While some consumers are thoroughly embarrassed when credit or bill payment problems surface they also become bewildered when deciding what to do about it. For example is bankruptcy better than credit counseling? or is a Debt Management Program better than credit counseling? or credit counseling a real solution?
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) seeks to dispel the myths surrounding credit counseling.
MYTH: Financial counseling costs too much.
TRUTH: NFCC member agency counseling is either free or low cost. One of the requirements for membership in the NFCC is that no service will be denied based on an inability to pay. Cost should never be a barrier to finding the financial help needed.
MYTH: It would be embarrassing to discuss my situation.
TRUTH: NFCC member agencies counsel more than 1.5 million people each year. It is highly likely that the trained and certified financial professional you visit with has encountered a financial problem similar to yours, and may do so every day.
MYTH: Credit counseling agencies only offer advice, not real solutions.
TRUTH: Although financial education is critical to financial success, when a person has debt beyond what he or she can responsibly manage, a Debt Management Program (DMP) may be appropriate. The DMP allows consumers to continue to service their debt, repaying it in full, but often with a more affordable monthly payment, a lower interest rate, and late fees and over-limit fees stopped or lowered.
MYTH: Seeking credit counseling might damage my credit report and score.
TRUTH: Credit counseling is not reported to the credit bureau, thus could not have a negative impact on a person’s credit report or score. However, if a person elects to repay their debt through a DMP, the creditor may make a notation on the credit report of participation in the program. Nonetheless, graduates of the DMP often emerge with improved credit scores due to having paid off the debt through consistent monthly payments.
MYTH: Debt settlement or bankruptcy seems like better solutions.
TRUTH: Both debt settlement and bankruptcy are serious financial decisions which can negatively impact a person’s credit report and score for years. Before opting for either, a person should first rule out all other alternatives.
To be automatically connected to the agency closest to you, dial (800) 388-2227, or find an agency online at www.NFCC.org.