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Frequently Asked Questions

How is counseling available?

Because our network of agencies care about you and your needs, they offer help in a number of ways:

      • In-person
      • Via our national toll-free hotline (800.388.2227)
      • Online

What happens when I contact an agency?

When you contact an agency you will be advised of any information you need for your financial review session. You will be able to gather your financial documents and other relevant information together, and receive professional help in-person, by phone, or online.

How are agencies funded?

Agencies are funded through a variety of sources including voluntary contributions from creditors who participate in our Debt Management Plans (DMP), local grants from private sources and foundations, and client fees and contributions.

How do I become a credit counselor?

To become a Certified Consumer Credit Counselor requires an understanding of the theories, principles, issues, counseling techniques, and forms that are applicable to credit and financial counseling. The required subjects (Books 1-6) are: (1) Basic Counseling Principles, (2) Budgeting, (3) Credit, (4) Collections & Debt Management, (5) Consumer Rights & Responsibilities, and (6) Bankruptcy. Each book includes objectives, key concepts, and review questions. Each section of the counselor certification examination consists of a variety of multiple-choice questions.

Once certification is obtained, counselors are expected to maintain and aspire to the highest possible level of professional development. Counselors are initially certified for two years and must submit annual documentation of continuing development. A certified counselor must accumulate a minimum of 20 Professional Development Units (PDUs) each two years to maintain certification. Professional development and continuing education areas that fulfill the PDUs requirement include such activities as direct counseling, association memberships, attendance at workshops and conferences, teaching, as well as publishing and research activities.

Only NFCC member agency employees can receive certification through NFCC’s Counselor Certification Program.

What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?

It’s a federal law that protects consumers from harassment or threats made by creditors and prohibits creditors from making false statements. This law also prohibits a debt collector from disclosing what you owe to anyone but your attorney. 

What is a "charge off?" If my debt has been "charged off," can a creditor pursue collection?

When an account is considered uncollectable, a creditor will write it off as a bad debt or “charge off.” Depending on each creditor’s policy, a “charge off” will occur between 90 to 180 days after you become delinquent.  

However, a creditor can still pursue collection of the debt after a “charge off” and it will also be reported to the credit bureaus. 

What is a judgment?

A judgment is a decision issued by the court at the end of a lawsuit. If you are sued and either don’t file papers or file papers but eventually lose the case, the person who sued you will get a judgment. 

Most creditors need a court judgment to attach your wages or put a lien on your property. 

My wages have been attached. What does that mean?

When your wages are attached or garnished, a sum of money is deducted from your paycheck and sent to the creditor. Wage attachments are a common method used to collect a court judgment or back owed child support.