Personal Credit Counseling
Need personal credit counseling? If so, before you sign up with any service, be sure you’re aware of all of the money factors involved.
Why? Well, the truth is there are many credit counseling organizations out there that may not have your best interest in mind. And the last thing you need right now is to lose money.
Credit counseling is usually offered by private businesses, non-profit organizations and local churches. To find a reputable service, you can check with the Better Business Bureau or a nationally accredited organization like the NFCC (National Foundation for Credit Counseling).
The Better Business Bureau ratings of credit counseling companies can be viewed on line. Once you find a “AAA” service in your area be sure to ask for a personal reference. With the contact information of a previous customer you can get all your questions answered by someone who actually has experience in dealing with the company.
Another good way to check out credit counseling services is to go online to message boards and websites where you can ask others for their recommendations or get your specific questions answered about a company you’re considering. Hearing people’s different experiences with various companies can be invaluable.
When making your choice, keep these things in mind:
- The company should offer a full range of services. You never know what you might need until after you start the counseling. For example, maybe you’ll just want someone to help you sort out all your creditors and make a plan that you can carry out all by yourself. Or perhaps you’ll need a full-scale debt management or consolidation plan. Whatever you end up with should be what’s best for you. That’s why you need a variety of choices.
- All the money you give to the company for paying off your debt should go to your creditors. Some organizations actually take your entire first payment as a fee for themselves. You don’t want that. Besides being expensive it can damage your current credit score. Other companies help themselves to a $10 to $20 “donation” off the top of each payment. This is both expensive and takes longer for your payoff.
- The credit counseling company you choose should be bonded and insured and willing to work with all your creditors. Although some creditors refuse to interact with credit counselors or debt management organizations, your counselor should be willing to work with everyone – whether or not the creditor pays them. Often, if the credit counselor is willing, they can work out some kind of agreeable solution with the creditor.
A credit counseling company can’t magically make bad things disappear from your credit report, raise your credit score or any of the other “it’s too good to be true” things that many companies promise. (So buyer beware).
However, a good company can give you quality advice, help you to pay off your debt and guide you in reestablishing good credit to rebuild poor scores. And that could give you a new beginning.