Whether you're already behind on your bills or worried you might fall behind soon, call your creditors. Let them know what's going on -- job loss, divorce, medical problems, or other troubles -- and ask for help. Suggest possible solutions such as a temporary reduction of your payments, skipping a few payments and tacking them on at the end of a loan, skipping a few payments and paying them off over a few months, dropping late fees and other charges, or even rewriting a loan.
If you need help negotiating with your creditors, consider contacting a nonprofit debt counseling organization. You can find a list of counseling agencies by location at the website of the U.S. Trustee, www.usdoj.gov/ust (select "Credit Counseling and Debtor Education.") The federal government has authorized the agencies on this list to provide counseling to debtors considering bankruptcy. However, don't pay anyone to "fix" your credit. For more information, see Nolo's article Don't Use a Credit Repair Clinic. To learn about ways to get your debt under control, see Nolo's article Dealing With Debt: An Overview of Your Options.