If your credit has taken a hit in this dragging economy, do you know where to go for help?
Probably not, says a survey last month by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
Nearly half of respondents had no idea where to turn, and 25% thought they couldn’t afford counseling anyway—proof that many people are misinformed when it comes to what reliable credit counseling is.
“Many consumers have been duped by unscrupulous businesses which charge them high fees, yet delivered little if any real help,” says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.
Here’s the real deal:
- Credit counseling services that are members of the NFCC are accredited by a third party organization; counselors are trained to give you a detailed, one-on-one money management plan, as well as resources and referrals.
- Accredited counseling is free or very low-cost. Rules require NFCC member organizations to offer counseling free, or work out a plan, if you’re broke.
To find an agency close to you, call (800) 388-2227, or go to www.DebtAdvice.org. For help in Spanish, call (800) 682-9832.
Out of the Box
To build good credit, you have to know your history, so vet your reports once a year (at least) at Annualcreditreport.com. Here you’re entitled to one FREE report each year (credit score not included).