What is Consumer Credit Counseling and How Can it Help You?

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Almost 60% of U.S. adults say they’re looking for financial adviceā€¦ but they don’t know where to turn.

Most people report going to friends, podcasts, or even social media for money advice, but fortunately, there’s a better option. 

Since the 1960s, consumer credit counseling has been a source for free and low-cost professional help with managing financial challenges. Today, the NFCC has a network of 250 nonprofit counseling agencies and more than 1,200 certified credit counselors. Here’s a look at how they can help you with your finances. 

What is a Consumer Credit Counselor?

A certified consumer credit counselor can review your finances and credit, suggest solutions and connect you to unique resources. 

Their counseling services are available in-person or over the phone, and appointments typically last 30-minutes to an hour. During your session, an NFCC-certified counselor can offer professional advice on the following topics: 

  • Credit
  • Budgeting
  • Collections
  • Debt management
  • Consumer rights
  • Bankruptcy

Four Ways a Consumer Credit Counselor Can Help You

Consumer credit counselors offer a variety of specialized assessments and they can cater to many types of financial needs. When you meet with you counselor, you might receive the following services:

1. Credit Report Reviews 

A certified credit counselor can review your credit reports to help you understand what’s inside. During a credit report review, you can discuss:

  • Strategies for improving your credit scores
  • How to dispute mistakes
  • Catching and recovering from credit fraud and identity theft
  • How to qualify for better loans and credit cards

2. Debt Counseling

A credit counselor can review your finances to help you make a personalized plan for dealing with collections, paying off loans or becoming debt-free. 

For some people, this could mean going on a debt management plan (DMP), which involves having a counselor set up a new payment agreement with your creditors and then distributing a single monthly debt payment on your behalf.

3. Housing Counseling

A HUD-approved housing counselor can help you explore your options for buying a home, how to get current on your mortgage payments or strategies for preventing foreclosure.

4. Bankruptcy Counseling

If you’re planning to file bankruptcy, you’ll have to conduct your required, 90-minute bankruptcy counseling with a credit counselor at a government-approved agency.

How Do I Find a Consumer Credit Counselor?

Not all consumer credit counselors are trustworthy. Unfortunately, some agencies offer for-profit credit counseling, with the goal of charging you for expensive, high-risk solutions or even scamming you out of money.

If you’re looking for a reputable agency, you can use our Agency Finder, or call 800-388-2227, to find a certified, nonprofit credit counselor within our network.