A. Financial Relief Resources
1. CARES Act for Consumers
The CARES Act, the Federal stimulus bill passed in response to the COVID-19 crisis, provides several relief measures designed to support consumers. Keep reading for a summary of the CARES Act consumer-related
Stimulus Checks to Individuals
Most American adults will receive stimulus funds from the U.S. government in the coming weeks. The amount of funds for each adult will vary based on a number of factors.
Use this calculator published by the Washington Post to estimate your stimulus funds.
- Eligibility of payment
- If you filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019 or receive Social Security retirement, survivors, or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, or Railroad Retirement benefits:
- According to the IRS, most people; including taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019 and most seniors and retirees will receive the stimulus funds via direct deposit to their checking account.
- If you don’t normally file taxes, or had gross income that did not exceed $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples) for 2019:
- For those who don’t normally file a tax return, the process is simple and only takes a few minutes to complete. First, visit IRS.gov, and look for “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here”. Then provide basic information including Social
Security number, name, address, and dependents. Entering bank or financial account information will allow the IRS to deposit your payment directly in your account. The IRS will use this information to confirm eligibility and calculate
and send an Economic Impact Payment.
Read more about Economic Impact Payment eligibility.
- To set up a direct deposit, you will need to submit your bank account details, including First Merchants routing number 074900657 and your account number, along with other information. Check IRS.gov for the latest information.
- Check the status of your payment
- To help everyone check on the status of their payments, the IRS is building a second new tool expected to be available for use by April 17 called “Get My Payment”. Get My Payment will provide people with the status of their payment,
including the date their payment is scheduled to be deposited into their bank account or mailed to them.
- An additional feature on Get My Payment will allow eligible people a chance to provide their bank account information so they can receive their payment more quickly rather than waiting for a paper check. This feature will be unavailable if
the Economic Impact Payment has already been scheduled for delivery. Check the IRS.gov website often for up-to-date information about stimulus checks.
- How to know if your stimulus payment has been deposited into your First Merchants account
- Receiving a check in the mail
- If you receive a check in the mail, you must be a customer with a checking or savings account at First Merchants to cash your check at one of our banking centers. If you expect to receive a check in the mail and need to open a checking account,
you can open an account online in about 10 minutes.
- Unfortunately, COVID-19 related scams and fraud are on the rise. Please be extra careful and mindful of fraudsters when it comes to your stimulus funds. Do not fall for phone calls, texts, emails or websites that ask for personal or financial information
in order to receive the stimulus check. Read about how to keep yourself safe from fraud and scams.
The CARES Act has also made relief available to individuals. For First Merchants mortgage clients, your options depend on whether your mortgage is backed (owned) by the federal government or not.
- What mortgage relief options do you qualify for?
Your mortgage relief options depend on who owns or backs your mortgage. Here we’ll explain how to find out what you qualify for.
1. If you make payments it First Merchants, then we are your mortgage servicer. Contact us to request mortgage assistance.
Your mortgage servicer is the company that you send your mortgage payments to each month.
If you don’t know or can’t remember who currently services your mortgage, there are several ways to find out, including looking at your mortgage statement for contact information.
Click here to find out who owns or services your mortgage.
2. Second, figure out if your mortgage is federally backed.
To be eligible for protections under the CARES Act your mortgage must be federally owned or otherwise backed by one of the federal agencies and entities listed below. If you don’t know who owns or backs your mortgage, you can call your servicer.
List of federal agencies and entities that back mortgages:
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- U. S. Department of Agriculture
- USDA Direct
- USDA Guaranteed
- Federal Housing Administration
(FHA) (Includes reverse mortgages)
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- Fannie Mae
- Freddie Mac
Nearly half of the nation’s mortgages are owned or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
To look up online whether your mortgage is owned or backed by Fannie or Freddie, click these links:
- Is my loan backed by Fannie Mae?
- Is my loan backed by Freddie Mac?
You can look up who owns your mortgage online or call First Merchants to find out whether your mortgage is government-backed.
- CARES Act Relief and Mortgage Options
If your mortgage is a federally backed mortgage, you have two mortgage relief options under the CARES Act:
First, your lender or loan servicer may not foreclose on you for 60 days after March 18, 2020. Specifically, the CARES Act prohibits lenders and servicers from beginning a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure against you, or from finalizing a foreclosure
judgment or sale, during this period of time.
Second, if you experience financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, you have a right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days. You also have the right to request one extension for another up to 180 days. You must contact your loan servicer,
First Merchants, to request this forbearance. There will be no additional fees, penalties or additional interest (beyond scheduled amounts) added to your account. You do not need to submit additional documentation to qualify other than your claim
to have a pandemic-related financial hardship. Complete this online form to request assistance now.
If your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac:
In addition to the foreclosure moratorium and forbearance, if you are granted forbearance to delay making your monthly payments during this temporary period:
- You won’t incur late
- You won’t have delinquencies reported to credit reporting companies
- Foreclosure and other legal proceedings will be suspended
- Borrowers with a mortgage serviced by First Merchants and not backed by the federal government
If you have a mortgage loan that is not backed by one of the federal agencies or entities listed above, you have options available as well.
Homeowners with a First Merchants Bank owned loan are eligible for payment extensions for 90 days (3 payments), with an additional 90 days (3 payments) available if needed without impacting your credit report or incurring late fees during the deferral
period. There are no fees or additional charges for requesting an extension agreement.
A payment extension allows the borrower to “extend” the maturity of their loan and add the current month’s principal payment to the end of the loan agreement. The borrower then “skips” making the designated payment(s).
The interest will still accrue and the customer will pay the accrued interest when they resume making their regular monthly payments. The loan does not show as past due for any payments that are “extended or skipped”.
First Merchants will not initiate foreclosure actions for residential properties for the next 60 days.
Please complete this online form to request mortgage assistance.
Consumer Lending Help Options for Home Equity Loans, Auto Loans and Consumer
If you have been impacted by COVID-19, you may request to defer payments up to 90 days on your First Merchants installment loans, auto loans, home equity loans (HELOC) without impacting your credit report or incurring
late fees during the deferral period. The bank is also suspending vehicle repossessions for the next 60 days.
Please complete this online form to request assistance.
Tax Deadline Change
The 2019 tax return filing deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020. For more information, visit the IRS: Coronavirus Tax Relief website.
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) Improvements
The CARES Act improves Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to make them more versatile by covering telehealth services and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
Federal Student Loan Deferrals
The CARES Act allows the Department of Education to defer payments, principal and interest for federal student loans for the next 6 months without penalty to the borrower. This applies only
to federal student loans, not private loans. For more information, visit the Department of Education: Federal Student Aid website.
Early Withdrawal of Retirement Funds1
The CARES Act eliminates the 10% early withdrawal penalty for distributions up to $100,000 for coronavirus-related purposes, retroactive to Jan. 1.
Read more about the CARES Act programs for business.
2. Options for Fees
We know you may have concerns about fees such as overdraft, insufficient fund, service and maintenance fees on your accounts. If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 and are concerned about account fees, please call
us at 1.800.205.3464 or
contact your local banker.
B. Access to Cash
For your safety, we recommend keeping large cash reserves in the bank and not in your home. Your deposits at FDIC-insured banks, including First Merchants, will continue to be protected up to $250,000. If you find that you need to make a cash
withdrawal, in addition to our drive-thru services, be assured you have access to cash 24/7 through our wide ATM network, including more than 25,000 free ATMs throughout the country using MoneyPass.
C. Set up direct deposit of Social Security and federal benefits
With Direct Deposit, your paycheck, pension or Social Security check can be automatically deposited into your First Merchants checking account. The quickest way to sign up for direct deposit is to contact your employer, government agency or
other agency issuing you a check. They will provide the proper forms and instructions. You will need to submit your bank account details, including First Merchants routing number 074900657 and your account number, along with other information.
D. Frequently Asked Questions
As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 situation together, we have collected many of our clients’ frequently asked questions (FAQs) along with their answers. As always, if you have questions that are not addressed below, or need
further assistance, please call First Merchants Customer Service at 1-800-205-3464 or your local banking center. Find your banking center’s phone number.
1Not to be construed as tax advice. Please consult your attorney or tax adviser