Do you need financial counseling? Watch the video below on tips to select a legitimate credit counseling agency.
[Intro: "Financial Fast Facts with Gail Cunningham"]
Gail Cunningham, National Foundation for Credit Counseling: If you're in financial distress, you're not alone. Many Americans find themselves with credit card debt they cannot pay or a mortgage they cannot afford. I'm Gail Cunningham, here to give you some guidance on finding legitimate help for your finances.
The key word is 'legitimate'. The last thing someone needs when struggling financially is to fall into the hands of a disreputable credit counseling agency. When you select an agency, ask the following questions up front:
Is the agency affiliated with a national body such as the NFCC? This adds a level of financial and ethical protection.
Is the agency accredited by an independent third party such as the Council on Accreditation? The absence of any accreditation or self-accreditation is indeed a red flag.
Is the counselor you'll be dealing with certified? You want someone highly qualified assisting you with your critical financial decisions.
Is the agency non-profit? Simply being nonprofit doesn't guarantee legitimacy, but it is a step in the right direction.
What services does the agency offer? If all they want to talk about is a debt management plan, hang up and keep looking. Legitimate agencies have to have many resolution options in their tool bag. There's no cookie-cutter approach to credit counseling.
Does the agency offer any true financial education? Legitimate agencies will have workshops open to the public and most often free of charge.
What are the fees associated with the service? NFCC member agencies counsel people free of charge or for a very low fee. As a matter of fact, you cannot be refused service when visiting an NFCC agency solely because of an inability to pay. If you need help, you'll get it, and get it at no cost.
This gives you an idea of what to ask any agency you're considering doing business with, but there are more tips available on debtadvice.org. Check them out! I'm Gail Cunningham, and that's your Financial Fast Fact.
[National Foundation for Credit Counseling: Knowing the difference can make all the difference. For more information or answers to your financial questions, contact the NFCC at www.DebtAdvice.org or call: 1-800-388-2227.]
Our agency is a non-profit United Way service agency. We are a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and are accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA). We are also a HUD-approved comprehensive housing counseling agency.