FAQ: Dealing with My Bills

Questions about this month's bills

Many people are struggling financially as a result of the public health emergency and may need to prioritize which bills to pay first. If you aren’t able to pay some or all of your bills, check in with service providers about what options they offer.

Some may want you to document your hardship to qualify for special programs. Below is more information about some of the major relief programs.


Utility, water and telephone companies in New York State cannot shut off utilities, water or telephone service because of nonpayment during COVID-19 state of emergency. During this time, utilities, waterworks and telephone companies must allow customers to enter into deferred payment agreements without a down payment, late fees or penalties.

For 180 days after the COVID-19 emergency is lifted, utility, water and telephone companies cannot shut-off service due to non-payment if the customer experienced a financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.

Credit Cards/Debit Cards

New York urged banks to waive credit card late fees and overdraft fees for 90 days from March 21, 2020. If you feel that you were unfairly charged late fees or overdraft fees, learn more about filing a complaint with the NY Department of Financial Services. More information available here.

Learn more about asking your credit card company for help here.

Rent and Mortgage Payments

Click here to read our FAQs on evictions and foreclosure and mortgages.

Student Loans

I have other debt owed to New York State that is non-medical or non-student. What can I do?

Collection of medical and student-related debt owed to New York State is suspended until at least August 15. You can apply for temporary suspension of other debts you owe to New York State. Fill out the Office of the Attorney General’s COVID-19 Application for Suspension of Debt Collection Activity form. If you need further help, please call the Office of the Attorney General’s hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

Where can I go for more resources on managing my bills?

Click on the following links for additional help:

FAQ: Dealing with Debt Collection

A debt collector or creditor has threatened to take me to court. What can I expect?

If you have already received a Summons and Complaint or other papers in a debt collection action in a N.Y. state court, the deadline to serve and file an answer (or otherwise respond) has been extended until August 5, 2020. Contact Nassau Suffolk Law Services to see if you are eligible for assistance from the Consumer Debt Unit. The form to “answer” or respond to the Summon and Complaint is available here.

Other deadlines in “non-essential” cases, like debt collection, have been adjourned until August 5 as well. Check with the court for more guidance about any new deadlines.

While most debt collection cases are in N.Y. state court, if you owe money to the federal government that case will be in Federal Court. Check with the court for more information about deadlines in those cases.

In the meantime, you can contact the collectors to request a payment plan or extension. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers many resources for contacting and negotiating with debt collection companies.

My income is currently being garnished because of old consumer or medical debt. Can I stop the deductions from my paycheck?

It may be possible to stop your pay from being garnished by filing an order to show cause. More information about options for vacating a wage garnishment order is available here. Contact Nassau Suffolk Law Services to see if you are eligible for assistance. Self-help forms are also available here.

I received a notice from the sheriff that they will start garnishing my income. What can I do?

Wage garnishment to pay private debt has not been suspended at this point. The usual process for garnishments can be found here.

My income is being garnished to pay federal student loans or taxes. Will I get any relief?

Yes. The seizure of tax refunds, the reduction of any other federal benefit payments, and other involuntary collection efforts to satisfy federally backed student loans or federal income taxes is suspended. Please see the New York Times article about the "F.A.Q. on Stimulus Checks, Unemployment and the Coronavirus Bill."

Last updated July 28, 2020. The situation is changing rapidly. Please check back for updates.

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