How to Write a Hardship Letter

Need to know how to write a hardship letter? With high unemployment rates and a tight economy, many people are struggling with mortgage payments, medical bills and financial obligations. A key step to seeking alternate arrangements is contacting the company with a hardship letter.

What does a hardship letter do?
A hardship letter is your official point of contact with a company to let them know that you can't pay your bill, and why you're unable to pay. A hardship letter won't get a company to forgive a debt against you, but many companies, with the right hardship letter, are willing to renegotiate a debt or negotiate payment terms to enable you to pay. It's typically in a company's best interest to work with people who contact them via a well-written hardship letter, as it's better to get some money than no money at all.

What to include in a hardship letter.
The more information you can include in a hardship letter, the better. Provide all the details of your current financial status. Let the company know how much you make, and how much your expenses cost on an average month. If you've had special circumstances, outline the details: when, what happened and how much it cost you, financially. Make sure you provide the relevant contact details, such as your address, your phone number, and your account number or reference number for your bill with the company.

Many companies are willing to be flexible if you run into unusual circumstances, such as a death in the family, an injury or unexpected medical expense, a job loss or other major financial event. If you just spend too much for your income, though, you're less likely to see companies willing to make arrangements with you.

Just the facts, ma'am.
Some people mistakenly believe that the sadder a hardship letter is, the better your chances of getting a favorable reply from the company. This simply isn't true. While people are reading your hardship letters, these people see every excuse under the sun for not paying a bill. Your sob story isn't a human interest story to the folks servicing a company's bills; you're just another number to most companies. Your best bet lies in convincing a company of the financial benefits of granting your hardship request.

You want to keep the irrelevant details to a minimum when you write a hardship letter. Don't waste your time or the company's time telling them how unhappy you are, what your mother said about the situation, what your husband's boss said when he was injured at work or anything else that isn't relevant to your financial situation. All the company wants to know is why you haven't paid, and what you're going to do about paying now.

Use specific information and follow up via phone.
Generally, a hardship letter isn't your first point of contact with the company. You might have already spoken with a representative, who asked you to submit a hardship letter. If you've already spoken with someone at the company, make a note of that person's name and address it to that person, if appropriate. Also, ask what supporting documentation you need to include, such as bank statements, pay stubs or other financial data, and make sure you send it along with the hardship letter. Finally, follow up with the company a week or two after they receive your hardship letter to make sure they got the documents, and be proactive about making arrangements.

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