by Charlotte Wood
(last updated August 18, 2017)
Like with just about everything else in life—schooling, careers, and dating—there are agencies everywhere dedicated to giving you the best financial and credit advice possible. And like with just about everything else in life, there are bogus organizations that just want to take your money, make you look stupid, or both. If you decide to go to a credit counseling agency, make sure you do it right and protect your money, information, and financial repute.
The biggest tip in dealing with a credit counseling agency is to do your homework and do it well. Know your stuff about what you should expect from a credit agency, the services they offer, and also what others say about them. Get online and also get out there so you can find the full scoop on your various options. Credit counseling agencies should not only offer you budgeting and money management guidelines, but they should also have information and counseling available on how to avoid and get out of debt, build up good credit, and repair damaged credit. Some agencies even offer a debt consolidation plan where you pay them who in turn pay your creditors.
When beginning your credit agency search make sure that all your options are members of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA), two of the most prestigious and reliable organizations in the credit counseling industry. The accreditation process for these organizations is enough to ensure you that whatever agency you're investigating is at least legitimate. Check to see if anyone filed complaints against the agencies you're looking into and you can use that as a guideline for the level and quality of service you can expect.
It would probably benefit you to look into agencies that not only offer one-on-one counseling but also additional materials aimed to inform you on matters regarding credit and financial sense. If you can find some agencies that allow you to help yourself then you're in good shape. Another thing to decide is whether or not you need someone professional to deal with your accounts for you. Is your situation mild enough so you can handle it on your own with the right information and advice or are you in such fiscal straits that you need someone objective to handle your accounts and tell you what to do? That's more of a personal decision and one that is easily solved either way. Note, however, that if you use a professional counselor to deal with your money that you will have to pay additional fees.
Credit counseling agencies really are out there to help you out and can be a great advantage to you as you figure out your financial situation. Approach them with caution however and do as much homework on the subject as you possibly can. The more you know yourself the more you can help yourself and get yourself back on steady feet.
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