If you are looking at the new funds in your bank account that came from the federal government’s economic stimulus package and thinking about paying down some of your bills, you are not alone. A recent poll conducted by Gallup, the national polling agency, revealed that more than one-third of those who were surveyed are planning on using their stimulus money to help them get out of debt. Those in low- or middle-income families are even more likely to use the money to pay off their debts, according to the survey.

Given that many consumers have had their mortgages or rent payments suspended, as well as their student loan payments, auto loan payments, and other regular financial commitments, they are looking to other debts that they may not have been able to pay off in the past and to take care of them. Many consumers are using their time in self-quarantine as an opportunity to check their credit reports and are finding old debts on there and calling collection agencies and creditors to pay off those debts or create payment arrangements. And, in the worst case, many consumers are now out of work and will be looking for new jobs once the country begins to recover from the pandemic, and they know that many employers check the credit reports of an applicant as part of the screening process. Improving their credit score can help consumers get a job.

With so much extra time on their hands, more consumers are calling collection agencies and creditors looking to work out plans to settle or pay off their debts. This can be a great opportunity for consumers to move toward financial freedom and independence once the coronavirus pandemic is over. Creditors and collection agencies are more eager than ever to hear from consumers and to discuss how they can be more helpful and work together to find solutions that make sense for both sides of the transaction. Many collection agencies across the country are reporting increases in the number of calls they are receiving from consumers who want to inquire, discuss, and settle their financial obligations.

Collection agencies can’t work with consumers who are not willing to have a conversation. That conversation is a starting point that can put a consumer on a path toward getting out of debt, getting a better credit score, and getting a better life. Consumers should not be afraid to pick up the phone and call to ask questions about a debt or share their situation. Collection agencies are there to help. Now more than ever.