Just for a moment, let’s assume that you’ve suddenly realized that there are some real reasons to maintain a high credit score. Maybe you want to buy or refinance a home, lease a new car, qualify for a job, or for any of dozens of other reasons, knowing and staying on top of your credit status is very important. The days when you can go into town and simply sign your name for goods and services at the “general store” are long gone. Each one of us has a credit profile, and each one of us must be aware of what it is. If you don’t have any idea of what your credit report says about you, then quite frankly, you’re gambling with the outcome of very critical decisions made from the possible misinformation contained in them. That's no what you want!
Did you know that you’re entitled to a free credit report from all three of the major credit bureaus every year? Do you know how to take advantage of that opportunity? If not, please take a minute to read this article “FREE CREDIT REPORT”. It's a good place to start.
Okay, so now let’s say that you went and got a free copy of your credit report, what do you do if the results are less than favorable? Are there errors in it? Do you feel that you may be “In Over Your Head” in dealing with it? Well, not to worry, help is available. But caution is required, there are many scams and traps out there, and you need to know how to find the legitimate assistance you need.
One in eleven American families have contacted some kind of credit counseling service for assistance. The key is to make sure you are contacting a legitimate one. So how do you identify reputable companies to help you? The best place to start might be with http://nfcc.org. This is the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Once at this web site, you can click on “Take the First Step”. This will lead you to a page where you can input your zip code to find affiliated organizations to assist you with your credit issues. On a recent visit we found three different locations when entering a random zip code.
There are of course legitimate agencies which are not affiliated with NFCC but, in our opinion, your best bet is to start with NFCC recognized organizations. There are dozens and dozens of organizations (businesses) waiting in line to “help” you. But this is an area where the old adage “Buyer Beware” could not be more important. Many organizations have been able to obtain non-profit status for their companies but that doesn’t mean that these same companies aren’t out to make a big profit from your unfortunate situation. In fact, a good number of them actually prey on people when they need help the most simply because they are the most vulnerable. The IRS is slowly, but surely, working to remove non-profit status from these organizations, but it’s slow-going. In other words, don’t rely solely on tax-exempt status to determine who to entrust.
If, somehow, you’ve gotten involved with an agency more concerned with their profits than your financial well being there are some warning flags that should go off in your head. If they “guarantee” immediate restoration of a great credit score, hang up the phone. If they ask for a large payment amount up front, hang up the phone. If they offer no counseling or intervention to help you get back on your feet, hang up the phone. If they ask you to send in a large sum of money to “buy” your good name back, most definitely, hang up the phone!
With the help of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling Organizations finding reputable agencies to help you shouldn’t be that difficult. The ones which popped up on our search were all Consumer Credit Counseling outlets. Make contact with those who you find from your search. They may assist you in contacting your creditors. They may work to help you establish payment plans for your creditors, or sometimes negotiate improved terms or interest rates on your behalf. They may charge a nominal fee for services—usually about $50.
With the help of a legitimate consumer credit counseling service, many, many people have gotten out of debt and have, over time, vastly improved their credit score along with their quality of life. Just make sure you don’t get caught by the “too good to be true” scammers who promise fully restored excellent credit in the blink of an eye. It simply won’t happen, and you will actually end up the worst for it. Take the time tested, legitimate route, when getting yourself out of debt . It's slower, but you won’t regret it.