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Whether or not there is a global financial crisis, you will need to consult a credit counselor at one time or another. Credit counselors can give important advice that will help you in your major financial decisions. It's too bad, though, that according to a report made by a senate investigating committee in the United States in 2005, some credit counseling groups have established their organizations for profit. Such organizations obviously have their own interests above that of their clients and may become abusive in their counsel.
With the existence of a lot of credit counseling organizations, how do you choose which one is right for you? How do you choose which one can really help you and give you trustworthy advise? There are factors you need to look at when choosing a credit counselor. There are also warning signs that you need to stay away from. The following are some questions you can ask a credit counselor to gauge the reliability of the agency he or she represents.
Is he or she a certified consumer credit counselor?
Your credit counselor should be a qualified professional. You should find out how much training he or she has had with regard to credit counseling. Since you will be putting a lot of trust about your financial decisions on his or her shoulders, you need to know how qualified the counselor is. If the counselor holds an NFCC qualification, then it means that he or she was able to pass a series of difficult tests to assess their knowledge on financial matters.
Does the credit counseling agency hold an accreditation given by an independent third party?
The reliability of the organization is established or strengthened by the accreditation of a third party that is not related to it. An example of such accreditation is the one given by the Council on Accreditation. This is usually a dependable sign that the organization has been checked and has passed certain standards. It also helps if the organization is a member of a national organization or agency like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling because this means it regularly goes through strict standard tests.
What are the services offered by the credit counseling agency?
It is best to choose an agency that offers a wide range of services, such as those covering financial counseling both for those who are in debt and those who are not in debt; counseling for housing financial concerns like rental, buying for the first time, pre-purchase, mortgage, and foreclosure questions; counseling for education; and counseling for bankruptcy pre-filing.
How much do they charge for services rendered?
The agency's fees should be disclosed upfront. Be careful of those who will tell you that their fees are 'voluntary.' Generally, monthly fees are acceptable, and these should ideally fall within the range of $25 to $50. Choose an agency that accepts waiving of fees when you are facing dire financial challenge.
What are the ways of obtaining counsel?
Will you need to visit them in person when you require counseling? Or can you talk to the credit counselor through phone? Is the service also available online? Know which setup will be most convenient for you and whether or not this is offered by the agency.
Remember to do background checks on the credit counseling agency before committing yourself to it. Know its qualifications and the qualifications of the credit counselor who will be assigned to you. Clarify all arrangements regarding fees before signing up. Finally, find out how you will be able to get in touch with the credit counselor once you sign up and if this arrangement will be suitable for your lifestyle.
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Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/finance-articles/5-questions-to-ask-before-getting-a-credit-counselor-1047399.html