Almost 60% of U.S. adults say they’re looking for financial advice… 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:
- Debt management
- Consumer rights
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.