Financial Planning for Generation X & Y Women
 
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Expert Q&A Archive

01/09/2009
Will contacting Credit Counseling Bureau show up on my credit report?
If I contact the Credit Counseling Bureau for a free session, will it show on my credit report? Is there truly a free debt counselor; if not, what is a reasonable rate?
Frank Wells:
expert info »
You can find a budget and debt counselor at www.Crown.org. They do not charge a fee for counseling, and there is a lot of information online, also. There is a budget worksheet and a debt pay-off sheet online. Best Regards.
Delores Lenzy - Jones, CPA, CIA:
expert info »
All the credits reports I've seen list your debts and your frequency of paying, i.e. whether or not you pay on time. I have never seen a Credit Counseling Bureau listed. Also, if a Credit Counseling Bureau was listed it would indicate to me that you're making an effort at
paying your debt off.

In Texas there are free debt counselors. I am not sure what a reasonable rate would be, but it doesn't hurt to ask if they will provide the service for free. Also, shop around...ask 3-4 debt counselors how much they charge and go with the one most reasonably priced. Good Luck...
Mary Ann Evans:
expert info »
Try talking to your county Cooperative Extension Family Life Expert. She is likely to be very knowledgeable.

[Editors Note: The Cooperative Extension System is a nationwide, non-credit educational network throught the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Each U.S. state and territory has a state office at its land-grant university and a network of local or regional offices. These offices are staffed by one or more experts who provide useful, practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes. You may search for a local county extension agent at:http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension.]
Kris Freeberg:
expert info »
No, it will not show up on your credit report if you consult a Credit Counseling Bureau. A couple of additional considerations:
  • Beware the mythical "average month." It doesn't exist. Prepare your budget month-by-month. Recognize irregular transactions.
  • Writing a budget is one thing; tracking it regularly and dealing with variances between budgeted and actual results is another.
  • Please see attached Budget Example
Dorothea Bernique:
expert info »
Q #1 - Just visiting or counseling with an agency will not show up on your credit report; however if you authorize them to pull a credit report that will show up as an inquiry. If you enter into a DMP (Debt Management Program) with a Consumer Counseling Credit Service (CCCS) it will show up on your credit report. Please be aware that this can be interpreted as a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Q #2 - Some non-profits may offer free debt counseling. I would first check the legitimacy of any business or agency. After that, you can check with your State Consumer Offices to check on any allowable fees that can be charged by licensed/registered businesses or agencies. Please be careful of fee-for-services, especially if they have to be paid up front.
Bettye J. Banks:
expert info »
Q #1 - A counseling session with a traditional Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) counseling agency usually does not show up on your credit report.

Verify with the agency you choose that they are members of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Should you choose to enter into a debt management program, individual creditors my show a comment to the effect that your debt with them is included in a debt management program. The counseling services usually do not make any report to the [credit] bureaus at all.

Q #2 - Almost all counseling services have a service cost of some sort. Look for reasonableness when considering a service. Ask about costs, which can range from $0.00 to several hundred dollars. Between $20-50 for the initial counseling session is probably okay. You really need to shop wisely for this or any other type of service. Ask about set-up fees, free education programs, long-term effect on credit, fees for additional counseling, and anything else that concerns you.

Shop wisely.
Michael A. Masiello:
expert info »
Q #1 - Visiting a credit counselor shouldn't impact your credit report/score.

Q #2 - Not in my experience. Most, even the not-for-profits, have fees.
Gail V. Marquet:
expert info »
Credit counseling bureaus are usually not the answer to changing your habits. There have been a lot of cases where they will take the funds and promise to pay your bills, but this is not done, leaving you in an even worse situation.

Go to www.DaveRamsey.com and look for a Financial Peace University class in your area. This is a 13-week course and you only need to purchase the materials. It is an excellent way to set up a budget, prioritize paying off your debts, and change your spending habits. This website also directs you individuals who are certified financial counselors who would gladly assist you with this. Good luck!

Joan Koonce, Ph.D:
expert info »
Q #1 - No, just visiting for a free session to discuss your options should not show on your credit report. If you enter into a debt repayment plan with the credit counseling service, that usually shows up on your credit report.

Q #2 - There are some HUD housing counselors who provide credit counseling for free because they are funded through grants from HUD. However, they do not set up debt repayment plans with creditors for clients nor do they have established relationships with lenders. They help with budgets and figuring out how to best repay the debt, but they are not responsible for repaying the debt for the clients. Credit counseling services do usually charge a fee. However, some credit counseling services are for profit while others are non-profit. Non-profit credit counseling services like Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) charge less than for profit agencies. Non-profit agencies may waive the fee initially until you are able to pay it. Credit counseling agencies can set up repayment plans and have relationships with some lenders that allow them to work with the lenders to get their client's debt payments lowered and/or their interest rate lowered or eliminated. Joan
Gerri Detweiler:
expert info »
Hi DeeDee,

I would definitely recommend you contact a credit counseling agency. (I don't work for one!) Your initial session will be confidential, and there should be no charge for the initial consultation. If you decide to enroll in a Debt Management Program (DMP) there will likely be a set-up fee and monthly fee, but they usually are quite reasonable. If you need the program and will benefit from it, then it will be a wise investment!

If you discover that the DMP does not offer enough relief, or that you cannot afford the monthly payment, then you need to consider other options like negotiating settlements on your debts or bankruptcy. I wish you the best! Gerri
Editor's Note:
You can locate your state consumer protection office from the Website of the Federal Citizen Information Center at www.consumeraction.gov/caw_state_resources.shtml.

One source of information about Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the Website of the U.S. Courts at www.uscourts.gov/bankruptcycourts/bankruptcybasics/chapter13.html.
 

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