Unfortunately, some of you will not be able to make all of your payments when the first of the month comes around, and, for some of you, it may happen next month or beyond. So, what do you do? I will discuss things like your credit card or mortgage payments below. I’ve also recorded videos specifically on your mortgage, car and credit card payments which you can find on the Icard Merrill YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7SGgGfQ3bMCiQy6CFx2cRA?view_as=subscriber

In this article, I want to share three tips with you when dealing with your creditors during and post COVID-19 pandemic.

Tip #1- What should you be doing right now? The first thing is to be pro-active. Some creditors out there are offering to defer payments for a month but you have to ask. The feedback I am getting from clients is that they have been able to secure a one-month extension and then the creditor has advised them that it will re-address a deferment next month if they need another extension. Therefore, you must be pro-active. You can do it with your credit card, car payments as well as your mortgage payments. However, being pro-active is the key. If you wait until the last minute, you may not get the deferral for that month. I had one client who put a call in on a Friday and put in a request for a payment that was due on Monday. Monday morning he checked his account only to find the payment withdrawn, he was short funds and his account overdrawn. The lesson is – don’t delay! Be pro-active with your creditors and for at least the time being, your creditors are willing to work with you as everyone is in the same boat.

Tip # 2- Stay informed. Learn how to handle things. Learn what resources are out there to assist you. Congress passed the CARES Act and I have recorded multiple videos explaining the consumer provisions that may assist you that you can find on the YouTube channel above or my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/martellalaw/. You are probably familiar with the $1,200 stimulus payment. If you have not yet received your check or an automatic deposit, go on-line to the IRS website to sign up and have it directly deposited. If you never received a refund before or if the IRS does not have your current information, you need to go on the IRS website at www.IRS.gov and get set up for a direct deposit. Again, be informed. So, when you call your creditor and they tell you that nothing is available, raise the CARES Act. Tell them what you read. Tell them what you know. I have had clients tell me they got pushback at first but when they raised the CARES Act and what they learned, they were able to get assistance. That leads me to my third tip.

Tip #3- Be Aggressive. While I don’t have to tell my Jersey friends this tip, I do have to remind my Midwestern and Southern friends this tip. If you don’t get results from the first person you speak to, ask for a supervisor. You need to do that and that is why you need to be informed. Keep in mind, I am sure these creditors are hiring a whole bunch of new people. People who are unfamiliar with how things work and who isn’t in the credit business. You need to be aggressive and you cannot be aggressive until you are informed. Again, if you are not getting results that you know you are entitled to go up the ladder to get the answers that you are seeking.

To review: be pro-active; stay informed by reading articles like this one and watching videos; and be aggressive when dealing with your creditors and don’t be afraid of them. They may try to intimidate you, but don’t let them.

Bonus Tip- My bonus tip for you is to stay calm. Just take a deep breath and stay calm. Look, nothing is going to happen immediately. You are not going to be thrown out of your house. Creditors are not able to automatically levy on a bank account. They will have to go through the whole judicial procedure before that can happen. If you stop making your credit card payments today, it will probably be close to a year before you might get sued. In that whole time, you will have the opportunity to figure things out. So, please stay calm. You will get through this. We will get through this together.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me. Give me a call 941-206-3700 or e-mail me at mmartella@icardmerrill.com.