Credit counseling companies come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you are looking at working with a local credit counseling organization or a national credit counseling organization there are some very important factors to calculate before choosing the right credit counseling option for you. Here is a list of questions for you to ask a credit counseling company before determining whether or not you should participate with their organization.
One of the most important aspects of a credit counseling organization is what types of money management services do they provide? Ask the credit counseling company if they have an education program in place. Ask the credit counseling organization if they offer this service free to any individual that is interested in getting assistance with their finances. It is very important that the credit counseling organization that you choose to work with offers this service at no cost. It is also very important to make sure that the credit counseling organization doesn’t require your participation in their credit counseling services or otherwise known as a “Debt Management Plan” in order to receive their educational services at no cost.
Credit counseling fees vary from one agency to another. Make sure to ask the credit counseling organization for a breakdown of their fees. Some credit counseling organization require large up front deposits or payments to enroll you on their plan. Credit counseling organizations are regulated by many states as far as what they can charge as a “start up” fee. Some credit counseling organizations require that the first payment that you send to your creditors actually goes to them. This is an unfair practice that some credit counseling organizations have abused in the past. For example, if your monthly payment is $500 to your creditors through the credit counseling organization they would keep the first $500 as their “Start Up” fee. This is unfair because the next consumer of the same credit counseling organization might only have a 100$ monthly fee. Therefore that person receives the same benefit as you from the credit counseling organization for $400 less than what you paid to start the plan. Ask the credit counseling organization if they follow the state regulated fee structure for your area. Credit counseling organizations should adhere to all state laws. It’s best to ask this right away.
Credit counseling is all about you and your financial situation. When it’s your dollars at stake make sure to ask the credit counseling organization about what type of customer service they provide. Credit counseling organizations should have someone available for you to talk to during all business hours of the day. Be leery of a credit counseling organization that requires you to leave a message in order to speak to customer service. This can be a sign that the credit counseling organization is shorthanded and having difficulty keeping up with their clients needs.
Rick Munster is the Media Planner for Debt Reduction Services, http://www.debtreductionservices.com . He resides and works in Boise, ID.