Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Avoiding Credit Counseling Bad Guys
What are your options when the gap between your income and your bill payments has become so big you've given up hope of them ever meeting again? It's estimated that nine million consumers in that situation contact credit counselors each year.
These consumers want to get a handle on their debt and, in some cases, consolidate and reduce credit card payments and lower interest charges through what is known as a debt-management plan (DMP).
While some credit-counseling agencies have proven to be honest and consumer-friendly, others have become known as "DMP-mills" for their singular focus on the revenue-generating debt-management plan. Not only did they dispense the education portion of the counseling process as a way to cut costs, some have been accused of charging hefty fees, pushing a debt-management plan even when inappropriate, and even failing to distribute payments to creditors.
There are many of these unethical agencies out there just hoping you'll call. The good news is that you can avoid them by talking to your local credit union first. In some cases, the people at a credit union can help steer you back on course, or if working with a credit-counseling agency is what's best in your situation, they can advise you on what to look for in a reputable credit-counseling agency.