Credit Counseling

Credit counseling educates consumers about how to repay their debts and better manage their personal finances. This one-on-one counseling is customized to the client’s unique situation. An NFCC-certified consumer credit counselor can help consumers by crafting a new budget and debt repayment plan, all of which is informed by the client’s own financial information. Some clients need the additional help of a formal Debt Management Plan, though the majority benefit from credit counseling alone.

Contents

Credit Counseling Explained

Whether they are conducted in person or by telephone, our counseling sessions are confidential and offered free of charge. You submit information about your income, living expenses, and debts, which your counselor will use to create a personalized action plan and budget to help you repay your debts.

What happens in credit counseling?

Gathering Your Information

  • You supply information about your personal finances.
  • We recommend gathering your most recent paystubs, credit card bills, household bills including utilities, and an estimate of how much you spend on food and transportation per month.
  • The more complete and up-to-date your information, the better our advice will be.

Begin Credit Counseling

  • Discuss your debt and personal finance situation with your counselor.
  • Your counselor reviews your budget with you and offers targeted advice to help you control your spending.
  • Your counselor analyzes your debts and educates you about effective repayment strategies.

Create a Plan

  • Your counselor will prepare a new budget for you based on your unique circumstances.
  • Your plan will guide you toward repaying your debts.
  • If your circumstances warrant it, your counselor may propose a Debt Management Plan (DMP).

Costs

Credit counseling is provided free of charge.

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Meet Our Team

Eligibility

There are no eligibility requirements for obtaining counseling assistance. You can obtain counseling at no cost to you.

FAQ

How is counseling available?
Traditionally, we offered counseling and education services face-to-face in our local offices. This in-person counseling is still available in all of our branch offices. However, we’ve found that many clients are more comfortable seeking counseling by phone, so we offer a national toll-free hotline (1-800-431-8157) to serve any client who needs help anywhere in the U.S.A.

We also offer online counseling. Starting your counseling online allows you to enter your personal financial information which speeds up the counseling process and helps us ensure that your information is accurate.

Will credit counseling stop legal action and creditor phone calls?
We can usually work with creditors to stop collection efforts and minimize legal actions, but the best way to stop creditor calls is to make full, on-time payments. Our debt management plan can help you do that.

What does a credit counselor do during my counseling session?
Our counseling sessions are entirely confidential; a counselor will go over your personal finances and offer expert advice that is tailored to your unique situation. We will help you create a spending plan to cover all of your payments to your creditors, as well as your regular living expenses.

If I need legal advice, can a credit counselor help?
No. We do not offer legal advice of any kind. We recommend seeing a qualified attorney for help with legal issues.

What do you charge for counseling services?
Counseling is provided free of charge. The majority of our other assistance is provided at no or low cost to clients.

Why will credit card companies and creditors reduce payments through you instead of working directly with me?
The creditors don’t have the time or manpower to negotiate with every one of their customers individually. They work with credit counseling agencies like us to create a set of standard concessions that we may offer to clients when appropriate. The creditors also understand that we provide counseling and education, which makes our clients more likely to succeed in repaying their debts.

Are credit counselors certified?
Our counselors are certified by the NFCC. If you need counseling regarding your mortgage, we also have HUD-certified housing counselors available. Certification means the counselor has been tested on his/her financial knowledge.

Is counseling confidential?
All of our counseling is completely confidential. Our records are kept securely to protect our clients’ privacy and we do not share information about our clients with anyone.

Advantages and Benefits

NFCC Certification

Our counselors are certified with the NFCC, which administers a series of tests to verify the counselor’s financial knowledge.

Accredited For Your Safety

As an NFCC member agency, we are accredited by the COA, or Council on Accreditation. This involves regular reviews of our operations to ensure we meet the highest standards for ethics and service delivery.

No Risk

Since credit counseling is free of charge, our clients have nothing to lose. Seeking credit counseling is in no way reflected on one’s credit report or score, so there are no downsides to getting a free credit counseling session.

Learn about managing your finances

Our counseling services are designed to educate consumers about sound money management. You’ll have the opportunity to ask a certified credit counselor any questions you may have about your debts, personal finances, or credit.

Get Options to Eliminating Your Debt

We’ve been helping people get out of debt for four decades. Our counselors draw on that experience to offer strategies and advice for eliminating debt.

Personalized Attention

Every client’s situation is reviewed by a counselor and the education and advice we give is tailored to that client individually. We don’t let computers create generic action plans for our clients.

Alternatives

Debt Management Plan

For some clients, prudent budgeting is not enough to make ends meet. A Debt Management Plan brings additional concessions that can lower monthly debt payments and make it possible to repay debts.

Debt Consolidation

It’s unlikely that anyone struggling with credit card debt will be given a consolidation loan, but a debt management plan does consolidate all of a client’s monthly credit debt payments into one convenient payment.

Debt Negotiation

It may be possible to get debt relief by negotiating with individual creditors, but this leaves you at the mercy of the individual collection agent you speak to, and doesn’t address your entire financial situation.

Debt Settlement

Settlements involve paying less than the amount you owe to make debts go away. If a creditor agrees to settle a debt with you, the resulting notation on your credit report will severely damage your credit rating.

Availability

Credit.org offers counseling by telephone in all 50 states. We also offer in-person counseling by appointment at our local office locations.

Credit Card Payoff Calculator

Use our calculator to determine how long it will take you to payoff your credit cards if you only make the minimum payments.

Launch Credit Card Payoff Calculator

Summary

Since credit counseling is free of charge and carries no negative consequences to one’s credit, it’s the best place to start when working toward financial freedom.

You can receive counseling by phone or in-person by appointment at our local office locations, so you can feel comfortable and in control while our counselor helps you create a plan to repay your debts and better manage your personal finances.

All of our counseling is confidential, non-judgmental, and tailored to address your specific situation. Your counselor will help you weigh all of your options and answer any questions you have.