According to a recent survey released by Reuters, over two-thirds of American households are living paycheck to paycheck. And the consumer debt statistics are just as bleak. With so many Americans struggling to develop a workable budget, it’s no surprise that many find a need for bankruptcy and many more seek the advice of a credit counselor each year.
Reputable credit counseling agencies can help you repair your financial health. Unfortunately, there are questionable counselors who charge excessive fees while failing to provide the services they advertise. If you’re looking to see what a credit counseling agency can do for you, consider these tips during your search.
Find a Good Credit Counseling Agency
Reputable credit counselors will help you learn about money management, budgeting, how to handle debt, and steps that you can take to avoid bankruptcy. When choosing an agency:
- Ask about service fees and charges up front. Many scams will try to obtain your personal and financial information before disclosing their services and fees. If this is the case, look elsewhere. Legitimate credit counseling agencies should be able to tell you up front about services, fees, and how they earn their revenue.
- Check to see if they’re a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. Members of these groups are held to ethical and financial standards that benefit consumers.
- Compare with other agencies. The first credit-counseling agency you speak with might not necessarily be the best one. By comparing services, you’re more likely to get a better deal. If you’re struggling with bankruptcy, find an agency that specializes in bankruptcy cases.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau. By checking with national and state consumer agencies to see if there are any pending legal complaints or investigations, you can easily eliminate fraudulent agencies. After all, you don’t want to risk your financial health.
- See if they offer substantive education. You don’t simply want credit counseling to help get you out of a financial mess. They should also be able provide education so that you may prosper financially in the future.