DEBT GALORE? WHO CAN YOU TRUST?
Waunita Scott, a 27-year-old woman in the midst of a career change, has racked up some $15,000 in credit card debt. She contacted THAT MONEY SHOW with some questions about non-profit, debt management organizations that are advertising on TV. Waunita asked whether these organizations are legal, if they have good track records, if they are accredited, and whether they are feasible options for people seeking to take control of their debts.
To answer Waunita's questions, we consulted with Kathy McNally, Vice President of the National Foundation for Consumer Credit, for a quick low-down on credit counseling agencies.
These organizations are legal, and some can be very good, McNally assured. But finding a good one is another matter. When examining an organization, don't be afraid to ask the following questions:
- Is this a non-profit credit counseling agency?
- Is it accredited? If so, by whom?
- Are the counselors certified?
- How much does it cost?
For help finding a qualified, certified, non-profit counseling service, visit the National Foundation for Consumer Credit (http://www.nfcc.org/).If you decide to use the services of an agency, remember that credit counseling is not a quick fix. The counselor will try to assess how you got into debt, help you create a schedule for paying it off, and help you find ways to change your behavior so you won't get into trouble again.
Kathy also mentioned some warning signs to help you determine whether you might be a candidate for debt management counseling:
- Are your monthly debt payments more than 20% of your income?
- Do you argue with your spouse or partner about the bills?
- Do you use one credit card to pay-off another?
- Do you pay only the minimum on your credit cards?
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