If you are considering using a credit counselor to help you get things back on track and work to get your debts paid, then you should be asking the right questions. Once you have asked the right questions, you will have answers that you can use to help you determine which credit counseling service is right for you.
Remember if you are thinking about using a credit counseling service it is important that you find the right one. One firm may be charging you hundreds of dollars for things that another agency might be doing for a lot less money. It pays to ask questions and listen to the answers before you sign up.
An educated consumer will understand what they are getting into and be prepared for outcome. Credit Counseling Agencies can hurt your credit as much as help you if they don’t do it properly.
Questions to ask:
1. What do your services cost? Be looking for answers that show complete fees. Some companies give you a price but then charge you fees for other work that is done. They don’t always tell you about those fees.
2. How do you determine what is the amount of my payment? You want to make sure that they explain to you how they figure out what you have to pay and what they will be paying to your creditors.
3. What happens if you sign up and the payment that they figure out for you is more than you can afford? Many people have signed up only to find out that they can’t get their payments under what they can afford.
4. How does the debt payment plan work? There are many questions that go along with this one question. (How do I know that my creditors have been paid? How do I know that the creditors have received their payments? Is my money put into a different account than your operating funds so that my money is used to pay my creditors and not your bills?)
5. How often do I get updates on my accounts? Can I access that information by phone or online?
6. Can you get my creditors to reduce the interest or eliminate it altogether and can you get them to waive their late fees and finance charges?
7. Is this the only option that I have or do you have anything else that I might be able to do regarding my debt?
8. What happens if I am unable to continue with this agreement? What if I become injured or disabled and can’t continue to make my payments?
9. Are there any debts that won’t be able to be included into this agreement? Watch out for agencies that tell you that several of your debts won’t qualify for the program. The program may not be right for you if they can’t help you completely.
10. Who will be helping me plan out the payment of the debts and working with me as we pay things off completely.
11. Who is going to be helping me if there are problems with the creditors or my accounts?
12. What protection do you have regarding all of the personal and private information you will have? I have concerns about Identity Theft.
These are questions that will help you determine if the agency can help you. If the questions make the people at the agency nervous then be aware that an ethical agency will not be afraid to answer those questions because you are looking at all things that could happen. Protect yourself and your information at all costs. Don’t give out any personal information that is not required. Unethical agencies have used the personal information to steal identities and also take your money as they “work” on your file. But in the long run the agency did not make any payments and just put you into a worse situation. Don’t hesitate to walk away before signing up if you are not comfortable.