Consumer credit counseling is a program that has been around for nearly 60 years and helps educate people how to pay debts and better manage their money in the future. This program can provide a great deal of insight and aid in helping to resolve credit problems and lower interest rates.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Consumer Credit Counseling
Consider the following advantages vs. disadvantages with consumer credit counseling:
- Allows consumers to negotiate with creditors to lower payments and interest rates.
- Credit counselors usually help consumers learn about how to manage money and avoid future debt.
- Consumers may have their credit damaged and be in an even worse financial position if obligations are not strictly paid.
- Credit counselors are usually more persuasive with credit card companies than consumers, but counselors do not perform any services that are impossible for the consumer. Negotiating with credit card companies directly to lower payments and interest rates is very possible, and without having to submit to credit counseling.
How Much Does Consumer Credit Counseling Cost?
Most if not all credit counseling services claim to be non-profit. However, while credit counseling services may not charge for direct service fees, they may instead label charges under a different name, such as:
- Monthly maintenance fees
- Monthly donations
- Voluntary contributions
- Set-up fees
- Operating charges
Some of these fees may be legitimate, but it is important to always be sure to know how much of the monthly fee goes to the credit counseling company and how much will be going to creditors to pay off debts. If the answer is not clear or seems unfair, the consumer should search for a better company.
What Should I Expect When Meeting a Credit Counselor?
To be provided with the best solution possible, consumers should bring all documents showing income and debt. The credit counselor will then examine all of the documents and decide which plan may be best suited for the consumer. Before signing any documents or agreeing to join a debt management plan, consumers should be sure to ask if they can simply create a budget plan. It is not unusual that a better budget be the only solution that is necessary.
Is Credit Counseling Confidential?
Yes. Credit counselors maintain records like any other financial institution such as banks and keep all records confidential. Credit counselors are not allowed to discuss the financial situation of anyone and records will be secure.
Do I Need an Attorney to Assist Me?
An attorney with experience dealing with credit issues will be able to advise you about your debt and inform you about all possible solutions. If you have any problems with a credit counseling service, an attorney will also be able to help you.