If you are having a tough time keeping up with your credit card payments, credit counseling is one of the solutions you might be considering. However, you are not able to trust the method as you believe in various myths floating regarding the credit counseling. Let us discuss the myths that surround credit counseling and what is the actual truth behind these myths –
Finding legitimate help can be difficult
There is no doubt you need to be extra cautious when it comes to financial matters, but to let confusion and doubts be a barrier to getting help cannot be termed as a smart move. In order to find the right help, you should look for an agency associated with a membership organization such as BBB (Better Business Bureau), NFCC (National Foundation for Credit Counseling) and attorney general office, looking for unresolved complaints against any agency you might be thinking of considering.
Credit counseling is an expensive affair
If you are taking counseling services from an NFCC member agency, then the best part is that the services are either free or have nominal charges. One of the quality standards of NFCC member is that they are not authorized to deny the services on the basis of inability to pay. Therefore, if you are indeed facing hardship, the fee may be waived off.
Credit counseling will affect the credit score and credit report
The best thing about NFCC member agencies is that they don’t report to the three credit bureaus. Many credit scores of the clients have improved post credit counseling or by using a DMP (Debt Management Plan), as you make constant payments that help the debt to decrease.
Opting for a debt management plan, you don’t have to pay the bills
In reality, the key purpose of a debt management plan is to assist you in handling your debt efficiently and help you to pay off your debt easily by arranging a low-interest or a lower monthly payment. The main aim of DMP is to learn how to manage money responsibly. In other words, it can be said that you still have to make the payment for what you actually owe.
A credit counselor will mend your credit score and wipe all the negative marks from your credit report
A credit counselor doesn’t hold the authority of cleaning up your credit report. In the event where the negative marks are correct and legit, they will continue to show up on your credit report for up to seven years. And bankruptcy will continue to show up on your report for ten years.
Credit Counseling cannot stop legal action
This is surely a myth. In most of the cases, NFCC member agencies work together with the agencies to stop any legal action and also finding a solution that ends up satisfying each party.
You will only get financial advice
Since there is counseling word mentioned in the title, most of the people assume the literal meaning of it and think they will only receive the advice. Different credit counseling agencies will offer different services as per judging your situation. Most of these agencies will offer written plans along with different steps so that they are able to carve out a concrete plan of reaching out to the creditors and negotiating the fees. These agencies also provide financial education along with offering solutions.
Debt Management Programs and Debt Counseling is same
Most of the people think that DMP (Debt Management Program) and Debt Counseling is same but in actuality, there is a difference between them. Credit Counseling usually involves helping you to create a budget and sticking to that budget. Most of the debt counseling agencies organize seminars on money management along with having racks of free brochures on debt and money management.
In comparison, a DMP (Debt Management Program) is where the agency will play the role of a policeman who will take money from you in the form of monthly payments and further will distribute to your creditors until your accounts come down to zero.
Most of the credit counseling agencies will also make their best efforts to have a word with your lenders. This negotiation is done to have lower interest rates or waiving off the late fees so that you can have more monthly payment.
Credit counseling agencies can negotiate lower DMP
This is another common myth. There are chances that the credit counseling agencies could negotiate lower payments only if there was negotiation involved, but there isn’t. If you come across a counselor saying he/she can negotiate lower DMP payments, then in reality you are talking to a debt settlement company. This is where you need to transfer a fixed amount into an escrow-type account on a monthly basis.
Once you have a significant amount of money in your account for settling one of your debts, the settlement firm will get in touch with you asking you to release enough money to cover it. This goes on until the repayment has been made to all your unsecured debts.
A formal program is required to get out of debt
You will find various lenders who will get you registered in a reduced-interest program if you meet them in person. The negative thing about this is all those phone calls you have to make and that you will have to project yourself like you are stuck in some financial emergency.
But, no matter what happens you don’t need a formal program for this. You can easily handle this on your own. The same is also true if you aim to consolidate your debts via debt consolidation loan. If you have equity in your home, then you can either have a home equity loan or a homeowner equity line of credit yourself without taking the assistance of any third party.
Never opt for bankruptcy
Honest and genuine credit counselors will always advise filing for bankruptcy if you are in a financial emergency. While bankruptcy will have a negative effect on both your credit report and credit score, it is certainly one of the effective ways of reducing the burden of unsecured debts in all those extreme situations. Let us assume you have yearly earnings of $20, 000 and you also have an accruing debt of $50, 000. This is the exact case where bankruptcy can really come handy.