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American Consumer Credit Counseling Survey finds Most Americans Lacking Education on Retirement and Investing

While over three quarters of consumers know how to budget, few understand how to effectively optimize retirement funds, recover from identity theft and purchase/monitor stock investments according to ACCC poll.

Boston, MA (April 24, 2013) — Many American consumers are struggling to understand some of the more complex financial education topics including identity theft and retirement according to a recent poll conducted by national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling. The ACCC survey conducted during National Financial Literacy Month, found that nearly 8 in 10 consumers surveyed reported that they do not know how to recover from identity theft, while 80 percent are unclear about how to effectively optimize their retirement funds.

However, of the 236 consumers surveyed in the recent ACCC web poll at ConsumerCredit.com, 76 percent know how to create a budget, one of the most essential financial tools for those looking to develop better spending habits and get financially fit.

“While the high number of consumers that are able to create a budget is encouraging, this survey highlights an ongoing need to educate consumers on more complex financial decisions,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling, which is based in Newton, Mass. “Our economy is still recovering and many consumers are not thinking of their financial profile in ten or twenty years. But the truth is, knowing how to effectively invest and save for retirement now are critical components of ensuring a financially healthy future.”

Surprisingly, 63 percent of all those polled by ACCC said they know how to dispute a credit report error, a mistake that, according to a recent Federal Trade Commission study, might affect the credit score of one in four Americans.

“In an era when nearly 40 million consumers have a mistake on their credit report, more and more individuals are arming themselves with the necessary financial education to combat these errors,” Trumble said. “There is no reason a consumer should be negatively impacted by false information on their report. These errors can affect one’s ability to purchase a car, obtain a loan or even attend school.”

And it is not just credit reporting errors that can impact one’s credit score. When asked about identity theft, 78 percent of respondents indicated that they do not know how to recover from this crime, which has affected 27.3 million Americans in the last five years.

“Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America,” said Trumble. “The best piece of advice for any consumer to ensure that they do not fall victim is to review your credit score. This will help identify any misuse of credit cards and can also lead to identifying lines of credit that were opened under your name.”

All consumers are entitled to a free annual copy of their credit report from the three major credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. To request this report and get more information, visit AnnualCreditReport.com.

The financially fit poll was the latest in a series of ACCC web surveys for 2013 that focus on a variety of financial education, budgeting and planning topics. American Consumer Credit Counseling’s certified and experienced counselors offer a variety of financial education, counseling and debt management services to help consumers achieve long-term financial health and stability.

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) provides nonprofit credit counseling, debt management services, credit relief and debt relief help to consumers nationwide. Our free credit counseling services help individuals and families learn how to manage debt more effectively and how to get rid of debt more quickly. Our certified credit counselors show consumers the various ways to pay off debt, and we offer affordable debt management programs for getting rid of credit card debt by consolidating debt payments. Our debt negotiation services help with managing credit card debt and paying off debt more quickly by reducing interest rates and finance charges. And our financial education services help consumers manage money more effectively, find reputable debt consolidation companies and answer questions like "How do you consolidate debt?"

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