The first thing you need to do is contact the credit card companies to seek 30 days’ initial respite while you seek advice.
Lenders should usually respect such a ‘breathing space’ request at this stage without putting undue pressure on you for repayment.
Next, draw up a household budget listing income and only the household essentials, such as mortgage, utility bills, travel costs, phone and food etc.
If this budget is unaffordable, let alone the credit cards, speak to your mortgage lender as soon as possible to discuss what help is available.
For now, options such as switching to interest-only payments, taking a payment holiday or extending the term can all be offered subject to your circumstances - but communication with the lender is key.
Similarly, speak to the credit card companies and ask for an interest freeze and affordable payment plan, using your household budget to show what you have coming in and going out.
Your longer-term options for dealing with the situation depend on various factors such as the amount of equity in your home and your employment circumstances. Crucially, you don’t need to do any of this alone.
I would strongly recommend you seek free debt advice from a charity-run service such as National Debtline or Citizens Advice as soon as possible.
Denis Hussey works for the National Debtline.