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Is mortgage forbearance an option? Here's what to know

FILE - This Feb. 18, 2020, photo shows a real estate sign in front of a home for sale in San Francisco.  An estimated 4.1 million Americans have their mortgage in forbearance, according to data released Monday, May 18,  by the Mortgage Bankers Association.(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
FILE - This Feb. 18, 2020, photo shows a real estate sign in front of a home for sale in San Francisco. An estimated 4.1 million Americans have their mortgage in forbearance, according to data released Monday, May 18, by the Mortgage Bankers Association.(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Suddenly out of work or making due with reduced paychecks, an estimated 4.1 million Americans have sought forbearance on their mortgage, according to data released Monday by the Mortgage Bankers Association. That's a staggering number, and experts anticipate more homeowners will seek this protection as the economic impact of the coronavirus wears on.

A forbearance hits the pause button on mortgage payments. As part of its massive economic rescue package for the economy, Congress made it easier for homeowners to enter a forbearance plan and regain their financial footing.

Still, there are considerations for homeowners. Eventually the money must be paid, and homeowners with federally back loans have some advantages over those with private mortgages.

Here’s what they should know:

HOW DO I OBTAIN A FORBEARANCE?

If you feel forbearance is your best option, you need to know which company services your loan and which company owns it. They're not always one and the same.

The servicer is the company you make your payment to and get monthly statements from. You can typically find information on forbearance at the servicer’s website and can start the process there. If necessary, you can look up your servicer by searching the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems website.

Who owns the loan plays a role in what relief options are available to you.