As social-distancing and shelter-in-place orders became the way of life, any semblance of economic stability quickly disappeared. There is not one industry that has not been impacted by COVID19. This means that most people have seen their finances thrown in total chaos—often resulting in being unable to pay bills.
During this time, you should not hesitate to ask for help. If you are having trouble paying your bills, there is no shame in asking for some relief. Because this crisis has hit every area of society, most creditors are aware that people are having trouble paying bills. If you find yourself unable to pay bills, do not hesitate to take steps to ask your creditors for help.
Here are some guidelines you can follow if you find yourself unable to pay your bills.
- Make a list of your creditors, and the amounts owed as well as the due dates.
- Contact your creditors and ask for alternative payment arrangements, these could include: i) a total deferment of payments, where you make payments at a later date; ii) a reduction in payments, where you pay less than the amount due at the time; or iii) a “forgiveness” of payments, where either the full amount due, or portion thereof, is forgiven, and you are not obligated to pay it.
- Get confirmation of any payment arrangements in writing. Ask the creditor to send you confirmation of the new payment arrangements. Make sure that you keep a record of the representative with whom you speak, and any contact information, customer representative numbers, or other identifying information for the representative.
- Communicate with your creditors as soon as possible if you cannot keep the agreed upon alternative payment arrangements. These are uncertain times, and things are constantly changing. You may have good faith intentions to keep alternative payment arrangements. But other obligations may arise, or you may not receive the monetary resources that you anticipated. If other obstacles arise, after you have already made payment arrangements, let your creditors know as soon as possible that you cannot meet the alternative payment obligations. You may be able to work out new arrangements.
You may encounter long wait times as you try to contact creditors by telephone. Again, this crisis is being felt by the entire world—and creditors are likely overwhelmed with calls. Therefore, make sure that you start attempting to contact creditors as soon as you realize that you may not be able to pay bills. But definitely try to contact the creditor as least 5-7 days before the due date.
Stay safe and healthy!