Seeking help from a credit counseling agency requires careful consideration. Struggling with a difficult debt problem, the last thing you need will be to be taken advantage of by dishonest credit counseling agencies. The truth is, there are a lot of agencies in the business, some even claiming to be non-profit agencies, yet require unreasonable charges from their clients.
To avoid dealing with the wrong credit counseling agency, here are some points you need to remember:
- Ask for recommendations. If you know some friends or relatives who have been through credit counseling, you can ask their recommendation for a credible agency. If they speak from experience, these people will know best whether a particular agency provides reliable service or not.
- Check if the agency is an accredit member of a large association. A credible agency should be accredited by national organizations such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA), Council on Accreditation (COA) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
- Check from the Department of Justice. To be sure, you can seek credit counseling from an agency recommended by the Department of Justice. Visit the DOJ’s website at www.usdoj.gov/ and check from its list of approved credit counseling agencies.
- Has there been any complaint? Make sure if there has been any complaint filed against that particular agency from the BBB or from your State
Attorney General’s office.
- Choose an agency that offers a variety of services. A legitimate credit counseling agency should not be offering debt consolidation as the only solution to your debt problems. If the agency forces you to go through debt consolidation immediately without even considering your actual situation, look for a different credit counselor.
- Make sure that the agency guarantees confidentiality of your information. You will be discussing very personal information with your credit counselor so it is crucial that your privacy is duly protected.
- Don’t pay unreasonable fees. A credit counseling agency should never be asking high fees from their clients, considering that money problem
is the main reason why they seek the services in the first place. To avoid wasting your time and money, inquire about all the possible fees you will be expecting right at the start.
- A business license does not guarantee reliability. In some States, an agency is required to obtain a business license in order to operate. If you live in a state where this is the due process, make sure that the credit counseling agency is licensed one. However, this doesn’t mean that you will be letting your guard down just because the agency is licensed one. You still need to be aware in case the agency has questionable practices.
- A non-profit status does not guarantee credibility. This is an important point to remember. Some people easily let their guard down as soon as they learn that the organization is a non-profit one. However, there have been a lot of cases reported where certain non-profit credit counseling agencies ask for donations or fees for their services. It is always recommended to check on the company’s background even if it claims to be a non-profit organization. To be sure, choose the non-profit debt counseling agency that already has a long track record of being in the industry.