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Personal Finance

A Guide to Contacting Your Lender

You might make payments on a credit card, mortgage, student loan, auto loan or personal loan without ever contacting the lender. But what if an issue arises and you need to reach out to your lender? Maybe you need to inquire about a potentially fraudulent charge on your credit card bill. Or perhaps you've run into trouble making your mortgage payments and need help. In this guide, we'll walk you through when you might want to contact your lender and how to go about it.

When to Contact Your Lender

Any number of scenarios might arise that prompt you to contact a lender. You might want to get in touch with some or all of your lenders if you:

  • Are confused about information on a billing statement.
  • Think you'll miss a payment or already have missed a payment. If you're experiencing short-term or long-term financial problems, a lender might be willing to provide relief, such as working out a payment plan for your mortgage. This is especially important if you lost your job or are suddenly unable to work.
  • Need to update your mailing address. This way, you don't miss billing statements and other important notifications sent by a lender.
  • Need to update your name.
  • Want to change your payment due date.
  • Changed financial institutions and need to update your automatic payment plan.

You may also have an issue with a particular loan or credit card that you'd like to resolve. Here's a breakdown of scenarios based on the type of credit product.

Credit Card

Here are six reasons you might need to reach out to your credit card issuer—the bank, credit union or other entity that provides a card to you and accepts your monthly payments.

  1. Your card has been lost or stolen. In this situation, call your card issuer as soon as possible. If an unauthorized purchase is made before you report it missing, federal law limits your liability to $50.
  2. You want to dispute a charge. You might have spotted a questionable charge on your credit card statement, for instance, or noticed an authorized charge that shows the wrong dollar amount.
  3. You hope to score a lower interest rate.
  4. You'd like to request an increase in your credit limit.
  5. You want to get late fees or annual fees waived.
  6. You're going on a trip. If you're heading out of state or, more important, out of the country, you should alert the card issuer so it doesn't flag purchases made during that time as potentially fraudulent.

Mortgage

When should you reach out to your mortgage servicer, the company that manages your loan? Here are six suggestions:

  1. You have questions about your escrow account, which contains money to pay homeowners insurance and property taxes.
  2. You want to know the payoff amount for the loan.
  3. You'd like to reduce your monthly payment.
  4. You're looking at refinancing your mortgage, either to lower the interest rate or to decrease the term of the loan (from 30 years to 15 years, for example).
  5. You want to switch from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a more predictable fixed-rate mortgage.
  6. You hope to put more money toward the principal by upping the amount you pay each month.

Student Loan

Certain circumstances might spur you to contact your student loan servicer (the organization that manages your loan). Here are four:

  1. You're preparing to graduate and want to clarify how much the total amount is, when you need to begin making payments, how much your monthly payments will be and other details.
  2. You need to resolve a dispute. This might involve incorrect information about your payment record or loan balance.
  3. You're dropping out of school.
  4. You'd like to consolidate your student loans.

Auto Loan

You might contact your auto lender if you want to:

  • Find out the payoff amount for your loan.
  • Inquire about any financial penalties when you're getting ready to pay off your loan.
  • Buy a new car.

Personal Loan

Here are a few questions that might trigger outreach to the lender that handles your personal loan:

  • Can I pay off my loan early?
  • Will I be charged a fee if I pay off my loan early?
  • Can I take out another personal loan?

Where to Find a Lender's Contact Information

Generally, you should be able to find a lender's contact information on its website. This includes a lender's phone numbers, mailing addresses, and email addresses. But you might be able to find it in other places. For instance, contact information typically:

  • Pops up when you hunt for it on Google or another search engine.
  • Appears on the back of a credit card.
  • Shows up on monthly statements.

In addition, you can check your credit report for phone numbers and mailing addresses of creditors, such as credit card issuers and mortgage lenders. Keep in mind that the names of some creditors might look a little unusual on a credit report. For instance, if you have a Target credit card, it might be listed on your credit report as TD Bank USA/Target. TD Bank is the card issuer, and Target is the retail brand associated with the card.

For student loans backed by the federal government, you can find a list of student loan servicers on the financial aid website of the U.S. Department of Education. You also can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243.

The Best Ways to Contact Your Lender

The best way to reach out to lenders depends on the circumstances. In some cases, you might be able to resolve a situation just by clicking on a lender's website or mobile app. This could include tasks such as changing your mailing address or setting up a travel alert with a credit card issuer.

Your lender might also offer an online chat feature where you can quickly get real-time answers to simple or even complicated questions.

Some situations might require a phone call, however. It's best to pick up the phone and talk to a representative if you're:

  • Asking for financial help: If you're experiencing financial problems and can't make your debt payments, your best bet is to call the lender (sooner rather than later). Contacting the lender as soon as possible enables you to quickly work out solutions, such as devising a payment plan or temporarily halting payments, before you miss your payment.
  • Reporting a lost or stolen credit card: Act fast to prevent unauthorized charges from being racked up.
  • Disputing a charge on your credit card: While a phone call is usually sufficient in this case, keep in mind that your rights might not be fully protected unless you file the dispute by mail. This involves flagging unauthorized use, reporting billing errors or stopping a payment. Check with your card issuer to ensure you're following their protocols.
  • Requesting a lower interest rate
  • Seeking a lower monthly payment
  • Inquiring about bumping up your credit limit
  • Asking for fee waivers
  • Closing a credit card account: Want to close your credit card account? Your options here are to call the card issuer or request the closure through a secure online message.

Contacting your lender can be necessary in certain situations. Knowing when and how to reach out is the first step to resolving any problems with your creditors.

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