People dealing with debt relief situations usually end up needing the credit counseling professionals. The two main things offered by the credit counseling advisors are Financial guidance and financial education. In addition, credit repair services are also offered by some counseling agencies. These services play an essential role in solving the purpose of escaping or avoiding a financial crisis.
Credit counseling addresses several issues, including credit card counseling, credit and budget advice, repayment plans, family credit counseling, financial education, and reverse mortgage counseling. It totally depends on where you get credit counseling from, as some of the above or all of the above services might be available.
Credit counseling can be availed free-of-charge with services like guidance and financial education as well as solid advice about financial issues. If you get a chance to take advantage of this type of credit counseling, you should definitely take it.
Based on the discussion of your financial situation, you can receive advice and guidelines from an expert. Credit counseling can usually be conducted online, over the telephone, or in a one-on-one meeting, but face-to-face communication is more preferable.
The goal of consumer credit counseling service is to educate the debtors of different consolidation ways. The secured debt credit is the one with which you can avoid unnecessary additional clerical costs and also prevent legal actions against yourself. In short, credit counseling is designed to pull out an individual, who is stuck neck deep in debt.
- List out all community based and non-profit credit counseling services.
- Check out their accreditations and business history through their websites and testimonials.
- Talk to them before signing anything.
- Don't leave anything to ambiguity; get theirs and your obligations in writing.
- Take help from The National Foundation for Credit Counseling for researching about the credit counseling organization.
Credit Counseling Program Shopping
Credit counseling firms must be able to share information for free about their program, that too without taking your financial situation information into consideration. Getting free information from different agencies will allow you to choose the best from an extensive portfolio of programs. You can also perform environmental research on credit counseling programs by seeing what your local consumer protection agency, attorney general, or Better Business Bureau has to say about them.
Credit counseling program with a high number of registered consumer complaints might not be the best option to choose. But, think cautiously about any complaint that you find, as some people can be unreasonable sometimes, and not every complaint necessarily has validity. Be sure to read the customer explanation of events and whether what they have claimed, actually occurred.
What is Involved in the Credit Counseling Process?
When a consumer goes to credit counseling, they will work together to determine a monthly payment that will be based on the amount of consumer debt and the creditors that are owed. First, consumers sign up with the credit counseling agency to send the monthly payments. The agency then tries to negotiate the interest rates to as low as possible, and make the final payments to the creditors. However, it is entirely possible that some creditors will not give lower rates or participate in the programs.
What is the Cost of Credit Counseling?
Every situation of the state, company, and individual will affect the credit counseling services cost. Some states have specific regulations about fees and charges, and if you have a lot of debt or creditors you will likely pay more than most people. The setup fees average around $50 while monthly fees for being a member go around $30-$40. These fees are often lower simply because creditors give part of the received payments back to the counseling agency. Make sure to avoid those companies which try to take your money right away, as they're probably not worth to work with.
What about Non-profit Companies?
There are some not-for-profit credit counseling services. Besides this, many companies that operated as non-profit in the past have lost their tax-exempt status due to their nature of being partially profitable. On the other hand, unless you are in a financial situation, where payment is not an option, most of the non-profit companies will still charge you fees in exchange for their services.
Does this Mean that Non-profit Services are Regulated by the Government?
No, they just have tax issues to consider for their non-profit operations. Many of the non-profits that exist are neutral and will attempt to be impartial when assessing your needs. Some companies, for profit or not, will still have a vested interest in signing up consumers regardless of their situation simply for the fees that they will earn.
What is the Obstacle to Credit Counseling, and Does it Affect My Credit?
Positive and Negative. If your bills are up to date, you'll have a negative effect on your credit for using the services, but if you are behind, using counseling to catch up payments look good in most cases. Keep in mind that debt settlement and payment plans don't actually impact your credit score, but they do affect your report when lenders know that you have worked with credit counseling and/or debt settlement.
Credit counseling also doesn't lower monthly payments enough for some people, which is what they need in the first place. Since no debt is being settled, you have to depend on the counseling company to make your disbursements on time, periodically, and if they don't, then your interest rate might go right back up.
The final downside to credit counseling is that not all creditors participate. This is something that you don't find out until the agency tries to make payments to them, and then the account will be considered past due because they didn't get the payments from the counseling service because they haven’t participated.
How Can a Credit Counselor Help?
One of the main goals of a credit counselor is to negotiate better terms with your creditors. A credit counselor also tries to enroll a consumer in a debt repayment plan, which can be used as a tool when approached to creditors to get better terms on your accounts.
Why Credit Counseling?
You really should do your due diligence before you make any major financial decision, and same goes for credit counseling. You should probably seek the guidance of a professional if your answer is yes to one or more of the following questions:
- Has your debt situation started to affect your relationships?
- Has any lender ever denied you of credit?
- Are you getting harassing phone calls from creditors that are getting out of control?
- Are you finding it hard to cope up with your debt?
If you have decided to get hold of credit counseling, then keep in mind that you have to also do your due diligence on the organization and make sure that they have their scruples intact. It would probably be in your best interest to seek out a non-profit credit counseling agency, but even the non-profit ones can be a scam, so make sure that they have the membership of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA).
Probably best if you ask for references. Any organization that you're looking to do business with should be able to provide you with at least one reference, and in case they don't offer any reference immediately or tries to dodge the questions in any which way, then it should be considered as a definite red flag. You should also check out the Better Business Bureau, or your State Attorney General's office for any cases or complaints filed against the organization in question.
Another thing worth checking is asking about their fees and make sure that they are forthright in their dealings as far as their fees are concerned. Most legitimate credit counseling agencies don't ask for an upfront fee, but many have a suggested monthly donation when you enroll in a program.
Do not pay for anything upfront until the terms of the agreement are clear and concise, and there is a clear expectation of what the credit counseling agency is going to execute.
Who Requires a Credit Counselor?
The services of a credit counselor can prove to be helpful if you feel overwhelmed by debt or store accounts, have trouble making your monthly payments on credit cards, mortgages, or any other type of debt. You can get out of debt on your own, but carrying some expert guidance from an accredited organization can surely make the whole process easier, quicker, and hassle-free. The true motive of a professional credit counselor will always be to endow the clients with proper guidance to get rid all of their debts, curtail interest payments while building up smarter spending and saving habits.