Credit counseling is often equated with debt consolidation, though they are not necessarily the same thing. There are basically three ways that the credit counseling term is used. First, it can be the same thing as debt consolidation. Many companies use “credit counseling” as a nicer way to refer to debt.
A second way that credit counseling can be a “good” term is to actually mean counseling. Many credit reduction companies and private financial institutions offer credit counseling as a type of financial planning. Counseling can help figure out how much debt is owed and how to control debt in the future. In this sense, credit counseling should be apart of every debt reduction strategy.
Finally, credit counseling can be a negative thing. The credit counseling industry is so profitable that dozens of new companies spring up each month. Many of them are operated by hucksters out to make a buck at your expense. Newsweek recently ran a story about the numerous complaints the FTC has received from consumers taken for a ride by credit counseling services. Because many of these companies care only about making a big profit, they don’t bother to adequately train their counselors, or they hire telemarketer types that are clearly unqualified to offer advice on debt and budgeting. Some counselors have actually told their clients to stop paying their car and home loans and send the money to the counseling service – these people had their cars repossessed and homes foreclosed!
About 60 percent of those who sign up for credit counseling drop out. You can find dozens of sites on the Internet where those who have participated in credit counseling warn those who haven’t not to sign-up.