Credit counseling is like putting the right step forward

Credit counseling is needed by all those individuals whose monthly expenditure is higher than their income. Most of these individuals use credit cards with abandon but don’t know what to do when the monthly statements arrive.

They need the assistance of companies that can help them clear their debts, and also advise them of the ways to manage their debts. However, even these companies can do little if the individuals continue to splurge. The cornerstone of any counseling is financial discipline. The individuals have to learn to curb their instincts.

They also need to decide when to seek credit counseling. Some of the indicators are:

- When they can’t pay the minimums on their credit cards; - When they are consistently late in paying one or more of their regular bills; - When they start getting hounded by collection agencies; or - When creditors refuse to accommodate them any further.

These are ominous signs, and the individuals need to seek professional help. However, while doing so they need to be careful. There are too many financial sharks waiting to grab such individuals. It is always advisable to seek the assistance of a firm that is affiliated to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies.

Be careful of firms that demand high set up fees. Also monitor if the payments that you make to these firms are actually being channeled to the creditors or not. There have been cases when counseling firms have taken the payments from an individual but have not passed it on to creditors. Even when they have done so, they have done it late.

You must also steer clear of false promises. Be careful of companies that promise you a magical debt-free future. The genuine credit card counseling companies will not paint rosy pictures. They will let the individual know the consequences of repaying debt at lower interest rates.

They will not hide the prospect of an individual’s credit rating getting a knocking as a result of the debt repayment plan drawn up by them. The individuals must remember that it is better to have a lower credit rating than a negative rating on account of bankruptcy. Remember bankruptcy is a black mark that will stay on an individual’s file for a decade.

You must also understand that credit counseling is a positive step. It is an indication of your intent to clear all your debts. This is what the creditors would like to see.

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