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Managing your bills

As you talk with companies about the issues below, be sure to write down who you talked to and when.

Utility bills

If you had to leave your home or if your utilities and services are not working, companies may have a hard time reaching you. They may send any debts you owe to a collection agency. Set up a forwarding address and update your information, so they can contact you before problems arise. Do the same for each of your financial institutions.

Credit card payments and other bills

Review your income and savings and determine how much money you have available to pay bills and creditors. If you can’t make your credit card payments, contact the company to see if they can offer some affordable repayment options. Your lenders may be willing to work with you, but be proactive to avoid extra expenses, fees, and actions that could negatively impact your credit score.

Other steps to take if you can’t pay your credit card bills after a disaster or emergency.

Bank accounts and automatic payments

After a disaster, electrical blackouts and flooding can make it hard to send payments on time or to stop automatic payments. This can lead to overdraft fees. Contact your bank or lenders quickly if you need to stop automatic payments or if you will miss a payment due to the disaster. Explain the situation and ask for a waiver of any late fees.

Emergency assistance programs

If assistance is available it can help pay for the repairs to your home, car, or other property. Local assistance programs may be able to help you meet immediate relief needs. If you are in a presidentially declared disaster area, you may be eligible for federal resources.

More information about finding emergency assistance and relief programs