If you’re struggling to keep up with your credit card payments, credit counseling is probably one solution you’re considering. However, you might hesitate to seek help because you believe one of the many myths floating around about what can happen to your credit if you talk to a credit counselor. Read on so you can separate fact from fiction.
FICTION: Credit counseling will hurt my credit score.
FACT: Credit counseling has no effect on your score. You won’t be penalized for getting the help you need. What’s more, not getting assistance could do more harm than good. If you continue to let your situation spiral out of control, you’ll be in a much worse position.
FICTION: If a counselor arranges a debt management plan, I don’t have to pay my bills.
FACT: The purpose of a debt management plan is to help you get a handle on your debt and make it easier to pay off your bills by arranging for a lower interest rate or a lower monthly payment. The goal is to learn responsible money management. In other words, you still have to pay what you owe.
FICTION: Credit counseling is expensive.
FACT: Not true. You can receive credit counseling from a certified consumer credit counselor at low or no cost.
FICTION: A credit counselor will fix my credit and wipe out all negative marks.
FACT: A consumer credit counselor cannot clean up your credit report. If the negative marks are accurate, they can remain on your report for up to seven years. A bankruptcy will remain on your report for 10 years.
For more information on credit counseling, visit the National Foundation for Credit Counseling website. They have a wealth of information, including a budget worksheet, calculators, and a financial education blog. You can also conduct a counseling session online. And help doesn’t just stop at credit cards. In addition, the NFCC offers housing counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and education.