Many people are in a crunch these days when it comes to paying bills. The ones that are the most scary are mortgage, utilities, and of course credit cards. These are the ones where the phone calls will start coming, and if you’re like almost everyone else, you’ll just decide not to answer the phone and deal with the pressure on the back end.

I’ve been in the same boat a few times in my past. I’ve avoided the phone calls and allowed the fear of what might happen to make me feel as though I were cowering in my own home. Well, there’s an answer for this, one that you should think about doing immediately.

That is to pick up the phone and call these people before they call you. This will serve two purposes. One, often you’ll find that these people will work with you in some fashion to help you out in a pinch. Many will allow you to skip a payment, or make a reduced payment for a month or two, which could help greatly. Some creditors will work with you on payment plans over time.

Even with those few who won’t work with you, and they really are few, by law they can’t contact you again for 5 business days, which means you won’t have to deal with another phone call for a week, in which time something good might come along and give you at least a negotiating position of some sort.

Of course, if your issue is an outstanding credit card or debt of some other kind, one that you know is on a credit report somewhere, you should know your rights and what you’re really responsible for. Last year I wrote an article titled Know Your Charge-Off Amounts, and this one could save you a lot of money on outstanding payments because, by law, if you make a payment without verifying what the charge off amount is, you’re legally liable for the entire balance the collection agency wants to get out of you, which usually includes penalties and other fees.

Don’t be a victim to bad situations and outstanding debts. Everyone has them; pick up the phone, be proactive, and you’ll be amazed when good things come out of it.