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Fixing your finances during this health crisis

An area expert shares tips on how to manage your finances during tough times.

PITTSTON, Pa. — It is a tough time for many people. According to state officials, more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians lost their jobs during this pandemic.

Money experts say they need to take control by contacting their creditors for help.

Federal officials say credit card companies have to help people out right now.

You can ask to have payments deferred for a few months, and have late charges waived or refunded.

Posey Lavelle works for Advantage Credit Counseling Service in Luzerne County, a nonprofit human service agency.

"Keep a pen and paper available, record anything that goes on with that conversation, make a note if you have an operator ID so you can go back and reference it if necessary," said Lavelle.

Insurance companies are offering discounts, too. Some are automatic but others you have to call for.

If your mortgage is a problem, you can ask for a forbearance or loan modification.

If you rent, contact your landlord as soon as possible.

In Pennsylvania, evictions and foreclosures because of nonpayment are banned now through July 10.

RELATED: Governor, attorney general announce order preventing evictions, foreclosures

"Speak to your landlord; they're in business, too. So they, of course, they need that money as well, but if you can make partial payments, when you get back on your feet, you won't owe as much. You may not be immediately evicted, but once you're on your feet and you're back to work, you're still going to have to pay something towards that rent."

Lavelle has been doing this kind of work for more than 30 years. 

She says the most important advice she can give right now is to make a list of all your bills and debts and get in front of any problems. 

Contact everyone you can to get ahead of any problems.

"You need to be in front of it. You need to call your creditors, discuss your situation, and see what options they have available for you."

Right now, Lavelle says everyone is entitled to one free credit report a week.

She advises taking advantage of this: make sure if you miss a payment like a mortgage during this pandemic, it's not being reported as delinquent and damaging your credit.

For more information on consumer credit services, including Advantage Credit Counseling offers, click here.

RELATED: Another 2.5 million job losses expected in Thursday weekly report