Q: What are my client rights and responsibilities?
A: Client Rights and Responsibilities
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is committed to helping you determine the best way to approach your financial situation and provide you with the most suitable service options to consider.
YOUR RIGHTS – When in contact with ACCC, you should expect that you will:
- Receive prompt counseling services for managing money based on your financial situation with consistent enforcement of all program rules and expectations
- Be treated with respect and dignity, irrespective of culture, language, age, disability and/or lifestyle
- Be consulted about your needs and preferences, and be able to refuse or accept assistance
- Be actively involved in a comprehensive assessment of your financial situation including an appropriate action plan
- Be able to ask questions and have your concerns addressed
- Allowed to review your plan as needed through our secure website or by contacting our office during regular business hours
- Have the ability to express dissatisfaction through a Complaint Resolution Process without interference or retaliation
- Be able to discontinue your relationship with our agency at any time
- Have access to information about any other services that may be of assistance and be free to choose services from available alternatives to enable you to make informed choices
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES – As a client participating in our services you will be expected to:
- Respect the rights, privacy and dignity of ACCC staff and other clients
- Accurately provide ACCC with all the necessary information needed to recommend a suitable action plan for you
- Read and understand the program details and adhere to the requirements of the program
- Ask questions to ensure clarity and understanding throughout the relationship
- Advise us promptly of any changes to your contact information or financial situation
- Acknowledge it is your choice to participate in our services and honor agreements made with ACCC staff about service provision and support
- Take responsibility for yourself and the results of any decisions you make while working with ACCC
Q: What can I expect from my counseling session?
A: What to Expect from Your Financial Counseling Session
ACCC will help to understand and analyze your current situation and provide you with viable options to address your concerns. ACCC provides the counseling session including a budget and action plan at no charge. If after you complete the counseling, you choose to enroll in an ACCC program, minimal fees are charged to support the program.
A professional certified counselor will help you:
- Review your current financial situation including your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities
- Discuss possible options based on your goals for the session, which may include social service referrals, educational materials, working directly with your creditors, and a review of ACCC’s available services which include:
- Budget Counseling
- Debt Management Program
- Bankruptcy Counseling (Pre-filing and Post-Education Discharge Certificates)
- Student Loan Counseling
- Housing Counseling (Reverse Mortgage and Online First Time Homebuyer Certification)
ACCC is here to help you develop an action plan to address your situation and you are under no obligation to participate in any of our programs or services. At the end of the counseling session you will feel good knowing that there are options available and that you are not alone.
For a successful session, please gather your most recent bills, statements, correspondence with creditors, and pay stubs. It is important that you provide complete and accurate information so that we can identify the options that will best address your situation.
|Hours of Operation
Toll-Free Phone: 800-769-3571
(see extensions list below)
|Mon – Thurs||Friday||Saturday|
|Debt and Budget Counseling x1910||9am – 11:30pm||9am – 8pm||10am – 6pm|
|Student Loan Counseling x1924||9am – 8pm||9am – 5pm||Closed|
|Bankruptcy Counseling * x1916||9:30am-5:30pm||9:30am-5:30pm||Closed|
|Housing Counseling x1918||9am – 5pm||9am – 4pm||Closed|
|Debt Management – Client Services x1912||9am – 8pm||9am – 6pm||Closed|
* online portion is open 24-hours
Q: What is your consumer complaint process?
A: Consumer Complaint Process
American Consumer Credit Counseling is committed to providing high quality professional services. However, if you are not satisfied with the services provided or if you want to make a complaint, please give us the opportunity to address your issue. You are free to lodge your complaint without risk of interference or retaliation. We ask that you follow these guidelines:
Step One: Try to resolve the issue with the staff member involved, giving him or her specific information about your complaint and the resolution that you are seeking.
Step Two: If the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, request to speak to a supervisor or a manager of the department, or submit your request in writing or in person
Step Three: If your issue is still unresolved, you may appeal in writing directly to the Quality and Compliance Manager at email@example.com. After additional fact finding, you will be notified of a final decision within 15 days.
Q: What is the cost of your counseling and budget consultation?
A: Our counseling session and budget consultation is free. Our counselors will provide you with a free analysis to help assess your financial situation and determine your best options.
Q: Do you loan money?
A: No. ACCC is not a lending institution. We work with creditors on your behalf to establish an affordable new payment arrangement, which may include benefits such as a reduced interest rate and no late or overlimit fees, allowing you to pay off your debt more quickly. We collect one monthly payment from you and disburse your payments to your respective creditors.
Q: What is the cost of the Debt Management Program?
A: ACCC does not charge a fee for budget counseling. There is a one-time fee of $39 for enrollment into the debt management program. The enrollment fee may be waived or reduced depending on your state’s regulations or financial hardship. There is also a monthly maintenance fee of $7 per account with a minimum of $7 and a maximum of $70. The monthly maintenance fee may be waived or reduced depending on your state’s regulations or financial hardship. As a non-profit agency, the fees help to defray the cost of providing services to the many enrolled individuals. ACCC prides itself in having the lowest effective fee structure in the industry.
Q: What kinds of debt can be put in a Debt Management Program?
A: Our Debt Management Program can help you with unsecured debts such as credit cards, department store cards, medical bills, signature loans, and many collection accounts.
Q: What are the benefits of a Debt Management Program?
A: Our DMP enables you to regain control of your finances by working with you to create a livable household budget and combining your monthly bills into one easy and affordable payment to ACCC that will be disbursed to each of your creditors. ACCC has established relationships with creditors that allow us to offer program benefits according to each creditor’s guidelines. Most creditors do offer program benefits, which may include lower interest rates, stopping late and overlimit fees, and reaging delinquent accounts to reflect a positive current status.
Q: What will my new interest rates be?
A: Program interest rates are pre-determined by the individual creditors that you have. For more specific information regarding the benefits a particular creditor offers, please speak to one of our credit counselors at (800) 769-3571, ext. 1910.
Q: When will my interest rates start to go down?
A: Many creditors will lower the interest rate immediately upon acceptance of a Debt Management Proposal. Others may wait for three consecutive program payments to post on your account before lowering the interest rate.
Q: What does re-aging an account mean?
A: Once your debt management proposal is accepted by the creditor, and generally after making three consecutive payments, many creditors will reage a delinquent account to show as current on your credit report. Federal law prohibits creditors from reaging an account more than once in a five-year period.
Q: How do I get started with your program?
A: The fastest way to get started is to contact us at our toll-free number, (800) 769-3571, ext. 1910. Counselors are available to assist you Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 10:30 pm, Friday from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, and Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (Eastern Time). To get a head start on the process, you may fill out the budget form before speaking directly with a counselor.
Q: How long will it take to complete the program?
A: A Debt Management Program is designed to complete in approximately 4-5 years based on the minimum required program payments. However the length of the program will be determined by the total amount of your debt, your specific creditors, and whether you can send extra funds as you become more financially stable.
Q: What happens to my total payment when one of my accounts is paid off?
A: Your total monthly payment will remain the same throughout the life of the program. As one account is paid off, the funds for that creditor will automatically be reallocated in a way that is most beneficial to you, which is generally to the account with the highest interest rate. On the last page of your budget, there is an Amortization Schedule showing your estimated program completion date, assuming no payments have been missed during the program and all proposals are accepted in a timely manner by the creditors. For more information, please contact the Client Services Department at (800) 769-3571, ext. 1912.
Q: Can I still use my credit cards once I’m enrolled in the program?
A: No. All accounts entered in the Debt Management Program will be closed. In order to get out of debt and regain financial stability, you must stop incurring new debt.
Q: Do I need to cancel credit card insurance?
A: Yes. Most creditors will not accept a Debt Management Proposal without first having the client cancel credit card insurance. If a creditor agrees to a program, but is still charging a credit insurance fee, then it will take longer to pay off the account because a portion of your payment will be used to pay the charge instead of your balance. Please review your account statements and contact your creditor to cancel any insurance charges that appear.
Q: Will my creditors still send me statements?
A: Yes. You will continue to receive monthly statements from your creditors, as usual. The statements will reflect payments made through the Debt Management Program. Please review your monthly statements to make sure you receive accurate benefits from your creditors, as indicated on your ACCC Payment Summary sheet. If you notice a problem, you must notify ACCC immediately. ACCC is not responsible for issues or errors that are not reported in a timely manner. If you are not receiving statements and your creditor refuses to send them, it is your responsibility to contact your creditor to check the status of your account. Specifically, check to see that payments are posting on time, that the program interest rate is in effect, that you are not getting unnecessary fees, and/or any past due amounts. If there are any issues, please contact our Client Services Department at (800) 769-3571, ext. 1912.
Q: Can I make payments on my own, once I join the program?
A: No. It is recommended that once the program begins that all payments be made through the Debt Management Program. Payments made directly to the creditors could be viewed as a termination from our program by the creditor and may result in an increase in the interest rates. If you want to send additional funds, please contact the Disbursement Department at (800) 769-3571, ext. 1912. They will be happy to assist you with this as part of our service to you.
Q: How will your program affect my credit or credit score?
A: When entering the Debt Management Program, you will be advised to close all of your open lines of unsecured credit, so that you will not incur any new debt while trying to solve your current debt problems. Initially, this may cause a drop in your credit score. However, you can expect your credit score to improve on the debt management program if you follow the rules of the program, do not open any new debt, and commit to making on-time payments. The combination of on-time payment and a reduction in total debt should have a positive impact on your score.
While you are on the program, some creditors may place a notation on your credit report indicating that your account is being managed through credit counseling. This is a neutral notation that does not affect your credit score, which is what most lenders use to determine creditworthiness. The way this notation is viewed by individual creditors varies. Some creditors may view the “CC” notation as a negative when making a decision to extend new credit; however, you are strongly advised against opening any new lines of credit while participating in the program, as your ultimate goal is to become debt-free.
The CC notation is usually removed by the creditors when you complete or terminate the program and, if it is not, you may contact the credit bureaus to have the inaccurate information removed. We recommend that you review your credit report approximately 60 days after completion/termination of the program, to ensure that all information is being accurately reported.
Q: Is ACCC a credit repair company?
A: ACCC is not a credit repair company and has not represented that it will advise or assist you in the modification, improvement or correction of credit entries on your credit reports. No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report. The law allows you to ask for an investigation of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete. For more information on credit reports and scoring see the FTC’s website.
Q: Is my information kept confidential?
Q: What credentials do you have?
A: ACCC is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). As a member, we are required to be accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), which demonstrates a commitment to the industry and organizational best practices ensuring that we deliver high-quality services to consumers. In addition, we are an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau with an A+ Rating. We are registered, licensed and bonded to legally operate in all 50 states.
Q: What is your rating with the Better Business Bureau?
A: ACCC has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. To view ACCC’s Reliability Report directly, you may click on the following link: www.betterbusinessbureau.org.
Q: How is ACCC Funded?
A: ACCC receives financial support through voluntary Fair Share and Grant contributions from creditors who participate in our Debt Management Program. However, we work with all creditors who are willing to accept our payments and offer benefits to our clients, regardless of whether or not the creditor provides financial support to ACCC.
Q: Is this program similar to bankruptcy?
A: No. Bankruptcy is a negative remark that stays on a consumer’s credit report for 7-10 years and negatively affects creditworthiness, whereas a neutral Credit Counseling notation is removed once someone completes the program. Through a Debt Management Plan, many creditors will report your account as current once your proposal is accepted and there is a consistent payment history, thus improving your credit rating. For more information regarding the differences between Debt Management and Bankruptcy, please consult with a credit counselor at (800) 769-3571, ext. 1910 .
Q: How do I add an account to my existing DMP program?
A: To add an account to your existing program, you may call us at the number listed below or send your request by fax, mail or email (email statements in PDF format only). Please make sure that your request includes all of the following information:
Most recent statement, collections letter or current information (not older than 60 days)
Client ID number or SSN
Name of the account owner(s)
(Note: Was the account opened in the name of the client, co-client, or is it a joint account?)
FULL account number
(Note: not all e-statements show the full account number)
Monthly payment owed
Current interest rate
Date to begin paying the account (first payment due date/eft draw date)
(Note: Please allow approximately one week for the add account process.)
Please see the following information regarding sending in add account information. CALL (800) 769-3571 x1912 and have above information available, or have any questions; FAX: (617) 564-9301, ATTN: Add Accounts; EMAIL: Clients can also send scanned statements to: firstname.lastname@example.org; MAIL: ACCC, Attn: Add Accounts, 130 Rumford Ave, Suite 202, Auburndale, MA 02466
Q: How do I know if a creditor accepts the Debt Management Proposal?
A: Many creditors will send a letter informing you of the acceptance of a debt management proposal. Another way is to check your credit card statements. Lower interest rates and suspension of late fees indicate the creditors’ acceptance of the debt management proposal. You may also check the status of your accounts on our website (www.consumercredit.com) or call Client Services at (800) 769-3571, ext. 1912.
Q: What if one of my accounts is transferred to another credit card company?
A: If a creditor sells your account to another company, they must notify you in writing. Should you receive notification of this, you must contact our Client Services Department immediately. Client Services will then make the necessary changes to ensure the new creditor is informed of your participation in our Debt Management Program and that your payment is being sent to the correct place.
Q: What if a creditor doesn't agree to participate?
A: Unfortunately it is the decision of a creditor whether or not to accept a debt management proposal. If the creditor will not accept a proposal, they may accept the full standard monthly payment through our program, but offer no benefits. If a creditor refuses to accept your payments through a debt management company, then that individual account must be removed. You will then need to send your regular monthly payments directly to the creditor.
Q: How will a creditor know I joined the Debt Management Program?
A: ACCC will send debt management proposals to your creditors, just prior to sending your first payment. The proposal stands as official notification to your creditors that you have sought the assistance of ACCC.
Q: What happens if I cannot handle my payments while in your program?
A: In order to assess your current financial situation and determine the best course of action, please contact our Recounseling Department at 800-769-3571, extension 1923.
Q: What is my username and password to access my account online?
A: For first time users, a temporary username and password have been emailed to you. Please use this temporary information to access your account. This temporary information will expire in 72 hours. You will then be prompted to change your username and password. Please visit us at Consumercredit.com, and click on “Client Login.”
Q: Why am I being charged late fees and/or over limit fees?
A: There could be several reasons why a creditor is still charging fees. If you see a fee on your current credit card statement, please contact our Client Services Department immediately at (800) 769-3571, ext. 1912, so that the issue can be addressed with your creditor. Please note that any fees that were accrued BEFORE your proposals have been accepted and you have started the program continue to be your responsibility.
Q: Did you receive my payment?
A: You can access all of your payment information online via our website at www.consumercredit.com. If you require additional assistance you may contact the Disbursements Department at (800) 769-3571, ext. 1912.
Q: What does it mean to make a difference payment to the creditor?
A: Making the difference payment to a creditor helps to keep your account current until the proposal is accepted. The difference payment to a creditor is to ensure that the creditor is receiving their full payment so you do not fall behind. If a creditor requires a minimum payment of $80, but ACCC is proposing $70, it is important that you, the client, pay the difference of $10 directly to the creditor, while ACCC sends $70 so in total the creditor is still receiving full payment. It is important that you, the client, continue to make these difference payments until you have received notification that the creditor has accepted the account on the program. If you have any questions regarding what your difference payments are, please contact our Client Service Department at (800) 769-3571 Ext. 1912.
Q: To whom do I make my check payable to and what address do I send it?
A: Please make your check or money order payable to American Consumer Credit Counseling or ACCC, and send to ACCC, 130 Rumford Avenue, Suite. 202, Auburndale, MA 02466-1371. Please be sure to include your ACCC Client Number or social security number.