According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s (NFCC) recent Financial Literacy Survey, many consumers have misperceptions about credit counseling agencies, causing confusion that is preventing them from reaching out for the help they need. “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. “However, there can be major differences among agencies. NFCC Member Agencies are required to be accredited by an independent third party, and all counselors must become certified. Additionally, members must adhere to the NFCC’s stringent Member Quality Standards, thus setting members apart from others in the sector.”
The survey revealed the following examples of the confusion associated with credit counseling:
►Respondents did not know which agency to turn to for assistance.
►Many thought credit counseling cost too much.
►Some believed credit counseling would hurt their credit report and credit score.
►Others felt that credit counseling agencies only offered advice, not real solutions.
►Some thought that debt settlement or bankruptcy were better or easier options.
“When experiencing financial difficulties, it is important to recognize the problem, and then promptly contact a professional credit counseling agency," said Cunningham. “There is no benefit to delaying action. As a matter of fact, delay usually makes matters worse.”