Looking for the Best Credit Consolidation Companies?
If you are looking for help to solve your debt problems, you don’t want to talk to just anybody. Debt problems are troublesome and cause great stress. Take the time to find a company that is reliable and offers quality advice and expert service. Avoid companies that feed on your stress in order to take advantage of you.
Are you barely making your payments on time or behind on your payments and facing collection calls, overdue notices, and threats of lawsuits? If so, then you need to take action. Before you sign up for any type of Credit Consolidation Company, prepare yourself in advance.
Here are four steps to take:
- Learn about credit consolidation products.
- Look for accredited companies.
- Prepare a checklist.
- Read company reviews.
Learn About Credit Consolidation Products
There are many debt relief solutions; some you can do by yourself, and others you need to do with professional help. Three main credit consolidation products are debt settlement, debt management and loan consolidation. If you are not familiar with these debt solutions, then I recommend that you read the Bills.com article about debt relief options.
Three main types of credit consolidation companies are:
- Credit Counseling Companies
- Debt Settlement Companies
- Lenders ( Banks, Credit Unions and other lenders)
Some companies will offer more than one service, while others are more specialized. Always make sure that the company reviews your situation and offers you the best solution that meets your needs, and not theirs.
Credit Consolidation Companies and Reviews – Look for Accreditation
When looking for the best credit consolidation company, review industry related Web sites, especially as relates to accreditation. Industry affiliation does not guarantee good service or the best deal. However, accreditation is an indicator that the company is following acceptable industry practices and external reviews.
Credit Counseling Companies (CCC): The NFCC (National Foundation for Credit Counseling) requires that its members receive and maintain accreditation by the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services, Inc. (COA). This includes an external audit, at least every four years. The COA audit includes diverse areas such as financial practices and stability, and full disclosure practices. The CCS must provide a detailed and complete written plan, showing how you got into debt and the steps to get out of debt.
Debt Settlement Companies: The AFCC (American Fair Credit Council) is the leading debt settlement industry organization. All AFCC members must abide by their code of conduct guidelines. The goal of the AFCC is to ensure that the Debt Settlement Companies comply with industry standards and regulations and treat their customers fairly.
The AFCC’s code of conduct includes full compliance with all laws and regulations. The AFCC requires even stricter adherence than the FTC ruling against taking advance fees. It does not allow its members to take them at all. Other points in the code of conduct include full and transparent disclosure, reasonable and fair fees, and working for the customer only, without taking compensation from the creditors.
Lenders: When you deposit money into a bank, you check and ensure that there is FDIC insurance. There is no such mechanism for taking a loan. However, when you deal with a large lender or credit union, you feel safe that there will not be fraudulent behavior. The same cannot be said for lenders, including online lenders that deal with payday loans and fast loans for bad credit.
Anytime you take a personal loan be extra careful, and look for recommendations. For more information about finding a lender read the Bills.com article about finding a lender.
Credit Consolidation Company Reviews
Searching the internet about a company that you do not know about is a good way to get general information about the company's history and to see if the company is associated with a fraud. The down side of online reviews is that many customers will complain about a specific problem, whether or not their complaint is justified.
Bills.com offers reviews about various Credit Consolidation companies. These reviews include general information about the company, a Bills.com review, and customer reviews.
Finding the Best Credit Consolidation Company: Create a Checklist
Once you have done your background research, you can start by speaking with different companies. I recommend that you begin with larger firms that are leaders in their field and that possess strong credentials.
By speaking with an expert representative, you will get a good idea of what solutions are possible and how much to pay for the product. Use this checklist when reviewing credit consolidation companies.
- Do you get a free consultation to review your financial situation?
- Do they take upfront fees?
- Is the firm accredited?
- Are their employees accredited?
- Does the company representative earnestly seek the best solution for you, or just wants to make a sale?
- What is the fee structure?
For a detailed explanation of these points, read the Bills.com article about how to find debt consolidation companies.