- 3 min read
- Figure out which consolidation option is best for you.
- Prepare the questions you want to ask consolidation agencies in advance.
- Remember that you are in control. Don't let yourself be pressured.
8 Tips for Finding the Top Debt Consolidation Agencies
There is a lot of information available about finding the top debt consolidation agencies online, including many article at Bills.com that approach the issue from different angles.
This article takes a short, direct approach. The goal is to cut through the fog and give you a short list of effective steps to get your debt under control and to find a top debt consolidation agency to assist you.
- Assess Your Situation- Examine how serious your debt problems are. Are you looking for help to improve an already decent financial picture or need to take actions to keep the wheels from falling off?
- Figure Out What Help is Needed. There are a wide variety of debt consolidation options, including consolidation loans, credit counseling, and debt settlement. Read up on them to narrow down which options are best for you. Your best choice will depend on what assets you own, what you can afford to pay each month to consolidate your debt, your debt-to-income ratio, and whether you are current on your bill or delinquent.
Use Bills.com's free tool, Debt Coach, to figure out your best road to debt freedom. Based on the goals you specify and your individual financial situation, Debt Coach will recommend a specific debt relief solution.
- Be Prepared- Have an idea of what questions you want to ask, before you speak with anyone. Write them down and have them in front of you, when you call any debt consolidation company. That way, you won't get caught up in the presentation coming your way and forget to find out things that are important to you.
- Get a Free Consultation- Seek a free consultation with the debt consolidation option that seems best for you. Don't hesitate to speak with representatives from different approaches.
- Shop Around- Make sure to talk to more than one company. You will get a better feel for the product and be able to hear if one company sounds more credible than another.
Quick tip #2
Start shopping around by getting a free debt consolidation consultation, with one of Bills.com's pre-screened debt providers.
- Research the Reputation- The top debt consolidation agencies all have solid accreditation. For credit counseling firms, look for membership in the National Federation of Credit Counselors (NFCC) or The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA). For debt settlement firms, look for membership in the AFCC (American Fair Credit Council). You can also look for online reviews, but take them with a grain of salt, as consumers who wish to complain are more vocal than ones who were satisfied.
- Avoid Advance Fees- Don't work with a firm that charges you before they start working for you. When it comes to debt settlement, only work with firms that charge a fee for settling an account, after it is settled.
- Take Control- Even when you are looking for a solution to a debt problem, you have more control than you may think. If you are considering working with a debt settlement or credit counseling firm, remember that these firms want your business, if you are a qualifying customer. Don't let anyone pressure you into a decision. Be an informed consumer. The more knowledgeable you are, the less likely that you are to be taken advantage of.
Mortgages, credit cards, student loans, personal loans, and auto loans are common types of debts. According to the NY Federal Reserve total household debt as of Q4 2023 was $17.503 trillion. Housing debt totaled $12.612 trillion and non-housing debt was $4.891 trillion.
A significant percentage of people in the US are struggling with monthly payments and about 26% of households in the United States have debt in collections. According to data gathered by Urban.org from a sample of credit reports, the median debt in collections is $1,739. Credit card debt is prevalent and 3% have delinquent or derogatory card debt. The median debt in collections is $422.
Each state has its rate of delinquency and share of debts in collections. For example, in New Mexico credit card delinquency rate was 3%, and the median credit card debt was $400.
Avoiding collections isn’t always possible. A sudden loss of employment, death in the family, or sickness can lead to financial hardship. Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with debt including an aggressive payment plan, debt consolidation loan, or a negotiated settlement.