The holidays are over, the gifts are unwrapped and the bills are rolling in. Millions of consumers who made purchases in December are now stressed about that spending and looking for ways to reduce their debt quickly. BBB advises consumers to conduct their research when choosing a solution for debt relief.
“Many consumers find credit counseling services a lifesaver,” says Ron Mycholuk, Public Relations Manager for BBB serving the Great White North. “And they’re right, but the wrong credit counseling advice can cost you more money, more time and more aggravation in the long run.”
The right counselor can advise you how to use credit wisely, establish a budget, keep track of your bills, manage your money and if appropriate, how to arrange a payment plan with your creditors. In short, a trained specialist can place you back on track to financial success.
Selecting a Credit Counselor
If you decide to work with a credit counseling agency, spend some time researching your options and ensure the company you choose is the right fit for your financial needs. Your goal should be to find a reputable agency, with satisfied clients offering personalized service.
Here are some signs that the company may not be what you are looking for.
· Charges upfront fees. In Alberta, a debt repayment agency may not charge any fees until they have negotiated a settlement that is acceptable to you.
· Demands you provide account numbers before discussing services. Reputable agencies are happy to provide fee information about their services to convince you to choose them for your business.
· Boasts it can “lower your rates by 30-50%” or “Get you out of debt easily.” These bold statement are rarely, if ever, true. Avoid counselors who make outlandish claims and who promise quick, easy solutions to complex financial problems.
· Claims it can remove negative information from your credit report. It is illegal to make such claims if the information is a true representation of your credit history. Accurate information cannot be removed from your report.
· Requires “voluntary” contributions.” Required “voluntary” contributions are not voluntary.
· Insists you take immediate action. Reputable companies permit you time to evaluate their offer, shop around and make the best choice for your situation. However, remember that delaying too long can cause further damage to your financial circumstances.
BBB advises consumers to check out prospective companies on edmonton.bbb.org or contact their financial institutions directly for advice. For more tips on credit counseling, visit our website or contact your BBB at (780) 482-2341.
Consumer tips and media releases can also be found on our Homepage, Blog and News Centre. Please feel free to subscribe to our RSS feed to receive BBB news at your computer. We also have a Facebook Fan Page and you can follow us on Twitter.