Updated: Dec 16, 2018
If you have high debt, and are in trouble, you have probably heard the term “credit counseling,” but do you understand what it is? Often times this term is used in the same sentence as debt negotiation or debt settlement, but actually, it’s a completely different process. With credit counseling, you will actually work with a professional credit counselor to pay off your debt in lower, monthly payments that you can afford.
The people most likely to need credit counseling are those who are receiving troubling phone calls from bill collectors, or whose accounts have gone to collection agencies. If you think that you may benefit from using a service like this, please read on to find out the best way to work with a credit counseling company.
First, you’ll need to be able to find a good credit counseling company, and not fall victim to one of the many credit counseling scams that are out there. Start by avoiding any ads that promise you quick fixes for your credit report. There is no such thing. Instead, look for a reliable company that is accredited by Consumer Credit Counseling Services.
Next, you’ll have to meet with a professional credit counselor and provide them with all of the details of your debt. Don’t be tempted to leave anything out because they will need the information in order to create a re-payment plan made just for you.
Now, you can sit back and allow your professional credit counselor to work for you. They will contact all of your creditors and inform them that you are trying to create a plan that will allow you pay off your debts. They will work with them all and coordinate a re-payment schedule that you can live with. Many times, they will be able to lower your interest rates in order to allow for lower payments.
Some credit counseling services offer a debt management system. What is it? Instead of having to keep up with all of the payments yourself, you will have the option of submitting one lump sum payment to the credit counseling service and they will do it for you. One note of caution here: there have been instances of a credit counseling services paying their client’s payments late, and if that happens, your credit report will suffer for it. Knowing that, be sure to check out the company thoroughly by checking references before signing up for their debt management program.
What will you pay for all of these services? A reputable Credit Counseling Service will only charge you a small fee, somewhere around fourteen dollars per month. If they are asking for a lot of money up front, they may not have your best interests at heart. Be on the look out for potential scams.
You should also be aware that working with a credit counseling service can do some damage to your credit report. However, the good does outweigh the bad. After all, it’s much easier to explain an honest attempt to get your finances in order than it is to explain a bankruptcy or a credit report full of charge-offs.