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What happens when credit card bills go unpaid

It doesn't take much for a Florida resident to fall behind on his or her financial obligations. A sudden job loss, a blown-out car engine or an unexpected illness can all create an immediate and impactful cash crunch. Knowing how to respond can make a big difference in how things will ultimately turn out. The following tips are offered in the hopes of helping consumers know what to do when their credit card bills are 30, 60 or 90 days past due.

If a budgetary shortfall creates a short-term problem and credit card bills will be slightly late, it is important to contact the card issuer and let them know. At this stage, creditors are usually happy to work with card holders. This is still a phase where customer service is more important than collections, and the creditor may even offer to waive fines and fees.

If the bills are 60 to 90 days late, expect collections efforts to ramp up. At this point, creditors are going to call and send letters looking for payment. It is imperative to remain in touch with credit card companies at this point, so that they are assured that payment will be forthcoming. Avoiding collections calls and letters is the worst approach, and can escalate the collections process.

If the bills are 90 or more days late, then there is probably a serious financial struggle underway. If credit card bills are past due because of a temporary situation, such as a slow period at work or a short-term bout of illness, then it may be possible to create a repayment play to get back on track. However, if credit card debt is mounting because of a serious matter, such as a job loss or serious medical event, then it might be time for Florida consumers to look into long-term debt relief options, including personal bankruptcy.

Source: CNBC, "Here's what happens if you don't pay off your credit card debt", Abigail Hess, Sept. 19, 2017

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