The Better Business Bureau hears from thousands of people each year, complaining about credit-card late-payment collections. While the collections industry doesnt have the best reputation, there are a few proactive steps you can take in your business and personally to keep your use of unsecured credit in check.
At the time of the purchase, you knew credit cards could be great tools to help you manage your money, but now your outstanding balances are overwhelming. Many people have found themselves in this situation for a wide variety of reasons. What matters next is how to get on a pathway to recovery.
Lenders want to work with their clients and have hardship programs to assist cardholders who have difficulty making their payments. If youre having trouble making your payments, the issuer probably knows this and may have already tried to reach out to you to start a conversation about how to work together in a way that works for both the bank and for you.
Lets begin here:
Call your issuing banks customer service line. Tell them why youre calling, that you want to take responsibility for your finances, but you cannot do it under the current terms. Ask to speak to someone who can explore some options with you.
When you begin a detailed conversation with the right banking representative, focus on what you can do. Once youve initiated the contact, they know youre having trouble with the current plan and terms. At this point, theyre most interested in what you can suggest as possible new plans and terms, so be prepared to share some ideas. Sometimes a small change such as asking to shift your due date to a better time of month can make a big difference.
If your issuing bank tries to contact you, respond, and have this type of conversation. Dont be afraid to talk with the bank. It may be able to make some changes that could make it easier to pay off the debt.
If your attempts to negotiate with your lenders have not been successful, then a credit-counseling agency may be helpful. Start with a search of trustworthy counselors at BBB.org. Look for nonprofit counselors first.
These organizations can review your overall financial and credit situation, discuss your options with you and help you prioritize your bills. They may ultimately negotiate with your creditors to stop the finance charges and late fees and develop a repayment plan that will work for you.
If you know someone who has used such an agency in the past, ask for a recommendation. Or, ask friends or relatives whom they would consider if they needed budgeting advice.
Robb Hicken, chief storyteller for the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River Region. firstname.lastname@example.org, 947-2115