Filers In All Other States And Territories
Certificate of completion for both credit counseling and debtor education are required but before the filers debts can be discharged. Only credit counseling organizations and debtor education course providers that have been approved by the U.S. Trustee Program may issue these certificates for filers in all states and territories except for Alabama and North Carolina. Find an approved or debtor education provider.
What Happens After A Debt Collector Contacts You
Within five days after a debt collector first contacts you, the collector must send you a written notice that tells you the name of the creditor, how much you owe, and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money. If you owe the money or part of it, contact the creditor to arrange for payment. If you believe you do not owe the money, contact the creditor in writing and send a copy to the collection agency informing them with a letter not to contact you.
Best Mobile App: Incharge Debt Solutions
InCharge Debt Solutions
InCharge Debt Solutions has been offering professional credit counseling, debt management services, bankruptcy education, housing counseling, and education in financial literacy since 1997. We chose it as the best mobile app because it offers an easy way for users to check and make changes to their debt management plan using their mobile phones.
InCharge offers many typical credit counseling services, including credit counseling, debt management, and consolidation programs, housing and student loan counseling, and pre-file credit counseling and pre-discharge education for bankruptcy. The agency also offers a number of educational resources, including financial calculators, e-books, and financial literacy workshops, and webinars through local and national partners.
Finally, InCharge offers a mobile app that lets clients access their debt management account on any iOS or Android phone. Users can view creditor proposal status, update account balances, add creditors to the program, and change their payment date on the go.
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Improving Financial Health One Person At A Time
Since 1951, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® has helped millions of people lead a more financially fit life. As the largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization in the U.S., our mission is to help all Americans gain control over their finances.
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What Does Credit Counseling Cost
Almost all credit counseling services will perform an initial credit counseling session at no charge. This typically involves a review of a clients debt and finances as well as basic recommendations for budgeting and money management.
The most typical service offered by credit counseling agencies is the DMP. This typically costs between $40 and $75 upfront plus a $40 to $75 monthly fee, depending on the amount owed and one’s state of residence.
Typical pricing for other services includes a one-time fee of $200 for reverse mortgage counseling, $150 for pre-purchase counseling, and $90 for student loan counseling. Some agencies also offer paid and free educational classes.
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The 7 Best Credit Counseling Services Of 202: Lessons To Boost Your Finances
GreenPath Financial Wellness was founded in 1961 and has been helping people manage debt, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and credit challenges. We chose it as the best overall because of its long history and network of brick-and-mortar offices across the country.
GreenPath offers most standard counseling services including credit and student loan counseling, debt management, and bankruptcy support. The organization also assists clients with foreclosure prevention and support, homebuyer assistance, reverse mortgage counseling, and resources for renters.
GreenPath also provides its customers with free educational resources and tools, including articles, online classes, webinars, calculators, worksheets, and guides. Those looking for more personalized support can visit one of the agencys numerous branch offices in over 20 states to speak with a counselor in person.
Why Come To Accc For Free Debt Advice
Since 1991, weve provided free debt advice and credit counseling services for thousands of individuals and families just like you. They chose to seek free debt advice from ACCC for a number of reasons:
- Experience. Our credit counselors are certified and professionally trained, and have helped thousands of people find their way out of debt through free debt advice and affordable debt management plans.
- Free financial education and materials. Our website offers a wealth of informative materials and helpful calculators, like a that you can use to learn more about money management and paying off your debt.
- Affordable fees. In addition to free debt advice, we offer affordable debt management services that can help you pay off your debt more quickly usually within five years or less. Because were a nonprofit, were able to keep our fees for services among the lowest in the industry.
- Confidentiality. We hold your personal financial information in the strictest of confidence.
- Convenience. From free debt advice to help manage payments to creditors, our credit counselors handle everything for you.
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Consumer Fees For Housing Counseling
Foreclosure prevention counseling and homeless counseling services are available free of charge through HUD’s Housing Counseling Program. Housing Counseling agencies participating in HUD’s Housing Counseling Program are not permitted to charge consumers for these specific housing counseling services. Counseling recipients should not pay for these services. However, housing counseling agencies are permitted to charge reasonable and customary fees for other forms of housing counseling and education services, including pre-purchase, reverse mortgage, rental, and non-delinquency post-purchase counseling services, provided certain conditions are met:
- Agencies must provide counseling without charge to persons who demonstrate they cannot afford the fees
- Agencies must inform clients of the fee structure in advance of providing services
- Fees must be commensurate with the level of services provided.
If you encounter housing counseling agencies that you believe are not complying with these requirements, you should contact HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling.
Approved Debt Management Counselor Certification Providers
The Michigan Debt Management Act, 1975 PA 148, as amended, requires an employee or agent of a licensee who engages in financial counseling and debt counseling functions to become a certified counselor. A certified counselor is defined as an individual who is certified by a training program or certifying organization, approved by the director, that authenticates the competence of individuals who provide education and assistance to other individuals in connection with debt counseling and financial counseling functions.The following certification programs or organizations have been approved by the Office of Consumer Finance:
- Partnership for Financial Education âwww.financialed.org
- National Association of Certified Credit Counselors âfcnonline.org
- Association of Financial Counseling & Planning Ed âwww.afcpe.org
- Institute for Financial Literacy, Inc. âwww.Fincert.org
- National Foundation for Credit Counseling âwww.nfcc.org
- Arbor Investment Ltd. âwww.arbored.com
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The Cost Of Debt Counseling
Initial debt counseling sessions are typically free, but you could pay an enrollment fee and a monthly fee depending on the depth of services provided. Many nonprofit counseling agencies offer free debt advice and educational materials on their website however, other services, including setting up debt management and repayment plans, come at a cost.
Any reputable debt counseling agency should provide you with pricing information when asked. Always ask for a free consultation this way, you can see if a particular debt counselor is the right fit for your needs.
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Debt Relief & Credit Counseling
Debt Relief and Credit Counseling
Once youâve obtained credit, itâs easy to be overwhelmed. You may overspend, become ill or lose your job, making it difficult to keep up with your bills. If you are struggling with debt, there are steps you can take to avoid bankruptcy.
Consult with a legitimate credit counselor who will help you develop a personalized money-management plan.
The U.S. Department of Justices U.S. Trustee Program provides a list of government-approved credit counseling agencies on its website.
The National Foundation for Consumer Counseling provides a list of member agencies online at www.nfcc.org or call 1-800-388-2227 for a 24-hour automated message with office listings.
Think carefully before sending money to a credit counseling or repair program that doesnt have an office in your community. Shop around. Compare a couple of services and get a feel for how they operate. The credit counselor should spend at least 20 to 30 minutes with you in order to get a complete picture of your finances. Also, be aware that just because an organization says it is nonprofit doesnt guarantee that its services are free or affordable.
Bankruptcy should be your last resort for financial recovery. Federal law requires that you must receive credit counseling from a government-approved organization within six months before you file for any bankruptcy relief.
Cautions about Credit Repair Offers
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Restoring Hope In Your Financial Future
For over 60 years, NFCC and its member agencies have helped people just like you pay off debt and grow in their financial capability. Our services help people overcome financial challenges at nearly every stage of life, from leaving the nest to retirement. We help people with a plan to pay off debt, preserve or achieve homeownership, understand bankruptcy options and offer financial tools and educational resources so that each person can gain confidence and success in managing their money!
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Other Debt Relief Options
Working with a credit counseling organization is just one option for dealing with your debt. You also could: negotiate directly with your credit card company, work with a debt settlement company, or consider bankruptcy.
Talk with your credit card company, even if you have been turned down before. Rather than pay a company to talk to your creditor on your behalf, remember that you can do it yourself for free. You can find the telephone number on your card or your statement. Be persistent and polite. Keep good records of your debts, so that when you reach the credit card company, you can explain your situation. Your goal is to work out a modified payment plan that reduces your payments to a level you can manage.
If you don’t pay on your debt for 180 days, your creditor will write your debt off as a loss your credit score will take a big hit, and you still will owe the debt. Creditors often are willing to negotiate with you even after they write your debt off as a loss.
You can find a state-by-state list of government-approved organizations at the U.S. Trustee Program, the organization within the U.S. Department of Justice that supervises bankruptcy cases and trustees. Also, before you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, you must satisfy a “means test.” This test requires you to confirm that your income does not exceed a certain amount. The amount varies by state and is publicized by the U.S. Trustee Program.
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What To Bring To Your Debt Counseling Consultation
Your debt counselor will want a comprehensive look at your finances to determine the best solutions for your unique situation. To paint a full picture, you should bring:
- A list of your current expenses. Include fixed expenses, such as car payments and housing, as well as variable expenses like food, utility bills and phone bills. If you have a budget, bring a copy of that, too.
- Pay stubs going back a few months. Your counselor will want to know your household income.
- to provide information about minimum payments and due dates.
It will also help to have a general idea of your credit score. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are required by law , specifically) to provide you with a free credit report once per year through AnnualCreditReport.com plus, these bureaus began providing free weekly reports during the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, many financial platforms, including LendingTree, will provide you with your credit score for free.
How Debt Counseling Services Work
The goal of debt counseling is to teach consumers money management skills, so that they can make educated financial decisions going forward. Debt counseling agencies are usually nonprofit organizations, and their advisors are certified and trained in:
- Consumer credit
- Budgeting and money management
- Debt management, including all types of debt
If appropriate, a counselor may suggest debt consolidation or a debt management plan. Youll have to meet with a financial professional in person, online or by phone to determine the best course of action for your needs.
What is a debt management plan?
You dont need to have bad or fair credit to qualify for counseling, and you dont need to wait until youre struggling with debt to receive debt counseling services. Even if youre doing well with money, you can utilize these services to find out where you could improve your finances.
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Best National Coverage: Greenpath Financial Wellness
GreenPath Financial Wellness
We chose GreenPath Financial Wellness as best for national coverage due to the fact they offer more physical locations than most reputable credit counseling agencies we profiled. While you can get online assistance from GreenPath in all 50 states, they boast 28 different branches around the country in multiple states.
28 branches nationwide
Get help over the phone in all 50 states
Offers debt counseling, debt management, bankruptcy support, student loan counseling, housing counseling, debt management plans and more
Online client portal available
Not available 24/7
GreenPath Financial Wellness was founded in 1961, so this credit counseling agency has a longer history than some others that made our ranking. This company is also a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling , and they have excellent user reviews online. Ultimately, we chose them for our ranking based on their broad national coverage, including the 28 branches they offer around the country.
GreenPath Financial Wellness offers free credit counseling services as well as bankruptcy support, student loan counseling, housing counseling, debt management plans and more. They also offer housing counseling and support, including foreclosure prevention and reverse mortgage counseling. If you’re unsure about getting started, they also offer a three-minute financial assessment that can help you find out the kind of help you need before calling.
How A Dmp Works
In a DMP, you deposit money each month with the credit counseling organization. It uses your deposits to pay your unsecured debts, like your credit card bills, student loans, and medical bills, according to a payment schedule the counselor develops with you and your creditors. Your creditors may agree to lower your interest rates or waive certain fees. But its a good idea to check with all your creditors to be sure they offer the concessions that a credit counseling organization describes to you. A successful DMP requires you to make regular, timely payments it could take 48 months or more to complete your DMP. Ask the credit counselor to estimate how long it will take for you to complete the plan. You may have to agree not to apply for or use any additional credit while youre participating in the plan.
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Check Out Your Credit Counseling Agency
A Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agency may rely on the licensing exemption under Financial Code section 12104 if the organization is in compliance with the requirements of that section, and the organization files the documents required under that section.
Among other requirements, the exemption limits monthly fees that may be charged a debtor for a debt management plan to the lesser of 8% of the amount paid to creditors monthly, or $35. The fees for a debt settlement plan are limited to 15% of the amount of debt forgiven. An education and counseling fee of $50 may also be charged for either type of plan.
The Department of Financial Protection and Innovation does not grant the exemption, and makes no representations regarding whether the organizations filing with the Department are in compliance with all of the requirements of the exemption. If you have any questions about the exemption, you have a complaint against an organization, or you believe an organization is not in compliance with the requirements of the exemption, you may contact the Department at 1 275-2677.
Below is a list of Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agencies that have filed those documents required by Financial Code section 12104 in order to rely on the licensing exemption. If an organization is not on the list, it may not administer a debt management plan or a debt settlement plan for residents of California unless it is licensed as a general prorater under the Check Sellers, Bill Payers and Proraters Law.
Youre Our First Priorityevery Time
We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. And while our site doesnt feature every company or financial product available on the market, were proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward and free.
So how do we make money? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about , but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services.Here is a list of our partners.
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Choosing A Credit Counseling Organization
Reputable credit counseling organizations can advise you on managing your money and debts, help you develop a budget, and offer free educational materials and workshops. Their counselors are certified and trained in consumer credit, money and debt management, and budgeting. They discuss your entire financial situation with you, and help you develop a personalized plan to deal with your money problems. An initial counseling session typically lasts an hour, with an offer of follow-up sessions.A reputable credit counseling agency should send you free information about itself and the services it provides without requiring you to provide any details about your situation. If a firm doesn’t do that, consider it a red flag and go elsewhere for help.Once you’ve got a list of counseling agencies you might do business with, check each one out with your state Attorney General and local consumer protection agency. They can tell you if consumers have filed complaints about any one of them. The United States Trustee Program also keeps a list of credit counseling agencies approved to provide pre-bankruptcy counseling. After you’ve done your background investigation, you will want to interview the final “candidates.”