'Give us a call right away': Companies offer payment plans during pandemic

Posted at 3:16 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 23:31:28-04

If you lost your job, or had your hours cut, because of the coronavirus, making ends meet is a real concern.

But before you dip into savings or borrow money to pay your phone, cable or utility bill, contact your collector because there are options to get you through this rough financial time.

In Wisconsin, WE Energies said it won't be shutting off anyone's power during this pandemic.

"We are not doing any disconnections currently or until this situation is over with," said spokesperson Brenden Conway.

The utility company is also working with customers worried about making their payments.

"Anyone that has a concern, should just give us a call right away. We do have heating assistance that is currently available through the state so you might qualify for that. It's income-based. We have budget billing where it spreads out your payments," said Conway.

Also, don't panic if you can't make that monthly credit card bill. Chief credit analyst, Matt Schulz, with Lending Tree said many credit card issuers are waiving fees or offering what's called hardship programs to customers, which are essentially payment plans.

"The important thing to understand is that you are not going to get these breaks unless you ask for it," said Schulz.

"Call the 800 number on the back of your credit card and the best time to do that is today," he continued.

Major cell carriers like AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile have announced different ways to ease the burden of phone bills whether it's waiving late fees, offering cheaper phone plans, or extra data at no cost.

And automakers are encouraging customers to call their loan servicer and go over payment relief options.

Keep in mind, this isn't free money, it's temporary financial relief during this pandemic.

If you find that a financial firm or another provider isn't willing to work with you, you have the option of filing a complaint with consumer protection groups like Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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