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What if I can't pay my credit card bills and loans after a natural disaster?

You may have lost your job because of a disaster, or had your income interrupted. If you don’t think you will be able to pay your credit cards or other loans, be sure to contact your lenders as soon as possible. Explain your situation and when you think you will be able to resume normal payments.

Most creditors will try to find a way to work with you. The important thing is to make the call before your next payments are due. Late or missing payments could damage your credit score at a time when you need access to credit most.

If your home is so damaged that you can’t live in it, you’ll also want to contact your utility companies and ask to suspend your service. This could help free up money in your budget for other expenses.

Take a look at your other bills and set priorities. Your mortgage, rent and insurance payments should stay high on your list.

Next, take a look at your income and savings and determine how much you have available. If you don’t have an emergency savings account, consider starting one as soon as you can. If you are unable to work because of the disaster, federal or state benefits may also be available to you.

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