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Coronavirus and dealing with debt: Tips to help ease the impact

Dealing with debt can be a stressful experience. Coupling that with the coronavirus pandemic may make it even harder to address. As you plan for the potential economic impact of coronavirus, there are a number of steps that you can take to help manage debt in these difficult times.

You can look to your state’s unemployment policies to identify current options for benefits. Your state’s public health office may also have information.

Steps to take if you have trouble paying your bills during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Has a debt collector contacted you?

If you currently have a debt in collections, you can work with collectors to identify a realistic repayment plan. We have a number of resources for contacting and negotiating with debt collection companies.

Know your rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says that a debt collector is not allowed to use unfair practices in trying to collect a debt.

Learn about some examples of "unfair" practices by a debt collector

You generally cannot have your Social Security or VA benefits garnished, as well as some other benefits, by a creditor or a debt collector. If you believe you do not owe the debt or that it's not even your debt, send a written request to the debt collector and “dispute” the debt. You can also send a written request to the debt collector to receive more information about the debt.

Wondering how to respond to a debt collector?

Our sample letters* can help if you:

* These letters are not legal advice. You'll also want to keep copies of any letters you send.

Looking to settle your debt?

Debt settlement companies, also sometimes called "debt relief" or "debt adjusting" companies, often claim they can negotiate with your creditors to reduce the amount you owe. Consider all of your options, including working with a nonprofit credit counselor, and negotiating directly with the creditor or debt collector yourself. Before agreeing to work with a debt settlement company, there are risks that you should consider.

Read more about debt settlement.

Find more information regarding COVID-19 from CFPB

We’re working to continuously update information for consumers during this rapidly evolving situation.

We will publish all COVID-19-related information and blogs to our resource page. Information should be considered accurate as of the blog publish date.

See our COVID-19 resource page

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