A call to creditors is good, but a letter and a follow-up call are even better.

Remind creditors of how long you have been faithfully making payments if the responses are unfriendly.

In these tough economic times, communication with your bank, mortgage company, and credit card companies is even more important.  Thankfully, they have several programs that homeowners and debtors can utilize to modify loans or reduce payments.  In addition to making online applications for lower monthly payments, you may find leniency simply by calling them to notify them that a payment is going to be even a little late.  Reaching out to them shows that you are making the effort to let them know your circumstances.  They document your file with the date you called and what you said.  Banks, creditors and mortgages companies do have their rules, but still, they are made up of human beings just like you and me.  Some are not as lenient as others but many will say, “I am sorry to hear that you are having difficulty making your payments now.”  Often they will recognize how many years you have been a faithful customer and thank you for that.  Be sure to remind them of how long you have been faithfully making payments if the responses are unfriendly.  They are required by law to remind you that they are debt collectors but that does not mean that they won’t work with you. 


At times, credit card companies will simply waive a late fee as a one-time courtesy if you can let them know that there were extenuating circumstances preventing you from making your payment on time.  Many companies have advised their customer service representatives (CSRs) to try and work with customers as much as possible during these times and they do give them limited leeway with customers.    


A call is good, but a letter and a follow-up call are even better.  The letter gets scanned and becomes part of your file.  Calling about a week or so later lets them know that you are on top of your situation.  Keep your own log of the date you called, the response you got and the name and department of the person that spoke to you.  Often, the CSR will give you his or her ID number as well.  This may seem like a no-brainer, but keep all your notes about the creditor in one file.  Keeping notes on the back of an envelope may be convenient when on the phone, but transfer notes into the notebook or electronic file or manila file folder afterwards.  Don’t trust your memory.  You may have to refer back to previous conversations if you were given specific information by a particular individual. 


Also, do complete customer service surveys when possible.  These are valuable instruments in assessing the productivity and serviceability of a company’s representatives.