by: Michael Saunders
The fact that there are so many bad credit counseling companies out there shouldn't make you avoid them entirely if you could benefit from legitimate help. If you're already behind on your bills, unable to make minimum payments, borrowing from one card to pay another, or otherwise demonstrating signs of extreme financial distress, credit counseling might be preferable to bankruptcy.
Credit counseling is not a good option if you're current on your bills and able to pay more than the minimums. Credit counseling itself won't hurt your credit score, but the reactions of some of your lenders might. In short, you need to tread carefully. Here are some of the things you need to consider before signing up with a credit counselor:
1. Is it accredited? You'll want a counselor affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. You can find affiliated agencies.
2. What do regulators say about it? At a minimum, make two calls: one to your local Better Business Bureau and one to your state attorney general's office. Ask how many complaints have been made about the agency and see if any regulatory actions are pending against them.
3. What does the agency say about its services? Avoid an outfit that says credit counseling will have no negative impact on your credit or one that promises to settle your debts for less than you owe without affecting your credit. Such unrealistic promises are a clear sign that you're not dealing with a legitimate operator. (continued...)
5 Essential Questions For A Credit Counseling Service Before Engaging Their Services
About The Author
“I think, by 2018, there’s an opportunity for New Orleans to be viewed around the country, around the world, as a hub of entrepreneurship for the South,” says Tim Williamson, the CEO and cofounder of incubator The Idea Village, referring to the year the city will celebrate its 300th anniversary.