Monday, March 31, 2008

My Darkest Money Secret

If I were able I’d turn this screen black as I tell you of my dark secret. It happened back when my husband and I first moved to Colorado. Blah, blah one bad financial decision led to another and another and another until finally we were deep in debt. So deep that we avoided answering our phone. We were using credit cards to buy basic food.

Then we got hungry and we’d had enough. We wanted a house. So we turned to a credit counseling service. Eight months later our debt was under control and we bought a home.

Remember—Nobody can erase bad credit. Don’t ever believe otherwise. A good service can get you back on track, but it’s up to you to commit to keep it going. Be careful there are many shysters out there. Ask question and choose carefully.

What are their credentials? Look for accreditation from organizations such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, Council on Accreditation and the International Organization for Standardization. Also ask about their counselor’s certification and ongoing training.

Are there any complaints? Check with the BBB and the State Attorney General’s office.

What services do they offer? Choose an agency that offers a variety of services—not just debt consolidation. If the counselor recommends a debt management plan without having conducted an interview, something’s wrong.

What’s expected? Be sure to read through the agreement and review the terms and conditions. Agreements should be written and include the counselor’s name, agency name, address, contact information, total costs (including payment details), timing, expected results, and any guarantees.

How much will this cost? Debt management programs are regulated by state law and typically run up to $40 per month. A reputable agency will let will explain all fees before you share any personal information.

There was a point when I never believed we could turn things around. Fortunately we chose wisely and today we’ve got a top credit score and food in the fridge.

1 comment:

  1. You may want to amend the entry for Colorado residents who will be able to work only with agencies registered with the Office of the Attorney General as of July 1.