Are you facing any personal, family or household debts and seeking to ease the burdens? Well, there are hundreds of non-profit debt counseling agencies that offer their services to debtors free of charge. They will assess the credit situation, help prepare a feasible budget plan, consolidate multiple debts and may negotiate with creditors for lower interest rates or better repayment terms. And if you are filing for bankruptcy, you will still need either paid or free debt counseling from a government-approved agency.
Followings are some of the services the free debt counseling organizations offer
1. Assess options: Free debt counseling agency will assess your overall debt situation – whether you qualify for a debt management program or not and how they can help you. The debt counselor will provide you a budget plan mentioning in detail how you can manage your present debts.
2. Debtor education: Free debt counseling agency will provide you all information on debt management. It will advise you how you should proceed if you are filing for bankruptcy and how you can manage post-bankruptcy situation as well. They will help you develop a pre and post-bankruptcy money management plan.
3. Credit worthiness: Non-profit debt counseling agency will explain how to legitimately improve your credit worthiness. By improving your credit rating, they can bargain with the lenders for lower interest rates in your existing loans or in a new debt financing for clearing the current debts.
4. Debt consolidation: The debt counselor will help you consolidate your loans; thereby you will make a single monthly payment instead of multiple payments you pay to your lenders at present. The non-profit debt counseling agency will negotiate with the creditors for that or it may help you take a fresh loan to get rid of the current loans.
5. Consumer rights: Free debt counseling agency will tell you about federal or state laws that protect your right to avail, use and maintain debts. That can protect you from any steps, legal or illegal, your creditors have taken against you.
6. Federal benefits: Free credit counseling agency may also explain about the government support and any benefit that you can procure in case you default and file for bankruptcy. The federal government supports with certain benefits in case of defaults in certain debts, for example student loans.
How can I know which are approved non-profit debt counseling agency?
Free debt counseling agency must be approved by the Department of Justice’s US Trustee Program. All approved paid and non-profit debt counseling agencies appear on the US Trustee Program’s lists. You can see the list at https://www.justice.gov/ust/list-credit-counseling-agencies-approved-pursuant-11-usc-111. The list is also available at the bankruptcy clerk’s office for the district where you will file.
Do some research on the Internet before you choose a free debt counseling organization. You can also consult your friends, colleagues and neighbors about free debt counseling services, if they have used one. You can compare some non-profit debt counseling agencies before you go for the one.
There are organizations such as the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, American Association of Debt Management Organizations and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling that have hundreds of free debt counseling agencies as their members. Visit their websites to see the lists of debt counseling agencies and avail the services they offer. These associations promote quality and consistent delivery of loan counseling services. These associations also claimed to have listed only paid or non-profit debt counseling agencies which are legally entitled to serve people in the United States.
In case you are a victim of any fraud, deception and unfair business practices by a free debt counseling agency, you can also inform the Federal Trade Commission which prevent such activities and take action against fraud free debt counseling agency. To file a complaint or get free information on debt issues, you can visit this website: https://www.ftc.gov/.