But credit experts warn: Have a plan before you plea.
The Bill Pile
Some workers are entering unemployment with savings, little or no debt, and a solid credit record. Others begin their layoff with less enviable positions on one or all three fronts.
Begin by plotting how long your resources will cover your basic living expenses—mortgage or rent, food, transportation, utilities, insurance.
Consumer credit advocates don't include credit card bills in the bare-bones expense category. "You prioritize by paying living expenses first, then secured credit accounts, like your auto loan, and then credit cards," says Gerri Detweiler, credit adviser for credit.com.
How deep the bill pile and how your resources measure up against it determine your strategy for asking for relief.
For some, it's immediately apparent that they won't be able to meet even the mortgage payment within a month or two.
More Help With Debt From Bankrate.com:
As soon as problems loom, call the lender and explain the job loss, says Ben Windust, senior vice president at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. But he concedes: "I can't give a blanket answer on what the lender will do."
When laid-off workers call before they've missed a payment, they typically don't have to provide documentation about their job loss. It's possible to strike a verbal agreement to ease payments for a period with payback later, when the borrower is working again, says Jon Meade, Fifth Third Bancorp vice president. It's when payments are already missed that more documentation is needed for investors who may hold the mortgage note.