Individuals facing financial difficulties experience very different circumstances. Depending on your situation, you may want to seek credit counseling advice. However, it is important that you determine the best way to approach your situation. If you find yourself deeply in debt, a credit counseling service can assist you in making a plan and finding the resources to get control of your finances.
Choosing a Reputable Credit Counseling Service
There are some key indicators of a reputable credit counseling service to look for before signing up:
- Fee: A reputable agency will only charge you a reasonable fee. Ideally, this is under $50 per month for a debt management plan. However, this can vary by state.
- Profit focus: The credit counseling service provider should be non-profit.
- The length of service: An agency that’s been in business at least 7-10 years will have better expertise.
- Accreditation: The counselors at the credit counseling agency should be certified by an independent organization. A reputable credit counseling agency will have accreditation by the International Standards Organization (ISO) or by the Council on Accreditation (COA).
- Trade Association: 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).
- Better Business Bureau Rating: Consumers should consider checking with the Better Business Bureau for any consumer complaints made against the agency.
- Authorization: It is best that the agency you are considering is licensed and bonded to do business in your state.
- Flexibility: Not every consumer is able to afford a credit counseling service. Therefore, the agency’s willingness to waive the fees if the need arises is important.
- The length of counseling sessions: A comprehensive credit counseling service needs to spend enough time with their client. The service will ideally include both a consultation and a budgeting session. The certified counselors will need to spend at least an hour of their time with you to understand your situation.
Things to Remember
Financial education is a key component of a good credit counseling service. This can help you learn how to manage your finances. They should also provide you free ongoing education while on the debt management program. 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.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.