filed the debt with a bankruptcy filing and it was discharged. The biggest issue with these zombie debts is that individuals are pressured into paying the debt, which they may not even need to pay! The first step is not to acknowledge the debt, but request verification that the debt is in fact yours, and that you may be required to pay.

Student Loans - Huge Changes Coming to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)!

On October 6, 2021, the Department of Education announced an overhaul that is coming for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program for federally backed student loans!  For a limited time (now through October 31, 2022), borrowers may receive credit for past payments made on their student loans that would not have otherwise qualified for PSLF.   Key parts to this announcement include: Implementing a limited PSLF waiver to count prior payments Simplifying what it means for a payment to qualify for PSLF Eliminating barriers for military service members to receive PSLF Automatically helping service members and other federal employees access PSLF Reviewing of denied PSLF applications and identifying/correcting errors in PSLF processing Improving outreach and communication with PSLF eligible borrowers Simplifying the PSLF application process Making long term improvements to PSLF through rulemaking Helpful links: Press release, fact sheet on PSLF program overhaul What borrowers

NYS Excluded Worker's Fund has relief available, and CCCS of Buffalo can help!

  Do you know anyone who is a cash worker or undocumented worker that lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic? The New York State Excluded Worker’s Fund helps these workers obtain the federal relief funds that they were left out of. Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo is one of only three Western New York organizations selected by New York State to help individuals access financial help through the all new Excluded Workers Fund — the first of its kind in the nation. The EWF officially began as of August 1 st  after its approval in the New York State budget this spring. It is a fund of approximately $2.1 billion and can provide benefits of as much as $15,600 per worker. Applications for the EWF are available in 13 different languages and applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online. Applications will not be accepted by mail.  CCCS encourages all those who believe they may be eligible to visit  and to contact CCCS at 712-2060 for any he

Holiday Spending Plan

  As the summer comes to yet another close, swiftly approaching is the holiday season. Have you started planning yet? Well… if not, you likely aren’t alone.   In less than 3 months a busy schedule lies ahead; Family gatherings and visiting relatives, attending parties and potlucks, entertaining the kids while they are eagerly home from school, and of course… shopping.   This should be the time of year to enjoy, and with the right planning, of both your time and your finances, you can have a great holiday season! Like most successful endeavors, this will start with a detailed plan. Ideally this should happen earlier in the year; whether you are putting money aside in a savings club, or purchasing gifts intermittently throughout the year.   Perhaps that wasn’t the case this year but don't worry! You can still have a great holiday season if you focus your attention on these 5 specific recommendations and tips to maximize your dollars: Make a list, and check it twice . Determine t

Consumer Credit Counseling Service Will Help Excluded Workers in WNY; Selected to Help Administer New York’s Excluded Workers Fund

  Call 716-712-2060 or visit   Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) announced today that it is working to secure workers’ benefits for those who have been excluded from the federal stimulus efforts. CCCS is one of only three Western New York organizations selected by New York State to help individuals access financial help through the all new Excluded Workers Fund — the first of its kind in the nation. The Excluded Workers Fund (EWF) provides financial assistance to New Yorkers who lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic and were left out of various federal relief programs, including unemployment and pandemic benefits, according to the New York Department of Labor Those who were unable to access unemployment and/or any other pandemic benefits include undocumented adults and those with nontraditional jobs. The EWF officially began as of August 1 st after its approval in the New York State budget this spring. It is

Common Financial Pitfalls... and How to Avoid Them!

It’s so easy for so many of us to fall into the trap of the little things that can set us back financially, even when we have the best of intentions to stay committed to our financial goals.  Here are 3 of some very common financial pitfalls, and even more importantly, tips on how to avoid them! 1.   Impulsive Spending Ever go to the grocery store hungry, and find yourself pulling more things off the shelves than you had initially intended?  Do you get a little click-happy when you’re shopping online, then have 10 items in your Amazon cart when you only planned on buying one thing?  Tempted by all the shiny and fun stuff on store endcaps and in checkout lines?  So much of what we buy is on impulse.  You’re not alone, and there are ways to reduce or even eliminate this! How to avoid: Have a plan! Don’t go grocery shopping without a pre-planned list (and stick to that list!).  Turn off “one click ordering” on your favorite online shopping sites, so you have an active barrier to just easi

Budget Friendly Staycation Ideas

  We all need a break from work from time to time. How do you take some vacation time but not get into debt or throw your budget off? The answer for many of us is to take a “Staycation.” You can have a good time by staying close to home or being a tourist in your own town! Staycation ideas that won’t break the bank: ·          Check out local parks and trails to hike ·          Plan a backyard camping night ·          Have a movie night complete with snacks from the Dollar Store ·          Have a craft night with supplies from the Dollar Store ·          Wanting to have a swim? Check out local hotel deals for a cheap one night stay somewhere with a pool ·          Plan a picnic ·          Have a beach day if one is nearby ·          Have friends or family over for a potluck dinner ·          Plan a game night/day with cards or board games ·          See a matinee movie ·          Pick a recipe for a new food or cuisine that is not too expensive and make some new food at home ·     

Financial Tips from CCCS Staff - Part 1

CCCS of Buffalo provides financial education and financial literacy resources to the community. Our Mission: We provide our community with the best strategies to master their credit. Our Vision: We are the most recognized financial counseling agency in our community that minimizes the stigma associated with debt. Our Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Empowerment, Innovation Our staff at CCCS are committed to the collective mission of our agency, and we hope that these tips for financial success from our team may help you manage your finances in a better way!   “An easy way to pay off your mortgage early is to send in an extra payment each year.   That payment goes straight to principal.   You can save about nine years of mortgage payments!   It works the same way as a bi-weekly mortgage, but without the commitment.”             ~ Therese Melchiorre, Certified Financial Counselor   “Having trouble starting a savings fund?   Why not start little!   If you are a person wh

Free Weekly Credit Reports

  During the past year, many of us have been facing unprecedented challenges and financial uncertainty. It is important, for some now more than ever, to ensure that you are in good financial health and that the information on your credit reports is accurate. Many people are familiar with which is the only authorized site to get a completely free copy of each of your three credit reports once per year. The site is authorized by Federal Law. Because of these unprecedented times, everyone can now get free weekly credit reports through There are three different credit bureaus that report our credit history: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. It is important to check all three for accuracy, as some lenders may only report to one or two credit bureaus. This is a wonderful way to be able to stay on top of your credit reports, and gives you more opportunities to check in, especially if you are working to pay things down, or take car

COVID-19 Mortgage Relief Policies: Foreclosure and Forbearance

It has been a financial challenging year for many Americans, and with that a lot of effort has been expended trying to keep people in their homes by halting foreclosures and evictions. This is the latest update regarding COVID-19 mortgage relief: ·         If your home was in foreclosure prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a moratorium that keeps the foreclosure process from continuing. Currently there is a foreclosure moratorium on federally guaranteed mortgages through June 30, 2021 meaning homeowners are protected from the initiation or continuation of foreclosure proceedings. These mortgages make up about two-thirds of resident mortgage loans across the nation. ·          If the house you are living in foreclosed before the Pandemic and became a Bank owned property (REO), you cannot be evicted until after June 30, 2021. ·          The mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window was also extended through June 30, 2021. Payment forbearance allows hom
  Student Loans: Their Current State & What to do Next   At the onset of the pandemic, in anticipation of economic challenges and concerns looming for nearly 43 million loan borrowers, student loan assistance came when legislation passed within the CARES Act, providing a student loan payment pause and interest waiver through September 30, 2020 on federal education loans held by the U.S Department of Education. Fast forward over one year, three extensions later, and federal student loans are at a standstill. We want to recap the current relief that is available on student loans, as well share some strategies you can take now, and going forward as the relief expires. Current Relief Available: Interest and monthly payments on federally held loans are suspended through September 30, 2021. You do not need to contact your student loan servicer or take any action on your federally held student loans. Make sure your servicer has up-to-date contact information and

CCCS Offers FREE Counseling Services & FREE Virtual Workshops for Financial Literacy Month, Starting April 1st

Call 716-712-2060 or visit   The 1-year mark of the COVID 19 pandemic is upon us, and the impact has been heavy on people of all financial levels, particularly lower- and middle-income Americans. The toll of the damage has been vast, and the financial consequences may loom for years to come. Millions of Americans experienced unemployment and job loss for the first time, while many more have experienced hardship causing a range of economic challenges from the depletion of savings, to missing  loan payments, to housing insecurity. April also marks Financial Literacy Month , tax season, and the receipt of the third Economic Impact (Stimulus) Payment; an excellent opportunity to review your finances, gain financial knowledge, and improve your overall financial outlook. Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) announced today that it will offer free credit counseling services for the month of April; which will include “Financial Counseling”, “Financial C


  We know it can be scary to reach out for support. We want community members to know that they are not alone. Without paychecks to cover their bills and emergency funds to fall back on, many Americans have turned to credit to stay afloat. helps community members identify their debt situation and provides helpful next steps   Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo (CCCS) today launched a new project to help community members identify their debt challenge and to access tips, tools, and support. Research conducted by The Ohio State University demonstrates the positive client impact of nonprofit credit counseling . However, community members with debt challenges often reach out for credit counseling when they are already struggling with collections or are facing utilities shut off or even eviction. A better time for people to reach out is when they are making payments, but those payments are not measurably bringing down their balances . “ Our counsel

Helping America Achieve a Debt Free Future!

The COVID-19 Pandemic has led to hardships for our neighbors, communities and our nation. Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) continues to focus on coaching people through personal financial struggles and placing them on a path to achieve their short term and long term financial goals. CCCS took a pause on our expansion plans to focus on adjusting our operations to accommodate ease of efficient and effective remote work, but in 2021 we are strongly positioned to continue to expand throughout the U.S. so that we can help even more consumers who are in need of a trusted financial counseling organization. As of January, we now offer services to residents in Ohio! More to come. If you or someone you know needs assistance with creating a plan to becoming debt free, please call 1-800-926-9685 or (716) 712-2060. 

CCCS To Hold Free Workshop: “Keeping your Credit and Wallet Safe During COVID”

At Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS), we continue to see people of all financial levels suffering as a result of the pandemic. As the only local nonprofit that works with individuals and families to address financial challenges, CCCS sees the huge need we have for assistance in our region. Clients using CCCS’ one on one financial counseling services are able to access options for financial relief and receive much needed encouragement—and hope--during these turbulent times. Hundreds of Western New York residents have also benefitted from CCCS’ Free Virtual Workshops. CCCS will offer another in their ongoing workshop series on Tuesday January 19th at 5:00 pm: “Keeping your Credit and Wallet Safe During COVID”. Topics Include: • Credit Reporting • Managing Credit & Bills • Identifying & Protecting Against Scams Registration is required and can be completed here: :   For more information on the workshop or any CCCS services, please