As one of the most underutilized resources for debtors, credit counseling agencies provide numerous services that are valuable for anyone looking to take control over their finances. Even if you aren’t suffering from overwhelming debt troubles or required to take the course as part of a bankruptcy filing, credit counselors can offer you information and tools that are sure to improve your financial future. If you are considering seeking help from a credit counselor, be sure to ask these important questions.
1. Are you a non-profit agency? A reputable credit counseling agency is one that operates as a not for profit organization. While there are numerous companies operating offering similar services, it is best to be sure you have an licensed and approved agency. Approved agencies will adhere to the guidelines under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code and are listed on the U.S. Department of Trustees website.
2. What services do you offer? It is important to work with an agency that offers a wide array of services. Any company that attempts to “sell” you on one particular service, should be viewed as suspicious. You want to find a company that offers money management courses, tools for learning about budgeting/saving, information on making smart investments, options for dealing with mortgage debts and provides ways to help you develop a debt management plan.
3. Are your counselors trained and certified? Working with an approved agency doesn’t always guarantee that their staff are adequately trained. You want to be sure that your credit counselor is fully licensed and trained in the area of financial management. Adequately trained staff will hold degrees or licenses independent of the company, such as a Certified Public Accountant or Financial Manager.