plan, and develop and balance a budget. It has merged with Money Management International (www.mmintl.org) to offer clients the same counseling sessions by telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“If you choose our debt management plan, we will contact your creditors and have them lower or eliminate your interest rates, reduce your monthly payments, and stop collection calls,” says Brenda Freeman, education specialist for community affairs for CCCS on the Gulf Coast. “We are helping you to restructure your credit when you enter counseling and make on-time payments for six months to a year. The creditor will see that you’ve made a commitment to change your rating; this is how you reestablish positive credit.” There is a monthly charge for the debt management plan that ranges nationally from $0 to $50, according to income.
CCCS has partnered with two car dealerships and 14 mortgage companies in Houston. As a result, clients are able to purchase new cars and homes as they complete the program at lower interest rates than most lenders will extend to high-risk borrowers. “It is wise for dealerships and mortgage companies to partner with CCCS. Our clients are very valuable because they have proven themselves responsible and are debt-free,” says Freeman.
Myvesta.org and Capital One Financial Corp. have partnered to distribute a free publication to young people entitled Plastic Power for Young Adults, which offers strategies on using credit cards. You can download a copy from www.myvesta.org.
“I think that we, as consumers, especially young people, should be educated about our credit report so that we will be empowered,” says Goodjiones. “Churches, fraternities and sororities, social and civic organizations should have a credit cou
nseling specialist to come out and speak to them. It should definitely be included in high school curricula. It is my goal to become a high school counselor. I will definitely advise the students about credit. If it were taught in my high school, I would be a different person.”
The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA; www.aiccca.org), having 50 member agencies, can also assist you. Its member agencies offer various educational programs. One is arming its clients with the tools to avoid deals with unscrupulous lenders.
“It is common practice that predatory lenders have consumers believe that their credit is actually worse than it is,” says Joel Greenberg, a board member of AICCCA and president of Garden State Consumer Credit Counseling Inc. “They do not make their credit scoring guidelines available to individuals since they are not required to do so by law. It is best to shop around for the best interest rate and to go into the process armed with knowing what’s on your credit report.”
RECLAIM YOUR CREDIT
Now that you know what is on your credit report, paid off all of your delinquent accounts, and gotten expert advice, it’s time to get the credit you deserve.
l Drive Away With the Best Deal. Recognizing that one in five adults have had credit trouble such as repossessions, foreclosures, and bankruptcies, Fairlane Credit Co.