Questions to ask credit counseling agencies

Questions to ask credit counseling agencies:

Services and Fees:

  • What services do you offer?
  • Do you have educational materials? If so, will you send them to me? Are they free? Can I access them on the Internet?
  • In addition to helping me solve my immediate problem, will you help me develop a plan for avoiding problems in the future?
  • What are your fees? Do I have to pay anything before you can help me? Are there monthly fees? What is the basis for the fees?
  • What is the source of your funding?
  • Will I have a formal written agreement or contract with you?
  • How soon can you take my case?
  • Who regulates, oversees, or licenses your agency? Is your agency audited? Are you licensed to offer your services in my state?
  • Will I work with one counselor or several?
  • What are the qualifications of your counselors? Are they accredited or certified? If not, how are they trained?
  • What assurance do I have that information about me (including my address and phone number) will be kept confidential?
  • Will the fact I am working with you appear on my credit report?

Repayment plans:

  • If I enroll in a repayment plan, will it appear on my credit report?
  • How much debt must I have to use your services?
  • How do you determine the amount of my payment? What happens if this is more than I can afford?
  • How does your debt repayment plan work? How will I know my creditors have received payments? Is client money put into a separate account from operating funds?
  • How often can I get status reports on my accounts? Can I get access to my accounts online or by phone?
  • Can you get my creditors to lower or eliminate interest and finance charges or waive late fees?
  • Is a debt repayment plan my only option?  What if I cannot maintain the agreed-upon plan?
  • What debts will be excluded from the debt repayment plan?
  • Will you help me plan for payment of these debts?
  • Who will help me if I have problems with my accounts or creditors?
  • How secure is the information I provide to you?