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What are companies doing if you can't pay your bills?

WFAA rounded up this list of some large service providers that are willing to work with customers.
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“Americans are more worried about unexpected expenses and paying their bills than catching COVID-19,” according to FinanceBuzz, which surveyed 1,200 U.S. adults this week.

Many are worried about how their families will make ends meet, especially for those who have had hours cut or lost their job because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

Companies are quickly reacting to those concerns, offering payment extensions on bills and waiving late fees. 

If you have concerns about missing bill payments, call the individual companies or reach out via social media. Many appear to be open to working with customers.

RELATED: Renters' relief: What you can do if you can't afford to pay

WFAA rounded up this list of some large service providers that are willing to work with customers, but this is far from an exhaustive list. 

Allstate Insurance

Spokeswoman Katylin McCallum provided WFAA with some of the changes Allstate Insurance is making:

Customers can now request a special payment plan, allowing them to skip two premium payments in a row with no penalty.

We’re encouraging customers to use the Allstate mobile app to start a claim, provide proof of insurance or request 24/7 roadside assistance.

For customers who want to reach out to a local agent, office staff is available by phone during normal business hours. Customers can also reach Allstate at any time at 1-800-ALLSTATE.

Ambit Energy

For its customers in Texas, they are doing the following, per the website:

  • Waiving late payment fees
  • Extending payment due dates, with no partial payment required
  • Reducing monthly payments by allowing customers to pay their balances over five equal installments

If you find yourself needing this help, call customer support at 877-282-6248.

LINK: Ambit Energy COVID-19 online updates

AT&T

The phone, cable and internet provider posted online they had “suspended broadband usage caps” for home internet customers, meaning you won’t face overage fees “while people are home using more data” during the COVID-19 outbreak.

In addition, they are not terminating service “of any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer due to an inability to pay their bill as a result of the coronavirus pandemic—and we’re waiving late payment fees for those customers.”

AT&T is also keeping its public Wi-Fi hotspots open, so anyone can use them. The company is also offering internet access for “qualifying limited-income households at $10/month through our Access from AT&T program.”

LINK: AT&T COVID-19 online updates

Fort Worth Water Department

The city is temporarily halting disconnections due to non-payment, according to water department spokeswoman Mary Gugliuzza. This applies to residential, commercial and industrial accounts. Not only will that help customers, but also should help stop the spread of the virus through hand washing and proper hygiene.

However, they are not at this time waiving late fees and customers “are reminded they are still responsible for making payments in a timely manner.”

“Utility staff will continue to review accounts each billing cycle, water bills will continue to be sent out, late fees will continue to accrue, and delinquency notifications will be sent out under the normal process. Service interruptions for non-payment will resume at a later date,” Gugliuzza said in a written statement.

Reliant Energy

Reliant Energy is offering support to customers facing hardships by:

  • Providing payment extensions and waiving late fees
  • Assisting customers with deferred payment plans
  • Offering bill payment assistance through Reliant’s CARE program

The electric company is also “pausing payment-related disconnects for residential and small commercial customers.” Go online, download the app, or call 1-866-RELIANT to receive that help.

LINK: Reliant Energy COVID-19 online updates

Spectrum

According to its website, for 60 days starting March 16, Spectrum is opening Wi-Fi hotspots for public use, continue to offer Spectrum Internet Assist (its high-speed internet program) to eligible low-income homes and partner with school districts to help students learn remotely.

“We won’t terminate service for Spectrum Internet, TV or voice residential or small business customers who face difficult economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic," officials said. 

Also, they’re not charging late fees for people in those situations.

LINK: Spectrum COVID-19 online updates

Venterra Living

A manager with the apartment company told WFAA “absolutely no evictions will be filed with the courts” during this time. They are also not charging late fees and partial rent payments will be accepted.

“Venterra is being sensitive to the impact of coronavirus, understanding almost every aspect of business and life is affected at the moment. We are continuing to monitor changes to external factors, like stimulus from the federal government that would be able to assist everyone, specifically our residents," the business said in a written statement.

"We have not advertised it yet, but specific COVID-19 Payment Plans are in place to assist those with reduced hours, or who have been laid off," according to the company. 

Verizon Wireless

Between March 16 and May 13, Verizon is waiving late fees for customers experiencing tough economic conditions because of the outbreak. The company also says it “will not terminate service to a customer who’s been impacted by the events involving the coronavirus.” 

If customers find themselves needing help due to these circumstances, contact Verizon to discuss available options.

LINK: Verizon COVID-19 online updates

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