Consumer Protection

Banking relief. The chairman of the Financial Services Committee, under the leadership of Speaker DeLeo, sent a letter to the Commissioner of Banks in Massachusetts asking her to take emergency measures to protect residents. He specifically mentioned offering forbearance for mortgages, suspending debt collection activities, suspending small business credit payments, car payments, student loan payments and other debts, suspending evictions and foreclosures, and imposing a moratorium on all negative credit reporting. In response, the Division of Banks issued an order directing that institutions implement all reasonable and necessary change to provide relief to those adversely impacted borrowers during this state of emergency, and continuing thereafter, as necessary. These actions include, but are not limited to: Postponing foreclosures for 60 days; Forbearing mortgage payments for 60 or more days from their due dates; Waiving late payment fees and any online payment fees for a period of 60 days; Refraining from reporting late payments to credit rating agencies for 60 days; Offering borrowers an additional 60-day grace period to complete trial loan modifications, and ensuring that late payments during the COVID-19 pandemic do not affect their ability to obtain permanent loan modifications; Ensuring that borrowers do not experience a disruption of service if the mortgage servicer closes its office, including making available other avenues for borrowers to continue to manage their accounts and to make inquiries; and Proactively reaching out to borrowers to explain the above-listed assistance being offered. To read the full text of the order, click here.

Price-gouging. The Attorney General’s Office promulgated an emergency regulation that addresses price gouging of necessary goods and services during the current public health crisis. The office has received numerous reports of extremely inflated prices for goods like hand sanitizer, face masks, and gloves.  Shortages of such goods have been reported across the country, placing a critical strain on members of the public as well as hospitals and medical facilities that rely on these essential products to protect their medical workers from infection and prevent the spread of disease. You can view the text of the regulation by clicking here.