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Many people are being greeted with the same message when they contact their mortgage company or bank at this time. People are being communicated they can put off payment for three months and then pay it all back the fourth month.

We spoke to a couple who are concerned this message could be misleading, and we spoke to an expert who set the record straight about the situation.

Cancellation after cancellation, that’s the new reality for Frank Clarke, a local handyman, and his wife Lyne Clarke.

“I can’t support us with just my income you know,” Frank said.

So Lyne hit the computer, trying to see where and how they can save money on payments.

The message on her mortgage company’s website: “The forbearance plan available at this time allows borrowers experiencing a temporary hardship to make no mortgage payments for three months. The deferred payments will be due at the end of the three-month plan.”

“I just don’t understand how that’s supposed to help anyone in this situation,” Lyne said. [Because] at the end of three months, you’re not going to have any more money if you’re not working than you did three months ago.”

But the “CARES Act” the president signed last month allows most homeowners to put off their mortgage payments for a full year.

They just need to call their lender or bank every 90 days.

“You can add on the payments to the end of the mortgage,” said John Silvia, the former chief economist for Wells Fargo. “Or you can define some mortgage payment a little bit above your average mortgage payment to make up the difference.”

Silvia told us, while this program only applies to federally-backed mortgages, that covers 70% of outstanding loans.

“The other 30% will probably go along if only for competitive reasons,” Silvia said.

Lyne told us her mortgage company promised to get back to her soon.

Choosing to enter into a forbearance plan will not affect your credit score. And, if you’re not sure if your mortgage is federally backed, visit the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac websites.

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Reporter:Morgan Rynor
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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