Tips when talking with your creditors or contacting them by phone

Contact Your Creditors

Consider the following tips when talking with your creditors or contacting them by phone:

  • Document the conversation. Write down the name of the creditor and representative(s) you spoke with, the date and time of the conversation, and the discussion points or decisions made by you and the creditor.
  • Do not yell or curse at the representative. Many creditors want to work out a solution to the debt that works for you and your budget, so stay calm. If you start to get frustrated, thank the representative, end the conversation, and try speaking with another representative or supervisor later. If the creditor is not willing to work with you, you may want to consider using a reputable credit counseling agency to help you negotiate a better deal.
  • Ask if they offer “hardship” programs for customers having financial difficulty. “Hardship” is a key term to use when seeking a temporary reduction in your monthly payment and interest rate.
  • Be honest with yourself and your creditors. Do not accept any deal that you cannot fulfill. Be firm in stating what you can realistically pay and when.

 

Following the conversation:

  • Send a letter to the creditor summarizing the agreement you made. Keep a copy for your records.
  • Stick to the agreement made and contact the creditor immediately if you cannot meet your obligations.

If initially contacting your creditor in writing:

  • Provide your name and account number.
  • State that you are unable to meet the minimum monthly payment on your account.
  • Inform them of your financial difficulties. Be specific about your:
    • Budgeting and debt problems (e.g., state the number of creditors you owe, the total amount you owe, your net monthly income, and amount you have after paying basic living expenses)
    • Reasons for these difficulties (e.g., due to unemployment, illness, or disability).
  • Explain the actions you have taken to evaluate and improve your situation (e.g., set up a realistic budget, and sought financial counseling).
  • State your request (e.g., reduce the monthly payment, defer a payment for a month, or accept a payment in the amount of X on Y date).
  • Include the date in which you plan to return to your regular monthly payments if known.