Debt Consolidation Services Tips

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How do I know if its time for me to contact a debt counseling service?

When to Make the Call

Not sure when to officially call a credit agency or contact a debt counselor? Consider these scenarios:

  • If you take out a cash advance because you do not have cash. Emergencies happen, and that is understood, so be very cautious if you use cash advances.
  • Have you applied for a credit increase and been denied? This is different than your credit card company periodically raising your limit. This is done to reward its card members for demanding responsible use of credit.
  • Have you lost track of whom and what you owe?
  • Are you paying off a credit card by using another credit card? If you are using one debt to pay off another debt, you are not making financially responsible decisions.

These are just a few examples of situations where you might find yourself in. If this is the case, do yourself a favor and contact a debt counselor right away.

Who can I turn to for debt consolidation?

Consider a Debt Consolidation Service

Hopelessness, worry, anxiety, and fear are all emotions associated with financial difficulties. It may seem as if you have no where to go or nobody to turn to. That's not necessarily true. There are organizations out there that help individuals in financial despair consolidate their loans into one easy payment. Organizations like the Debt Counselors of America, and the National Foundation for Consumer Credit, are the most widely recognized.

Most members of the NFCC are known as Consumer Credit Counselors, and provide free or low cost debt counseling services. Consumer Credit Counselors are part of a national network that has local offices throughout the country that individuals can walk into and seek assistance. If there isn't a Consumer Credit Counselor office in your area, you can turn to the Debt Counselors of America. They can assist you over the phone or via the Internet. The aforementioned organizations specialize in helping people get their financial affairs in order. You don't necessarily to be facing a financially challenging situation to take advantage of their services. For a list of names, phone numbers, and addresses of NFCC members log on to

How do I deal with debt collectors?

Don't be a Victim

With consumer debt at an all time high, it's no surprise that creditors want their money back. Business is booming for collections agencies, and they are getting more creative and aggressive with their collections practices. The majority of the complaints are not targeted toward the creditors themselves, but they are aimed at the collections agencies that represent these creditors. These third party collections agencies are aggressive, and downright ruthless. These aggressive agencies accounted for nearly 15,000 complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission in 2001.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1977 established some guidelines for collections agencies. These rules included no calling prior to 8:00 am, or after 9:00 p.m., calling you at your place of employment, threatening to garnish your wages, or threaten to take you to court. If you are fed up with these calls, you do have options.

Make it crystal clear that their phone calls are causing you emotional, and physiological distress. If you communicate that they are causing you distress, the call are supposed to stop. Write a Cease and Desist letter to the collection agency outlining the distress they have caused. If after your phone call, and your letter they still fail to comply, you can file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and your states Attorney General's Office.

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Lynda Moultry