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Need to delay your bills during the coronavirus outbreak? DoNotPay says it can help

por Franklyn Wolken (2020-07-07)

4 hours agoid="article-body" class="row" section="article-body">

DoNotPay says it can help delay payments and waive late fees on rent, credit card and utility bills.

Angela Lang/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.
If you've suffered financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic and need more time to pay your bills, a service called DoNotPay claims it may be able to help. The tool is essentially an online chatbot designed to access national, state and local laws to help you with legal tasks ranging from contesting a parking ticket to filing a small claims court case and -- now -- identifying financial relief that's available to you as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

In addition to the $1,200 stimulus payment most Americans will receive, private companies are offering help and government agencies from city councils to the US Congress have passed a number of measures to assist Americans in weathering the financial turmoil caused by the pandemic. It can get confusing trying to keep track of which ones apply to you, but DoNotPay says it can cut through all the red tape for you.

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If you need to ask your landlord, creditors or utilities for a payment extension or to waive a late fee and want to give DoNotCall a try, here's everything you need to know about how to sign up and use the service. 

Please note that CNET has neither used nor endorses this service. The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Always consult a lawyer or other qualified legal professional regarding any questions you may have about a legal issue or objective.

DoNotPay offers a variety of legal services, but if you're looking for financial relief due to the coronavirus pandemic, you'll want to choose Corona Relief.

Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET

You'll need a mobile number and debit card
To get started with DoNotPay, you'll need to provide a mobile number that will serve as your login, an email address and a debit card number. The service says it will credit you if it's able to save you any money. 

DoNotPay also asks for a $3 per month "donation" to help cover operating costs, but says it won't start charging you until after you've saved some money with the service. You can cancel at any time.

DoNotPay requires you to enter a debit card number during signup to receive any refunds the service can get for you as well as to start paying a $3 per month "donation" once the site saves you some money.

James Martin/CNET

Logging into DoNotPay requires two-factor authentication by default, so you'll have to have your phone handy and look for a verification code every time you sign in.

How to talk to the chatbot

Talking to the DoNotPay chatbot mostly involves selecting from a limited number of predetermined responses.

Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET

DoNotCall has been around for about three years now, so there's a lot more to it than COVID-19 relief assistance. To get specifically to that, you'll need to scroll down about midway to the section on Protection Products, then in the box labeled Corona Relief, click Get Protected.

This will open up a chatbot window and autofill your first inquiry asking for ?????? financial relief from coronavirus. The chatbot then asks what you need help with and gives you three options: Rent payments, Credit card payments and Other bills. 

This is more of a choose-your-own-adventure style chatbot, where your responses are almost always limited to a few options, so you don't have to worry about phrasing your requests perfectly or the chatbot misunderstanding you.