Publications

Debt Management Insights for Distressed Borrowers: Credit Counseling and Loan Forbearances Post-COVID


Empirical Working Paper

Report Summary


The first major empirical analysis to focus primarily on consumers who sought assistance in managing credit card debts during the pandemic finds that more consumers obtained short-term payment relief on their credit cards than for any other type of loan except student debt, where forbearances were mandated by federal law.

The study also finds evidence that pandemic relief initiatives may have reduced damage to the credit scores and records of consumers who sought long-term assistance through credit counseling and debt management programs. Future research will explore whether these patterns affect the speed and extent of their financial recovery.

This report is the first phase of a longer project that will evaluate alternative repayment plan structures and data and technology pilot initiatives by nonprofit counseling agencies as a springboard for considering broader market and policy changes. FinRegLab is collaborating with researchers from The Ohio State University and Charles River Associates to analyze data from pilot programs organized by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and other sources.

This working paper is an update of research published in January 2023.

Acknowledgments


This empirical working paper is part of a broader research project organized by FinRegLab and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling to evaluate data, technology, and other innovations’ potential to help consumers recover more quickly from personal and economic crisis such as COVID-19.

The independent empirical research in this report has been conducted in collaboration with:

Dr. Marsha Courchane

Vice President, Practice Leader of Financial Economics
Charles River Associates

Dr. Adam Gailey

Principal, Financial Economics Practice
Charles River Associates

Connor Tragesser

Charles River Associates

Dr. Stephanie Moulton

John Glenn College of Public Policy at The Ohio State University

Sungmin Park

John Glenn College of Public Policy at The Ohio State University

Matthew Pesavento

John Glenn College of Public Policy at The Ohio State University

Rebecca Xie

John Glenn College of Public Policy at The Ohio State University

We would like to thank individuals who provided valuable feedback on this report. They include:

David Silberman

Advisor

Conrod Robinson

Risk Management Executive

We would also like to acknowledge FinRegLab team members who worked on convenings, interviews, and reports related to this project. They include:

Kelly Thompson Cochran

Deputy Director and Chief Program Officer
FinRegLab

Colin Foos

FinRegLab

Gillous Harris

Research Analyst
FinRegLab

Zishun Zhao

Senior Data Scientist
FinRegLab

With Support From


Bank of America

is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses, and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 67 million consumer and small business clients with approximately 4,000 retail financial centers, approximately 16,000 ATMs and awardwinning digital banking with approximately 55 million verified digital users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business households through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations across the United States, its territories and approximately 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (ATMs) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Capital One Financial Corporation

(www.capitalone.com) is a financial holding company which had $307.9 billion in deposits and $440.3 billion in total assets as of June 30, 2022. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses, and commercial clients through a variety of channels. Capital One, N.A. has branches located primarily in New York, Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “COF” and is included in the S&P 100 index.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

(NYSE: JPM) is a leading financial services firm based in the United States of America (“U.S.”), with operations worldwide. JPMorgan Chase had $3.9 trillion in assets and $313 billion in stockholders’ equity as of June 30, 2023. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing and asset management. Under the J.P. Morgan and Chase brands, the Firm serves millions of customers in the U.S., and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients globally. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.

LendingClub Corporation

(NYSE: LC) is the parent companyof LendingClub Bank, National Association, Member FDIC. LendingClub Bank is the leading digital marketplace bank in the U.S., where members can access a broad range of financial products and services designed to help them pay less when borrowing and earn more when saving. Based on more than 150 billion cells of data and over $75 billion in loans, our advanced credit decisioning and machine-learning models are used across the customer lifecycle to expand seamless access to credit for our members, while generating compelling risk-adjusted returns for our loan investors. Since 2007, more than 4 million members have joined the Club to help reach their financial goals. For more information about LendingClub, visit https://www.lendingclub.com.

Synchrony

is a premier consumer financial services company delivering one of the industry’s most complete digitally-enabled product suites. The company’s experience, expertise and scale encompass a broad spectrum of industries including digital, health and wellness, retail, telecommunications, home, auto, outdoor, pet and more. They have an established and diverse group of national and regional retailers, local merchants, manufacturers, buying groups, industry associations and healthcare service providers, which we refer to as our “partners.” They connect our partners and consumers through our dynamic financial ecosystem and provide them with a diverse set of financing solutions and innovative digital capabilities to address their specific needs and deliver seamless, omnichannel experiences. We offer the right financing products to the right customers in their channel of choice.

TD Bank

America’s Most Convenient Bank®, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing over 9.8 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,100 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Auto Finance, a division of TD Bank, N.A., offers vehicle financing and dealer commercial services. TD Bank and its subsidiaries also offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. To learn more, visit www.td.com/us. Find TD Bank on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDBank and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US and www.twitter.com/TDNews_US. TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol “TD”. To learn more, visit www.td.com/us.

The Wells Fargo Foundation

The Wells Fargo Foundation is a private foundation that is funded by Wells Fargo & Company. In the communities we serve, we focus our social impact on building a sustainable, inclusive future for all by supporting housing affordability, small business growth, financial health, and a low carbon economy. News, insights, and perspectives from Wells Fargo are available at Wells Fargo Stories. Additional information may be found at www.wellsfargo.com | Twitter: @WellsFargo

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About FinregLab

FinRegLab is an independent, nonprofit organization that conducts research and experiments with new technologies and data to drive the financial sector toward a responsible and inclusive marketplace. The organization also facilitates discourse across the financial ecosystem to inform public policy and market practices. To receive periodic updates on the latest research, subscribe to FRL’s newsletter and visit www.finreglab.org. Follow FinRegLab on LinkedIn and Twitter (X).

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