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Don't let postal delays lead to late fees

With many Americans fearful of opening letters, and frequent delays in the mail, paying bills on time has become a problem for some people.

But the website ConsumerReports.org is offering advice for consumers concerned about late fees on mortgages, and credit-card, and utility bills. A few of the tips mentioned on the site:

• Check the postmarks of bills against their due dates. If you can't meet the deadline, contact the customer-service department in advance.

• Ask that late fees received since Sept. 11 be removed. Contact the Federal Reserve Bank (202-452-3693) or Office of the Comptroller (800-613-6743) if you're not satisfied.

• For problems with a Federal Housing Authority loan, contact a Housing and Urban Development counselor (800-217-6970). HUD has asked lenders for a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures for those affected by the attacks.

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