When it comes to financial counseling, a number of consumer misconceptions prevent them from seeking the proper help, according to a recent survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
The survey revealed several areas of confusion associated with credit counseling, such as where to turn for such assistance, the cost of counseling and the idea that credit counseling would end up hurting individuals’ credit scores.
NFCC attempts to clear the air of any confusion consumers might have by listing several facts regarding credit counseling services.
While it is understandable to be cautious when dealing with financial matters, NFCC urges consumers to look for agencies associated with membership organizations as well as checking with the Better Business Bureau and state Attorney General’s office to see if there are any unresolved complaints against any agency they are considering.
Another anxiety NFCC noticed among its respondents was a concern about the cost of counseling, many of which believing it costs “too much.”
Others believed counseling would hurt their credit score, for fear that counseling agencies report their individual scores to credit bureaus after the session is complete.
The idea that counseling agencies only offered advice and not real solutions was another concern survey respondents admitted.
To dispel this misconception, NFCC reassures that the goal of the counselor is to provide both short-term and long-term solutions for consumers.
Written “action plans” and “debt management plans” are tools that can be used to help financially struggling persons meet debt obligations and lay the groundwork for a financially stable tomorrow.
“When struggling with debt and other personal finance issues, consumers do themselves and their families a disservice by not seeking advice from a trusted professional nonprofit credit counseling agency,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.
There can be major differences among agencies, says Cunningham, who assures that NFCC member agencies are required to be accredited by an independent third party and all counselors must become certified in order to provide counseling services.
Written by Jason Oliva