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Financial hardship happens when you are unable to meet repayment obligations for a service that you're using. Basically, you're finding it hard to pay one or more of your bills.

When people sign up to a plan or service, they're usually confident they'll be able to pay the bill. Unfortunately later, due to an unexpected event or circumstance, they are unable to pay anymore. In other cases, there are those that are unable to afford the bill from the beginning. These situations are all covered by the term 'financial hardship'.

If you find yourself unable to pay you will need to tell your telephone, mobile or internet provider you are experiencing "financial hardship". The company's customer service representative can then offer you the help you need.

 

If you're having difficulty paying lots of bills at once, you can call a financial counsellor. Financial counsellors help you work through the issues and identify options. Their services are free and confidential. They can help you figure out what to do – how to organise your money, how to pay your bills, how to get the support you need. Even if you feel you are coping, a fresh set of eyes may help you sort things out more quickly, or identify other forms of assistance you weren't aware of.

You can phone a financial counsellor from anywhere in Australia by calling 1800 007 007 (minimum opening hours are 9.30 am – 4.30 pm Monday to Friday). This number will automatically switch through to the service in the State or Territory you are calling from.

 

If you're finding it hard to pay your phone or internet bill, you are not the only one. Lots of people face unexpected circumstances at different times in their lives – like losing a job, having a relationship breakdown, becoming sick or even after bushfires, floods and cyclones.

The contact details of Optus, Vodafone and Telstra can be found on the Get Help page.