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Debt Management & Credit Counseling

PostPosted:Fri May 07, 2010 4:51 pm
by xavipedro02
People typically go to a credit card counseling service when their payments become impossible to maintain. Perhaps you are a college student or recently suffered a medical hardship. Even if you are just bad with money, these organizations can help you get your life back on track. Most importantly, however, is to reach out for help before the debt is sold to a collection company. At this point, counseling services most likely cannot help you.

Who Administers?
Most debt management and credit counseling organizations are non-profit. They may stand alone or could be part of your workplace, credit union or university. Some handle credit card transactions alone, while others will help with medical bills and student loans. These services may work with you by phone, Internet or in person at offices.

Sign-Up
Your first visit will be a consultation that lasts about an hour. Reputable credit counseling companies thoroughly review the debt, help create a budget and recommend a debt management plan (DMP), if necessary. Through a DMP, the counselors negotiate with the credit card companies, often getting a lower interest rate and waived fees. The customer then pays a monthly amount to the counselors, who then pay the credit card companies. These services often come with a small fee, if any.

How It Works?
Through counseling and a debt management plan, you can start chipping away at your debt. Depending on the amount of debt, this can take a few months, a couple of years, or more. Users of this service should keep a watchful eye on credit card statements to ensure that these companies comply with the counseling service's DMP.

Warning
Some companies are out for profit only and can put a customer in worse shape. Signs of these type of companies include those that charge high upfront fees, don't fully review credit reports before assigning a DMP, or those that sign you up with a DMP before creditors' approval. Reliable services will be endorsed by the Better Business Bureau and will educate consumers on budgeting practices to prevent further debt troubles.