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Credit Counseling

 

What is Credit Counseling?

 

Credit counseling helps you learn to budget and manage your money while you pay back your debts.



What programs and services are available for Credit Counseling?

Be careful:  There are also “debt negotiation” programs.  They may tell you they can pay off your credit card for less than you owe, from 10% to 50% of the balance owed.  These programs can be very risky. 



What does Credit Counseling cost?

 

There is usually a setup fee for a debt management or a debt consolidation plan.  The cost should be between $50 to $75.  Credit counseling agencies also charge a monthly fee.  This should be no more than $25 to $40.  Good credit counseling agencies usually offer free educational materials and workshops. 



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How do I qualify for Credit Counseling services?

 

If you have trouble keeping a budget or paying down your debt, you may want to think about getting help from a non-profit credit counseling agency.  


In a situation of first time bankruptcy, you will be required by federal law to receive credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency.  You must receive an “individual or group briefing” from a non-profit credit counseling agency within 180 days before filing for bankruptcy.  



Where do I apply for Credit Counseling Services?

 

Most credit counselors offer services through local offices, the Internet, or on the telephone.  If possible, find an agency that offers in-person counseling. Non-profit agencies that offer credit counseling include:

Your financial institution, local consumer protection agency, friends, and family may also be good sources of information and referrals.



Where can I find out more?

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