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Choosing the right credit counseling agency is essential if you're fighting to get out from under a mountain of debt.  Follow this advice for making the right selection:

  • Go to the professionals. Make sure the credit agency you choose is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Association of Indepen­dent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. Both of these groups establish professional and training standards that credit-counseling firms must meet when providing services to consumers.

 

  • Go with a local firm. Consider only agencies with offices in your area. That way you can pay them a visit before signing up. You want the people there to see you as a real person, not a voice on the phone and a number on their computer.

 

  • Check their fees. Many credit counseling agencies are nonprofits, but that doesn’t mean they don’t charge for their services. Know that it’s going to cost you up front.

 

  • Look for specifics. Make sure the firm has a variety of services, such as classes on budgeting and managing your money. If they seem intent on just signing you up for its debt management plan, go elsewhere. A good agency will want to help you solve the cause of your debt problem, not just the result of it.

 

  • Don’t expect quick fixes. Be leery of credit-counsel­ing firms that promise to erase your bad credit record quickly. After all, you didn’t get into trouble over­night; you’re certainly not going to get out of it that fast, either.
Posted 8:11 AM  View Comments

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