information on How to Choose a Credit Counseling Agency

How to Choose a Credit Counseling Agency

New Year's Eve is the time for partying and being merry. On New Year's Day, most of us will start to write our resolutions and goals for the brand new year. In fact, most of our thoughts are mainly on what changes we can make in the New Year to make our lives better. Most resolutions revolve around similar things like losing weight, quitting smoking or drinking. Many of us will be thinking how to get our finances back on track.

In order for you to get your personal finances back on track, you need a concrete plan to put into action to make that happen. You may want to use these methods to help you save more money and improve your financial situation.

With an increasing number of Americans unemployed, in debt and facing foreclosure or bankruptcy, it's inevitable that a negative credit score will collide with job seeking efforts. Just as a low credit score can hurt your chances of getting a mortgage or credit, it can hurt your chances of getting a job.

It’s easy to get into debt. It’s much harder to get out of it.

Fortunately, there are credit counseling agencies that can help you get your finances in order. They can help you figure out a budget and stick to it while managing your debt and avoiding future financial pitfalls.

However, not all credit counseling agencies are the same. Some offer free or low-cost services while others charge high fees or might not be trustworthy. The following tips will help you choose the right credit counseling agency.

Look for Agencies with a Good Reputation

Most reputable credit counseling agencies are nonprofits that offer free or low-cost services. However, the fact that an agency is a nonprofit does not guarantee that it is affordable or that it has a good reputation. Here are some tips for selecting a credit agency you can trust:

  • Ask family members and friends if they can recommend an agency. It’s best to pick one that has been around for several years and has a well-established reputation.
  • Use credit agencies or credit counseling services referred by credit unions, banks, universities or military bases.
  • Choose a credit agency that’s been approved by the Federal Government.

You can also check out state and local consumer agencies to find out if a credit agency has complaints.

Compare Services and Costs

Once you have a list of agencies you can trust, the next step is to take a closer look at the services and costs they offer so that you can choose the one that best serves your needs. Be careful with credit agencies that charge high fees for services that you can get for free somewhere else.

Some of the most common services offered by credit agencies include:

  • Professional, person-to-person assistance with managing your money and debt.
  • Help putting together a family budget and sticking to it.
  • Free workshops and educational material.

Ask Lots of Questions

Before finally choosing a credit agency, it’s worth writing down a list of questions you might have so that you can avoid surprises such as hidden fees or limited services. Here are some questions to help you pick the right credit agency.

  • Are there different fees for different services? Some agencies might charge for initial consultations or a monthly fee. Be careful with agencies that pay their employees more depending on the services you sign up for.
  • Will you be signing a contract before getting counseling? If so, be sure to read the contract before signing it.
  • Does the agency have the right certifications to provide credit counseling? It’s best to use agencies that have been certified by independent organizations.
  • What is the privacy policy of the agency? It’s important that your personal and financial information is protected. 

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