Consumer Credit Counseling Companies

One of the most important things you must understand when you find yourself in the “debt trap.”  That is, what type of company are you dealing with?  There are two major types of companies in our industry.  One is called Debt Consolidation and the other is called Debt Reduction.  One works for you and one works against you. We will focus today on the one that works against you in order for you to better understand what options best fit your needs.

Debt ReliefThe one that works against you are the Debt Consolidation companies which mainly go under the title of CCC or Consumer Credit Counseling companies.

1.         Consumer Credit Counseling (CCC) companies work for the credit card industry, not for you.  A former Assistant Attorney General for the state of Texas had this to say about Consumer Credit Counseling Services:

“I think that consumer credit counseling service is intrinsically deceptive.  They are funded or incorporated by the very people they are truly representing… not the consumer/debtor but the creditors trying to collect the money.  I think they are a con; they pitch themselves as serving the consumer’s best interest but they don’t.  Their promotions practices are deceptive and the consumers are being grossly misled.  If they were lawyers, they’d get disbarred!  Representing one-party and acting for the other?

2.         Consumer Credit Counseling companies are paid by the credit card industry to “help” you pay your creditors.  Your creditor counselor is being paid by the credit card companies.  Interestingly enough, this is not a well kept secret. Information from the National Foundation for Credit Counselors reveals that up to 15 percent of each payment collected is paid to the Consumer Credit Counseling Services office.  Although they describe this payment as a contribution from the creditor, in reality, it is really a commission.  The National Foundation for Credit Counselors materials state: “The majority of our funding comes from voluntary contributions from creditors who participate in our Debt Management Plans.”  Can you expect to get impartial advice about filing bankruptcy from a collection agency?

3.         Consumer Credit Counseling’s nonprofit status does not mean they are not making money at your expense.  Consumer Credit Counseling services makes it a point of describing themselves as nonprofit organizations.  Most consumers probably do not realize that nonprofit businesses operate to make a profit.  Rather than distributing earnings to stockholders as dividends, the profits are paid out to the employees and officers as salary or bonuses.  They make money, and a lot of it!  For example, Consumer Credit Counseling services in the Greater Dallas area reportedly collected $103 million dollars in one year alone.  Most hospitals are nonprofit organizations also.  A company’s nonprofit status has nothing to do with whether or not they are motivated to make money.  As reported in the Washington Post, of the Office of the Corporation Counsel said: “Consumers should not let down their guard just because a credit-counseling agency calls itself nonprofit.  It is easy to set up a nonprofit counseling agency and use the counselors to sell the services of a related for-profit company.”

4.         Consumer Credit Counseling often cannot reduce interest charges on credit accounts.  Many people are convinced that the organization also has the ability to have finance charges reduced or waived.  Information from a Consumer Credit Counseling Service web site makes it clear that they cannot always do this.  In fact, the majority of creditors will not waive finance charges.

5.         Consumer Credit Counseling companies will absolutely ruin your credit report!  The credit industry wants you to know that filing a bankruptcy can adversely affect your credit.  The fact is, participating in their program can be just as bad, or even worse, than filing for bankruptcy. An important overlooked fact is that you would not file a bankruptcy or participate in a Consumer Credit Counseling Services program unless you already had serious credit problems. Anyone who participates in a repayment plan through CCCS will have that fact reported on their credit.  You can expect all of your credit accounts to be closed, and you can expect to have a very difficult time opening any new accounts.  The result is pretty much the same as a bankruptcy, except a bankruptcy doesn’t cost as much or last as long.  Joining one of the CCCS repayment programs often results in lower credit scores than if you filed a bankruptcy.

6.         Your credit rating is most likely BETTER 2 years after filing bankruptcy than 3 years after entering a payment plan with Consumer Credit Counseling Services.  The reason is simple.  Immediately after a bankruptcy filing, which typically only takes a few months, you can start rebuilding your credit.  When you are in a repayment plan with Consumer Credit Counseling Services you will not be able to do much of anything to reestablish your credit until the typical four to five year payment plan is completed.  Even worse, the derogatory information that Consumer Credit Counseling Services causes to your credit report will haunt you for approximately seven years after you complete the Consumer Credit Counseling Services program.  Consumer Credit Counseling Services likes to call filing bankruptcy the “10 year mistake.”  Maybe Consumer Credit Counseling Services should call their own program the “twelve year mistake.”

7.         Again, Consumer Credit Counseling’s stated goal is to help the creditors, not you.  The National Foundation for Credit Counselors, the organization that most Consumer Credit Counseling Services belong to makes their mission clear.  Their literature states: “NFCC is committed to developing, promoting and maintaining successful relationships with creditors.  At NFCC we work with creditors - one by one - to develop policies to make your customer plans successful.  Our nonprofit network of more than 1,300 locations returns close to $5 billion to creditors every year.  NFCC member agencies help your customers avoid bankruptcy.”  The bottom line is simple.  The more you pay … the more Consumer Credit Counseling Services makes.  Whose side do you think they are on?

If you would like to learn more about the deceptive practices of a Consume Credit Counseling company versus that of a Debt Reduction program, please call one of our professional debt relief advisors today at 800.890.6658.  Know the facts before making important decisions about your debt situation.