Consumer Credit Counselor
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A consumer credit counselor is someone who advises consumers on handling their use of credit. There are many such advisors available, but it pays to be selective and research properly as some such advisors can do more harm than good.
The industry is worth about 7 billion dollars a year, and is full of potential problems, controversy, and downright fraud and misrepresentation. One of the huge problems in the industry is that a lot of the advisors are paid according to the services they sell, and have no experience in actually using the services. Since their profits are often linked directly to the cost of the services
they sell, they can obviously have their own interests and profit as a much higher priority than the interests of the consumer. Like stock brokers, many of them are really salespeople, and their only interest is persuading the consumer to do things from which the salesman makes a profit.
Some such advisors function by charging large upfront fees, giving exaggerated claims to entice people to pay the fee, then simply disappearing with the money.
Some advisors fees are paid by the lenders themselves, which effectively makes them part of the lenders industry, which is for good reason controversial and unlikely to be in the interest of the borrowers. Another detail to watch out for is when certain advisors take your first repayment as their own fee, so none of it goes to the lenders, which can actually make your credit rating worse and make your overall situation less good than it was.
However, there are non-profit organizations which can help with things such as negotiating lower repayments or lower interest or fees, which can be genuinely helpful.
Some people might genuinely need help with managing their borrowing for example when they are unable to meet necessary repayments, or have become considerably late in paying for certain debts. There are situations where the best option is bankruptcy.
One common misconception about going to a credit counselor is that it will be worse for your credit rating than bankruptcy. This is usually false. If you are unsure, get a wide range of correct information from reliable sources.
A consumer credit counselor might be helpful in some situations, but careful research and a realistic and rational approach is wise.
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