What to Look for in a Credit Counseling Agency
Here are some key indicators of a reputable credit counseling agency to look for before signing up:
- Be sure the agency is charging you reasonable fees (not more than $50/month for a debt management plan), but this can vary by State. ACCC firmly believes in keeping its set up fees as well as monthly maintenance fees as low as possible.
- The credit counseling agency should be non-profit.
- The agency should have been in business for at least seven to ten years.
- The counselors at the credit counseling agency should be certified by an independent organization.
- The agency should be accredited by the International Standards Organization (ISO) or by the Council on Accreditation (COA).
- The agency should be a member of one of the trade associations: either Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
- Consumers should consider checking with the Better Business Bureau for any consumer complaints made against the agency.
- The agency you are considering should be licensed and bonded to do business in your state.
- The agency's willingness to waive the fees if you simply can't afford them.
- The agency should spend a reasonable amount of time for your consultation/budgeting session. At least an hour is needed.
- The agency should provide you with a written budget based on your personal financial situation.
One of the most important points is to be sure that the agency offers free education to help you learn how to manage your finances. They should also provide you free ongoing education while on the debt management program or even if you decided a DMP program is not right for you. The agency should be able to provide you some financial learning resources.
If an agency is not willing to answer your questions or you feel that the answers are not satisfactory, call someone else. You want to choose an agency that is reputable and willing to help you.
ACCC meets all of the criteria of a reputable credit counseling agency. To get started with a free credit counseling session with an experienced and approved credit counseling agency that you can trust, click here.