Credit and Debt Counseling_1 Firms Must Be Accredited and Affiliated in the Right Way
Credit and debt counseling_1, as promised, will deal on how you can find a good agency that will help you on the road to financial health. The right company will spell the difference on whether you get out of debt or get deeper in the hole. The last one is unacceptable so let us see how we can get ourselves a good agency.
How to Find a Good Credit and Debt Counseling Agency
I can't emphasize it enough; it is crucial to get the right credit and debt counseling_1 agency for help. Some of those in the market are found to be interested only in their bottom line, that is, make money for themselves. The recent report from the US Senate that investigated this issue says some are more of a profit model.
The same report did praise the NFCC (National Foundation for Credit Counseling) for its ethical and low-cost help for the consumers. This brings us back to how to find a good credit counselor. Shop around with the guidelines in mind and ask the following questions:
Is the credit and debt counseling_1 company accredited by a third party that is independent? You don't want the same party accrediting or endorsing itself. You want a third party that is reputable like COA (Council on Accreditation) to recognize the company you are considering for then it will mean there are checks and balances to protect you.
Is the credit and debt counseling_1 firm a member or affiliated with a national organization? Affiliation with NFCC is good because it requires its members to adhere to ethical standards like providing clients with a written action plan and statements and getting a yearly audit by a CPA that is independent.
What is the total amount of fees for the services from the company? They should tell you all fees and not charge you before providing the service. Be careful if they say their fees are voluntary. The set up fee should not be more than $50 and the monthly fee should only be around $25. In fact, the company should not assess fees for truly difficult situations.
What services does the firm offer? A comprehensive list of services indicates it may be a good company. Their services should comprise of budget counseling for those without debt troubles and debt counseling for those who need help on this issue. Their services may also include housing and bankruptcy counseling.
Who are the members of the Board of Directors? The members should not be their friends or related to them and should not be paid by the company or there will be some conflict of interest. The board should consist of a wide variety of the community interests.
Is the credit and debt counseling_1 company a nonprofit agency? While this is not a guarantee the company is not unscrupulous, it gives some kind of credit.
Will the firm be able to assign a consumer credit counselor who is certified? One who is certified by NFCC has passed a variety of tests showing the depth of financial know-how that can assist you make financial decisions.
Do they have workshops and educational classes? Is there a fee involved in attending these classes and are they available online? You have to think twice and real hard before joining a company that does not offer any type of education.
How does the company deliver their services? Is it through the internet, by phone or in person? Make sure that the way you want it done is offered by the company.
Does the company require a minimum amount of debt in order to get counseling? The legitimate ones will not have a requirement as to how much debt you have before they will work with you.
Will the company work with all your creditors or will they work only with some? Some, believe it or not, will work only with those who will pay them.
What are the options for debt relief that the firm can offer? If the only solution they will offer is a (DPM) Debt Management Plan, keep looking for another agency. DPM is a good tool but you have unique needs and whatever option offered to you should meet your needs.
How long is the credit and debt counseling_1 session? The first session should at least be an hour because a shorter amount of time is not enough to get all the income, debts and expenses.
Does the company pay the counselors for setting up a Debt Management Plan? A company that does this should be a red flag as a legitimate agency will not give a bonus for doing this as this will imply a conflict of interest.
If signed up for a Debt Management Plan and they receive the first monthly payment, when will they send this to the creditors? They should send it upon receipt or it will get there late. That is why I am a proponent of do-it-yourself option as you will have an easier time to send it. By the time they open the mail and put it on a tray, it may take them time to process it before sending it to the creditors.
Will the total amount paid each month go directly to the creditors? The full amount you send should go to your creditors to pay your debt. No amount of this should be deducted that will go to the company.
What happens to the first monthly payment? Ask this question because some will keep the first one and regard it as a donation.
Are the monthly payments protected? How and will the firm provide a written proof that the company is bonded or insured?
For help in managing debt, this site may be able to help: National Foundation for Credit Counseling Remember that you don't have to pay thousands of dollars to get into a debt management plan. The amount of $50 should do it. Then you should pay no more than $25-$35 a month to stay on the plan.
Would you believe we are not done yet on this issue? But this is getting too long and I will have to beg you to bear with me so you can see and read the next issue of this series. This is too important to cut this topic short because one has to know the ins and outs before going on credit and debt counseling_1.
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