Skip to main content

Everything Else

For the most up-to-date information about resources to help you and your family through this challenging time, please register for our enews.


5/20/20 - NEW Emergency Cash Flow Counseling & Online Booking

Introducing Emergency Cash Flow Counseling

OnTrack WNC is excited to start offering a new service to the community - Free Emergency Cash Flow counseling. This service is available to people in Western North Carolina who:

  • Have experienced a reduction in income because of COVID-19; or
  • Do not have enough income to cover their expenses.

We hope you will bookmark our screening form and share it with others!

Please bookmark our screening form so that you can easily access it when talking with someone who could benefit from our service or for you to have on hand in case this would help you. 

How is this different from OnTrack WNC’s services before COVID-19?

In the past, our education and counseling focused on helping people create monthly budgets accounting for each and every expense. The pandemic has dramatically changed many people’s income and expenses. We also realize that many who are working still don’t make enough money to afford their monthly bills. We created this service to help. Emergency Cash Flow Counseling will help people:

  • Create a two-month cash plan to make sure the most important expenses and bills are covered.
  • Figure out how to reduce expenses or increase income to make ends meet.
  • Take a look at a person’s debt, determine what to pay and how much, and evaluate other debt payment strategies available from creditors during COVID-19.
  • Make choices about how to make their plan work in real life and not just on paper.

But Wait! There’s More: Our New Online Screening and Zoom Counseling

Since our staff is working remotely because of COVID-19, things are a little different in our process.  Here is how it works:

  • Step 1: People can click www.ontrackwnc.org/screening-questions and fill out our quick online Screening Form. 
  • Step 2: Once we receive their Screening Form, our team will review it to determine the next best step with our services.
  • Step 3: For Emergency Cash Flow counseling, we will send the client a link to a secure online Counseling Form with more detailed financial questions. The answers to these questions will help the counselor to prepare before the session to make the best use of the appointment time.
  • Step 4: After we receive the completed Counseling Form, our team will send a link to the client to book an online Zoom appointment with us. Clients will be able to see all the available dates and times to pick the one that works best for their schedule.
  • Step 5: At the appointment time, the client will use the Zoom link we provide to connect with their counselor. This ability to connect face to face and share documents and screens will enhance the appointment as the counselor and client work collaboratively on their budget in real time during the session.
  • NOTE: We have the option of phone appointments for people who do not have adequate access to phone, tablet, or computer technology and internet to do a Zoom appointment.

Update: 5/20/20 - Free Legal Hotline May 21 from 8 am to 2 pm

Get Answers to Your COVID-19-Related Legal Questions

Pisgah Legal Services, Legal Aid of NC, the NC Bar Foundation and the Buncombe County Bar Association are teaming up to provide a free legal guidance hotline to businesses, nonprofits, and individuals that have been impacted by the pandemic.

  • The event is on May 21, from 8 am to 2 pm.
  • Call the hotline at (828) 560-3700.
  • 100 lawyers will be answering questions on topics including eviction, bankruptcy, foreclosure, accessing unemployment and other public benefits, and other legal issues related to meeting one’s basic needs. 
  • Attorneys will also be available to take calls from small business owners and nonprofit leaders facing challenges due to COVID-19.
  • Those who need more long-term assistance may receive continued support from Pisgah Legal Services and Legal Aid.  
  • This is open to residents of any of the 18 counties in WNC.

Update: 5/7/20 - Free Weekly Credit Reports

Protecting Your Credit During COVID-19

With fraud and identity theft on the rise as a result of COVID-19, now it is more important than ever to pay attention to your credit report.

Pull Your Credit Report Weekly FOR FREE through April 2021

  • Experian, Transunion, and Equifax are now offering free weekly online credit reports, continuing through April 2021.
  • Your weekly reports can be pulled through the only truly free website, www.annualcreditreport.com.   
  • You might wonder why this doesn’t include a free score. Scores are used by lenders to determine your credit worthiness for getting a loan. When reviewing your credit report for any potential fraud or errors, there is no need to see your score.

Check Your Credit Report Carefully for Fraud

After pulling your reports, check them to make sure:

  • You recognize every account and your identifying information is correct.
  • Any credit inquiries were approved by you.
  • Any account in forbearance or deferment is being reported as current, as required by the CARES Act, if it was in good standing before any pandemic-related concessions were made.

Dispute Errors and Report Fraud

  • If you see errors on your credit report, you can dispute them. Here’s how
  • If an error suggests identity theft — such as addresses you don’t recognize or accounts you don’t recognize — report it here

Update: 4/24/20 - Health Insurance After Job Loss + Student Loan Relief for Federal & Private Loans

Health Insurance After You Lose Your Job 

If you have lost your health insurance as a result of job loss, there are different options to help you stay insured.

Keep Your Employer’s Coverage Through COBRA or NC State Continuation Coverage

  • COBRA allows you to keep health insurance for up to 18 months after you lose your job.
  • You can stay with your current provider but will have to pay the full premium.
  • Talk to your employer about options for this.

Get Coverage Through the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace

  • You may be able to apply if you qualify for a “special enrollment period” due to losing your coverage through work.
  • You have 60 days after losing employer coverage to apply.
  • Pisgah Legal Services offers free local help to understand your options with the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace. Learn more here

Apply for Medicaid

  • Families with dependent children may qualify if income has decreased significantly such that it falls under program limits. Other individuals may qualify under specific circumstances.
  • You can apply online to see if you’re eligible here.

If Married, Try to Get Coverage Through Your Spouse’s Employer

  • Contact your spouse's employer to see if you are eligible to join their plan. Make sure to check the cost of the extra coverage and compare it with other options.

If You’re 65 or Older, Sign up for Medicare (or add Part B)

  • Council on Aging offers free local help to understand your options with Medicare. Learn more here
  • Alternatively, you can sign up through the Social Security website even if you're not ready to take Social Security. 
  • To add Part B, you must apply within 8 months after you leave your job and lose employer coverage to apply.

Read More Here

  • AARP Article
  • CNN Article
  • Even better, check out the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace’s Coronavirus page

Student Loan Payments Suspended for Government Backed Loans and Options for Private Student Loans

Federal Student Loan Payment Suspension and Interest Set to 0%

  • The Cares Act passed on March 30th has put an automatic suspension on all federally backed student loans and set the interest rate to 0% from March 13, 2020 to September 30, 2020. This means that people with those loans do not have to make payments and no interest will be accruing on the loan during that time.
  • Auto-debit payments will be suspended during this time. If your loan qualifies and your servicer does not suspend your payment, contact them. Additionally, you can be reimbursed for any payments auto-deducted during this time period.
  • This does not apply to all student loans. Some FFEL loans are backed by private lenders and some Perkins Loans are owned by the college attended and may not be included in the Cares Act. If you are unsure if your Perkins or FFEL Program Loans qualify, go to your student loan account online to check.
  • Read more here.

Assistance for Some FFEL & Perkins Loans and Other Private Student Loans

If your FFEL Program Loans are not eligible for the concessions of the CARES Act, we recommend you:

  • Ask your servicer if a forbearance is an option. Your interest will still accrue, but this is an easy option to sign up for by talking with your servicer and will give you time to get in a more stable financial position.
  • Ask for an unemployment deferment if your work hours have been cut to below 30 hours a week or you’ve lost your job due to COVID-19. For some loans, interest will not accrue in that program.
  • Look into a consolidation of your FFEL loan into a Direct Loan Program to access the 0% interest and six-moth payment freeze. Cautions: If working towards loan forgiveness, this may not be a good option and consolidation takes 45 to 60 days to complete. Consolidation also takes 45-60 days to complete and your interest rate could end up higher with the new loan. Read more here.

For other private loans, we suggest you follow up with the servicer to see what options they are giving for the COVID-19 pandemic. Several private student loan servicers are offering options. Read more here.  


Update: 4/21/20 - Tax Filing & Prep

Free and Safe Online Tax Prep – OnTrack WNC Program Closed for Duration of Tax Season

  • In response to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, we suspended our tax season on March 17. Since then, we have shifted our agency’s focus to providing emergency programming to support those experiencing financial hardship.
  • As this emergency programming requires all our capacity, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the rest of our tax season. We will not be opening again for the 2019 tax season.
  • For information on how to file your taxes online, find another free tax preparation program, or information about filing to receive your stimulus payment, visit our tax page here.
  • The good news: The IRS and North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) have extended their tax filing deadlines until July 15. More details on their announcements can be found here (IRS) and here (NCDOR).
  • IRS taxpayers have the option of suspending all payments on existing installment agreements and offers in compromise until July 15, 2020, though interest will continue to accrue.
  • The IRS is suspending most new collection activities and garnishments during this period.
  • Get updates on the IRS response to COVID-19, here.

Update: 4/20/20 - Crisis Times are Breeding Grounds for Scams. What to Watch Out For.

Defend Yourself Against Scams

The Best Defense Is to Not Give Any Information. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says that the best defense against scammers is to say NO if anyone contacts you and asks for personal information.

  • Don’t provide your Social Security number, bank account number, credit card information, Medicare ID number, driver’s license number or any other personally identifiable information when solicited by phone, text, social media, email, or in person.
  • If the person contacting you identifies as someone from a company where you conduct financial business, contact that business directly (by calling a phone number you know is legitimate; not the number the person contacting you provided) and ask if the request for information is legitimate.
  • Report scams with the Federal Trade Commission here, by calling -877-5-NO-SCAM, or with the NC Department of Justice here.

How Scammers are Trying to Contact You

  • Email. Do not open emails that look suspicious. And do not trust emails asking you to take an action such as to click a link, open an attachment, call a provider, or send personal information. If you think it is from a provider you trust, search for the institution online and find a contact number to call and ask for verification that the communication is valid. Before opening an attachment or clicking on a link in an email, ask yourself: Do you know who sent it? and Were you expecting it from them? If not, don’t click the link or open the document.
  • Robocalls and Phone calls. If you receive an automated robocall (a call that sounds like a computer-generated voice) or a call from a person you don’t know or weren’t expecting to hear from, hang up. Don’t say anything or engage, just hang up.
  • Text. If you receive a text from someone you don’t know or someone soliciting you for business or money, do not respond to the text. 
  • In person and via social media. If someone you don’t know contacts you to sell you something or asks for personal information, do not provide payment or any personally identifiable information as they may use it to scam you.

Common Scams to Watch Out For

Stimulus Check Scams
Stimulus check scams are happening in different ways. Know the following and steer clear of a scam:

  • The U.S. government won’t be calling, texting, or emailing people individually to ask them to verify their bank account details or other personal information.
  • There is no processing or setup fee necessary to receive this payment.
  • Do not sign over your stimulus check to anyone promising you something better.
  • It is not possible to receive a tax refund or stimulus check any faster by paying a person or service to help you. If someone says they can do that, they are a scammer.
  • If you receive a paper check, all you need to do is deposit it in your bank account. If you receive information otherwise (such as guidance to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it) that is a scam.   

Social Security Fraud
Fraudulent letters are being sent that threaten suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19 or coronavirus-related office closures. The letters tell the recipient to call to get the money reinstated and then scammers steal personal information or money. 

  • The Social Security Administration (SSA) will not suspend or discontinue benefits because their offices are closed. Any communication you receive that says SSA will do this is a scam. 
  • Report Social Security scams here.

Fake COVID-19 Charity Scams

  • A charity scam is when a thief poses as a real charity or makes up the name of a charity that sounds real to get money from you.
  • Be careful about any charity calling you asking for donations. If you want to make a donation to a specific charity, reach out to them to make that donation.

Person in Need or Imposter Scams

  • Some scammers are using the circumstances of COVID-19 to pose as a grandchild, relative, or friend who claims to be ill, stranded in another state or foreign country, or otherwise in trouble and asks you to send money.
  • If you receive such a call, hang up and call your grandchild, relative or friend’s phone number to see if the story checks out.

Be Aware About Price Gouging. You are Protected.

  • North Carolina’s price gouging law is in effect, which makes it illegal to charge too much during a crisis for items.
  • If you think there is a case of price gouging, contact NC Department of Justice at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM, or by clicking here.

Stay Up-to-Date on the Latest Frauds

AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.
Sign up here for the latest information on frauds and scams to keep you and your loved ones safe.

NC Attorney General’s Office.
Sign up here for alerts about new scams. 

Want More Information

Helpful links and articles

  • NC Department of Justice Consumer coronavirus update.
  • Attorney General Josh Stein’s coronavirus scam guide.
  • Consumer Finance Protection Bureau blog and article about scams.

Helping to manage someone’s money and need guidance?

  • Check in by phone or video chat. Stay in touch to know how they’re handling things and so they know you’re thinking about them.
  • Ask questions. If your loved one mentions concerns about money or has spotted unusual activity in their accounts, ask for details. Older adults and their family members can learn about common types of scams, as well as how to avoid and report them by checking out the Pass it On and Money Smart for Older Adults programs.
  • Financial caregivers: learn more about your responsibilities. The CFPB’s Managing Someone Else’s Money guides can help you understand your role as a fiduciary. Each guide explains your responsibilities, and how to spot financial exploitation and avoid scams.

Update: 3/31/20 - Tax Filing & Prep

Free and Safe Online Tax Prep – OnTrack WNC Program Temporarily Closed

  • Due to the risk of COVID-19, we are temporarily closing our tax program.
  • You can use this link to find a free or low-cost option to file your taxes online. Be sure to use the link, as you’ll likely be directed to a site that charges a fee if you do an online search.
  • The good news: The IRS and North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) have extended their tax filing deadlines until July 15. More details on their announcements can be found here (IRS) here (NCDOR).
  • IRS taxpayers have the option of suspending all payments on existing installment agreements and offers in compromise until July 15, 2020, though interest will continue to accrue.
  • The IRS is suspending most new collection activities and garnishments during this period.
  • Get updates on the IRS response to COVID-19, here.

Update: 3/26/20 - Student Loan Help

Your Student Loans and COVID-19

Here are important changes from the Department of Education that affect federal student loans as a result of COVID-19:

  • All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for at least 60 days.
  • Each borrower has the option to suspend their payments (this is called administrative forbearance) for at least 60 days.  
  • Want to request an administrative forbearance? Contact your servicer online or by phone.
  • Learn more here.

___________________________________________________________________________

  • The Department of Education has stopped all wage garnishment and withholdings from federal income tax refunds, Social Security payments, or other federal payments for default borrowers as of March 13th and for a period of at least 60 days.
  • Next Step: If you are having your wages garnished for federal student loan default, it is the responsibility of your employer to stop the garnishment.  Follow-up with them directly.
  • Read the full March 25th press release here.

If you have had a reduction in income, you may want to consider an income-driven repayment plan. 

  • Need a more affordable payment? Contact your servicer to see if there is a payment plan with an affordable payment plan with your new income. 
  • Anna Booraem
    Anna Booraem
  • Shanae Johnson
    Shanae Johnson
  • Wayne & Jodi Mott
    Wayne & Jodi Mott
  • William Raynor
    William Raynor
  • Lucia Daugherty
    Lucia Daugherty
  • Julie Perley
    Julie Perley
  • Bailey Gartman
    Bailey Gartman
  • Diana Honeycut
    Diana Honeycut
  • Lisa Gaskin
    Lisa Gaskin
  • Carmen Govea
    Carmen Govea
  • Kelly Jackson
    Kelly Jackson
  • Jordan Barlow
    Jordan Barlow
  • Susan Mosley
    Susan Mosley
  • Jessica Turner and Robert Forbes
    Jessica Turner and Robert Forbes
  • Amber Williams
    Amber Williams
  • Emily and Jordan Stanley
    Emily and Jordan Stanley
  • Marie Collins
    Marie Collins
  • Brittany Ferguson
    Brittany Ferguson
  • Latoya Gardner
    Latoya Gardner