What the experts say
A break on loan payments
Your consumer lender might be willing to let you skip payments interest-free during this crisis, said Ron Lieber in The New York Times. Goldman Sachs, “a punching bag during the last economic catastrophe,” has led the way in easing consumers’ obligations. Earlier this month, Goldman, which partners with Apple on the Apple credit card, told customers that they could skip their March bill and the bank would “foot the bill itself” for any interest; it has extended that promise to customers of Marcus, its personal loan unit. I asked other financial companies if they would match this. American Express and Capital One said yes “right away.” Discover said customers could skip a payment, but they would still accrue interest. Some companies, though, told me they were not willing to help. Among them: auto lending giant Ally Bank, despite the federal bailout it got during the last financial crisis.
Price gouging surges nationwide
Consumer watchdogs nationwide have received more than 5,000 reports about price gouging and other scams from merchants, said Reese Dunklin and Justin Pritchard in the Associated Press, with “hundreds more arriving daily.” That doesn’t even include California, which has not released the state’s complaints data. A store in Tennessee was found by authorities to be charging $1 for a squirt of hand sanitizer, while in Maine, a convenience store was selling toilet paper for $10 a roll. Pennsylvania “created an email address dedicated to complaints,” and Oregon launched a “price-gouging hotline.” Michigan’s attorney general issued a cease-and-desist letter to the home improvement chain Menard’s, which was accused of “doubling the price of a gallon of Clorox bleach to $8.99 and offering 3M respirator masks for an ‘everyday low price’ of $39.95 a pair—more than four times what Home Depot advertised.”
New July 15 tax deadline
“Americans will have an additional three months to file their taxes amid the coronavirus pandemic,” said Kevin Liptak in CNN.com. Last week the Treasury Department set a July 15 deadline for both filing and payments. However, the U.S. said that tax refunds will still be sent out normally, so if you expect to get one, you’re still encouraged to file as early as possible. Also, so far the rule “applies to federal tax income payments only.” State extensions may vary; California, for instance, has extended its state deadlines to June 15.