Be wary of credit counseling organizations that:
- charge high up-front or monthly fees for enrolling in credit counseling or a DMP.
- pressure you to make “voluntary contributions,” another name for fees.
- won’t send you free information about the services they provide without requiring you to provide personal financial information, such as credit card account numbers, and balances.
- try to enroll you in a DMP without spending time reviewing your financial situation.
- offer to enroll you in a DMP without teaching you budgeting and money management skills.
- demand that you make payments into a DMP before your creditors have accepted you into the program.
You may be able to lower your cost of credit by consolidating your debt through a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit. Remember that these loans require you to put up your home as collateral. If you can’t make the payments — or if your payments are late — you could lose your home.
What’s more, the costs of consolidation loans can add up. In addition to interest on the loans, you may have to pay “points,” with one point equal to one percent of the amount you borrow. Still, these loans may provide certain tax advantages that are not available with other kinds of credit.