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Debt Counseling

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A three-year study on the change in consumer financial behavior after receiving credit counseling services, revealed that consumer credit usage and payment behavior were impacted in a positive way from such counseling. The analysis of 14,000 consumers examined ten different measures of borrower behavior subsequent to counseling and found that borrowers who received this form of budget/financial counseling reduced their debt and improved their credit profile over three subsequent years, compared to similar borrowers who did not receive counseling. The study was conducted by Georgetown University Credit Research Center and Lundquist Consulting under the blessing of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and its members. TransUnion provided the measure of credit performance over the three-year period, from June 1997 to June 2000. The clients studied were those counseled by NFCC agencies who received a comprehensive budget review and written action plan. The clients included in the study were not on “Debt Management Plans,” where agencies actively intervene with creditors to negotiate client payment plans that can include reduced minimum payments, reduced interest rates, and lower fees. While agencies and creditors closely track the progress of individuals on DMPs, no known information heretofore has existed on the impact of clients who receive budget/financial management counseling only. On average, one-third of NFCC agencies’ clients counseled are recommended for DMPs. The other two-thirds typically need a budget review and an understanding of options available, financial education, and possibly referral to other social service organizations to address other specific underlying problems affecting families’ financial well-being. NFCC’s 155 members are located in more than 1,300 communities nationwide and are mostly known as Consumer Credit Counseling Services, although some members are known by other names. In the year 2000, NFCC member agencies were contacted by more than 1.5 million American families under financial pressure.

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