Archive for October, 2006

Mandatory Credit Counseling – The First Year

In a press release issued today, the the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) commented on the first year of mandatory credit counseling before filing bankruptcy as a result of Bankruptcy Reform legislation passed in 2005 that requires all debtors to receive credit counseling before they file for bankruptcy.

Some of their key findings:

— Through the first 11 months of the new law, NFCC members delivered 563,494 bankruptcy counseling and education sessions and issued 630,422 certificates.

— Consumers filing for bankruptcy were “upside-down” financially, with average unsecured debt being $11,599 greater than average annual income and the unsecured debt to income ratio has deteriorated since the April NFCC report.

— Mortgage delinquency was more prevalent for consumers filing for bankruptcy than for those receiving non-bankruptcy counseling.

— Phone and Internet counseling continue to be the predominant choice for services.

The full press release can be read here. Clearly the cost of providing the mandatory credit counseling is more expensive than originally anticipated, so further changes to the rules are possible. Stay tuned to this credit counseling Blog for updates as they become available.

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What’s the difference between credit counseling and debt consolidation?

This is a very common question, because a credit counseling Debt Management Program may appear to be very similar to debt consolidation. In both cases you have more debt than you can handle, so you enter into a program where you make a monthly payment to repay your debts.

In debt consolidation, you get a loan to repay all of your debts. You now have one monthly payment.

f you enter into a Debt Management Plan, your credit counselor works out payment arrangements with your creditors, and you make one monthly payment to your credit counselor, who then distributes the money to your creditors.

In both cases you make one monthly payment to deal with your debts. There are however two significant differences.

First, you must qualify for a debt consolidation loan based on your income and your credit. You may be required to provide outside security, such as a car or a house, to get the loan. The debt consolidator then lends you the money to repay your debts. With credit counseling there is no credit qualification; it is up to the creditors to accept or reject your plan. You do not need to provide any outside security.

The other significant difference is that you will be paying interest on your debt consolidation loan at the going rate, which may be very high if you have less than perfect credit. With credit counseling, you are paying a reduced interest rate. In many cases there is no interest if you make your payments as agreed.

If you have more debt than you can handle, investigate both debt consolidation loans and credit counseling, and then decide which option is best for you.

 

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