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How to Find a Reputable Credit Counselling Service

One that will not harm your credit score!

If you find that you have started living from one pay check to the next, or have become worried about keeping to a budget, then you should start seeking out a good credit counsellor before you fall behind on your credit card bills and loan payments. 

Credit counselling organizations of high repute are able to successfully advise you in managing your debts and your cash flow, assist you in creating a workable budget which you can actually stick to, and provide you with no cost workshops and other educational materials.  

Request an Upfront Counselling Meeting

Their staff will be filled by highly trained and certified credit counsellors who are well versed in debt and money management, consumer credit issues, and budgeting matters. You can expect them to thoroughly review and talk over your whole financial situation with you as they help you create a specific plan to attack your money problems head on. These upfront counselling meetings commonly take an hour. They will always offer you follow up sessions to continue the discussions and review the working progress of your particular plan. 

Get Free Information About Them First

You will know a reputable credit counselling organization by the way that they offer you completely free information on themselves and their services without asking for you to give them any personal details or information on your scenario. Firms that will not do this are waving red flags. Look elsewhere for your help. 

A number of military bases, universities, housing authorities, credit unions, and U.S. Cooperative Extensive Service branches will run not for profit credit counselling programs. Your bank or local consumer protection agency can also help to refer good outfits. After you obtain a list of counselling organizations that you can work with, you should run each name by your local consumer protection agency (like the BBB) and your state’s Attorney General office. 

They will know if other consumers have raised complaints about them. 

Check With the U.S. Trustee Program

Remember that just because no complaints have been filed does not guarantee their legitimacy. Fortunately, the U.S. Trustee Program maintains a list of reputable credit counselling organizations that are fully approved to deliver pre-bankruptcy counselling. You can rely on all of these organizations to be honest as they have been both thoroughly vetted and have proven themselves time and again.

Once you have completed your background due diligence, you should interview your final short list of candidates. The majority of reputable credit counselling organizations are actually not for profit outfits. This helps them to provide their service in person via local offices. Otherwise they can give you these services either over the phone or even online. 

Be forewarned that not for profit status does not mean that all services will be affordable, free, or even legitimate. Some credit counselling outfits assess considerable fees. They might hide these. Others will ask (and even pressure) their customers to give so-called “voluntary” contributions. These can lead to still higher debt.

What Is Credit Counselling?

If you feel like you need additional help in managing your finances and debt, credit counselling is a good choice for you. Credit counselling is actually a phone call with a licensed credit counsellor that takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. 

This is a free resource which not for profit financial educational organizations offer you and other consumers. 

In the call, the counsellor will go through your consumer debt, credit reports, and budget with you. Their goal is to help you better your financial situation by offering you advice and feedback on improving your own unique situation. This could include providing you with resources and tools to assist you in regaining control over your finances. 

They can do this through offering more specialized counselling such as credit and debt counselling, mortgage counselling, student loan counselling, and other types of help. 

One thing that credit counselling does not automatically include is a debt management plan. Debt management assists you in becoming free from debt quicker through reducing your interest rates and coming up with a repayment schedule. 

A DMP would negatively impact your credit reports and score significantly. 

This is why such a solution should only be offered as a matter of last resort. You should be wary of any credit counsellors who suggest that a debt management plan is your best and only choice.