How do I choose which credit counselor is right for me?
Answer: There are several things you should consider when trying to find a credit counseling service. A reputable credit counseling agency would be willing to send you free information about itself and the services it provides without requiring you to provide any details about your situation or make an upfront payment.
Here are examples of some questions to ask to help you find the best credit counseling service for you:
Are they licensed to offer services in my state?
Ask them if they carry a current license to offer these services in your state of residence.
What services does the organization offer?
Look for an organization that offers a range of services, including budget counseling, and savings and debt management classes.
Does the organization offer in-person counseling?
Consider finding an organization that does offer in-person counseling.
Does the organization offer free educational materials?
Avoid organizations that charge for information.
What are the fees the organization charges?
Are there set-up or monthly fees? Get a specific price quote in writing.
What if you can’t afford to pay the organization’s fees or make contributions?
If an organization won’t help you because you can’t afford to pay, look elsewhere for help.
Does the organization provide a formal written agreement or contract with consumers?
Don’t sign anything without reading it first. Make sure all verbal promises are also in writing. As with any financial product or service, don’t sign anything that you don’t understand.
How are the organization’s employees paid?
Are the employees paid more if you sign up for certain services, if you pay a fee, or if you make a contribution to the organization? Or is the company wholly unwilling to share this information? If the answer is yes, consider both to be red flags and go elsewhere for help.
Does this organization suggest a debt management plan (DMP) as your only option before they have spent time analyzing your financial situation?
If the answer is yes, consider going elsewhere. In a debt management plan, you deposit money each month with a credit counseling organization. The organization pays your credit card bills and other debts according to a payment schedule they’ve worked out with you and your creditors.
If you do end up choosing a debt management plan, contact your creditors and confirm that they have accepted the proposed plan before you send any payments to the organization handling your debt management plan.
If you have an issue with a consumer financial product or service, you can submit a complaint to the CFPB online or call us at 855-411-2372. We’ll forward your complaint to the company and work to get a response from them.