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Reasons Why Credit Counseling Can Fail

Credit counseling can be a great way to manage debt. However, there are not always successful endings to this method. Both clients and credit counseling companies can factor into whether a person will become debt free or not. Here is a more insightful look into the reasons why credit counseling often fails.

Learn why credit counseling often fails - and how to get around it.

Learn why credit counseling often fails – and how to get around it.

3 Reasons Why Credit Counseling Often Fails

Credit counseling often starts with financial counseling. A free assessment and recommendation is made by a counselor. As a result of the assessment, you could be offered to enroll in a Debt Management Program -or DMP- through the credit counseling agency.

To qualify for a DMP, candidates must be able to cover all of their monthly expenses. Having done so, they still need money left to put towards debts. Any credit card accounts entered into the plan will be closed so no further charges can be made.

Your job doesn’t end just because you are enrolled in a debt management plan. You need to stay aware of what is happening with your accounts. You have to make sure that the agency fulfills its promises to you. Also, keep monitoring the program for accuracy. This will ensure you are receiving the benefits of the DMP.

Getting help from a debt management company to assist with your debt problems is a great way to find financial relief. However, you need to be proactive during your financial recovery process. In any debt management plan, it is important that you:

  • Make regular and timely payments to the agency.
  • Contact the agency with any contact information changes.
  • Continue to monitor your monthly statements each and every month for accuracy. Notify the agency immediately of any discrepancies.
  • If you are unable to make a scheduled payment, contact the agency immediately to discuss options.
  • If you find that the agency has neglected to make your payments, contact the agency immediately.

Now that you understand more about DMP’s, let’s take a look at a few reasons why it might not succeed.

1. The Company Isn’t Reliable

One reason why credit counseling often fails is the company. There are many companies out there, claiming miraculous financial results. Some are for-profit and some are nonprofit organizations. Choosing a company whose goal is to make money off your debt isn’t the best choice. You should also be wary of companies making amazing promises. It’s most likely too good to be true. Finally, it might fail is that things weren’t explained well enough to you or the company has other credibility issues.

Here are some important criteria to observe as you look for a credit counseling agency:

  1. Look for non-profit organizations
  2. Have been in business for at least 7 years
  3. Have a state license
  4. Charge no minimum fees
  5. Have certified counselors
  6. Are a member of one of the trade associations: either Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)

2. No Follow-Through or Change

If the company isn’t to blame, the next step is to look at how the person handled their Debt Management Plan or the advice given to them. Without the right follow-through and changes to bad financial habits, it won’t work. Being honest with the credit counselor, committing to the plan and able to make changes to your habits are essential.

3. Unexpected Life Event or Financial Disaster

Sometimes, life decides to throw a curve ball. Maybe you were all in and chose a great company. However, you or a loved one became ill and ended up with a serious amount of medical bills right in the middle of a debt reduction plan. In this case, there may have been no way to prevent a failure. Don’t feel stuck. Give the company a call and try to work out the next steps.

Sometimes people call credit counseling agencies and really just need a budget and spending adjustment. Sometimes they just aren’t ready to make changes in their life. Why credit counseling often fails really depends on the situation that person finds themselves. Finally, by choosing a reputable company and staying honest, you have good odds of succeeding in a Debt Management Program.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Michelle is a regular contributor to Talking Cents. She has taken several financial courses on debt management and is ready to circulate what she has learned from them as well as lessons from her own life- family to DIY projects to student loan debt.

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