Tips Before Dealing With Credit Counselor
If you’ve been battling with your debt for some time now and you don’t feel like you are making any progress, you may be tempted to turn towards a credit counselor for assistance. However, before you rush off to meet with the nearest credit counselor, you should take the time to do a little research to avoid potential problems.
As you conduct your due diligence on the credit counselors in your area, consider the following tips to help make the process as painless as possible:
Call Your Creditors Directly.
That’s right, the first step in the process should really be to call each of your creditors directly and discuss your options. Rather than rely on the promises of some unknown credit counselor, you may find that your creditors are more than willing to establish a payment plan or some other form of repayment that will work for everyone. You might be thinking that your creditors will not be willing to work with you but sometimes all you have to do is ask.
Upfront Fees Are Red Flags.
You’ve called your creditors and still feel the credit counselor is your best option. Okay, just be wary of any credit counselor that is charging you upfront fees. In most cases, upfront fees are a sign that you are not dealing with a nonprofit credit counselor that is going to create a plan with your best interests in mind.
Focus Should Be On You.
If you are dealing with a legitimate credit counselor, they should be taking some time to gain an understanding of your whole financial picture and will likely offer an education in the process. The shady credit counselors will typically try to rush right into their debt consolidation plan without taking the time to look at your situation. Again, this is a clear sign that the credit counselor is looking at their bottom line and is not focused on helping you.
Check Their Credentials.
Before committing to anything, you should check the Better Business Bureau and your state’s consumer affairs department to get a background on the company. It will be much better for you if you learn of any complaints or problems with the company before you commit to any plans. In addition, do not be afraid to ask the counselors themselves about their education and training. After all, you are putting a lot of faith into these people so you want to know they are trained to do the job correctly.
These few tips can go a long way towards making your experience with a credit counselor much more satisfying. Often times, when you rush into a decision due to stress and despair, you will only be compounding the problem. Be sure to take a step back and evaluate whether you are making a sound decision.
IMO, credit counselors should be a last resort as I truly believe just about anyone can dig themselves out of their debt situation. While there are certainly exceptions, in most cases it comes down to the fact that people are not willing to make the difficult sacrifices that are often required. But for those that do turn to credit counselors, it is vital to be sure you are dealing with a legitimate company.