Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) is a nonprofit organization designed to help people help themselves solve their debt problems. The questions below are the ones frequently asked about CCCS and our counseling sessions. If you have additional questions, please feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. Will my family, employer, or creditors know that I have an appointment with you?
A. No one will know you have an appointment unless you tell them. Confidentiality is very important to us so we will never give your family or employer any information about your appointment. Your creditors may call us to confirm if you tell them that you have an appointment with us.
Q. What happens in a counseling session?
A. During the session, a trained, professional counselor will analyze your income, expenses and overall financial situation, discuss possible solutions, and make recommendations for you to consider. We want to help you identify workable solutions to your financial problems. This is why creditors continue to support us and will work with you on a long-term basis.
Q. I’m having trouble making payments to creditors. What should I do until my appointment?
A. Continue paying your priorities—rent/mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance, taxes, student loans, secured debt and other bills as best you can. Communicate with your creditors and let them know you have an appointment with CCCS. Do not refuse to talk to them nor make any promises you can’t keep.
Q. Will creditors continue their finance charges?
A. Some creditors will stop or reduce their finance charges and/or other fees for clients on a Debt Management Program (DMP). It is up to each individual creditor how much they are willing to reduce your interest.
Q. Can CCCS stop creditors from calling me?
A. No. However, some creditors will postpone calls if they know you have an appointment. If you eventually enter into a Debt Management Program, the majority of phone calls will stop as long as you maintain your payment arrangements as agreed through CCCS. It takes about 90 days for creditors to finalize negotiations. Therefore, you can expect calls from some creditors within this time frame.
Q. Can CCCS stop legal action?
A. In the majority of cases CCCS is able to work with creditors toward a positive solution that will satisfy everyone and hopefully stop any legal action. Most creditors prefer money to legal action provided regular payments are being made on the account. However, utilizing CCCS’ services does not interfere with the terms of the contract you signed when credit was extended, and creditors may choose to enforce the terms of the contract to protect their interests.
Q. What if a creditor does not agree to a Debt Management Program?
A. Very seldom does a creditor ever refuse payment through CCCS. We always try to work out an agreement that will satisfy everyone; creditor and client.
Q. Is there a charge for this service?
A. Counseling is FREE. The majority of our funding comes from creditors (banks, retailers, credit unions, etc.) who support CCCS. We are also partially funded by the United Way . However, if you sign up on a Debt Management Program there is a sliding fee of up to $35.00 a month to administer the plan. There is a $40.00 one-time set up fee payable only if you sign up for the DMP. We do charge $10.00-$25.00 if you choose for us to pull your credit report but will review it with you and provide you with a copy. There are no other fees associated with our program.
Q. Do I get to keep my credit cards?
A. No. One of the requirements for a DMP is that there will be no more use of credit while you are on the program. Since we are asking creditors to accept reduced payments, it stands to reason that they do not want you getting further into debt. Creditors require that CCCS verify that all of your credit card accounts are on the program.
Q. How does this program differ from bankruptcy?
A. Bankruptcy can stay on your credit report for up to ten years and can greatly affect your ability to obtain credit in the future. The CCCS Debt Management Program is a 100% pay back plan, which is voluntary for all participants. Education is a strong component of a DMP, which will enable you to manage your money more effectively in the future. We believe that education is the key to prevent future financial difficulty and that it will give you the skills you need to succeed. For clients who successfully complete the program, CCCS will help them to re-establish credit. Most creditors look at CCCS as a positive way for consumers to solve their financial problems.
Q. How is this going to affect my credit?
A. How your credit report looks after completing a DMP will depend on what it looked like when you entered the program, the consistency of your payments, whether you increased them over time, and the individual creditor’s reporting policies. Most creditors do not give you a bad credit rating just for being on our program. CCCS has no responsibility for any past, present or future credit ratings.
Q. Will you help me “clean up” my credit?
A. No one can remove any negative information from your credit report if the information is true. While CCCS will work with creditors to update your accounts to show zero balances on the accounts paid through CCCS, we have no control over how your pay history is reported by individual creditors. The program can help you make regular monthly payments, which will help you rebuild a good payment history. We will also review your credit report with you in order to ensure that it is as accurate as possible.
Q. Does CCCS report to the credit bureau?
A. No. We do not report to the credit bureau. Your creditors will continue to report to the bureau on their individual accounts and some may notate that you are paying through a counseling service.
Q. If I’m not delinquent, how will a DMP affect my accounts?
A. That depends on the creditors and what kind of repayment plan is worked out. If you are current with your bills and your counselor recommended a DMP, it is probably because you anticipate a problem in the near future. In order to keep your credit in good shape, it is important that you verify that your accounts are set up correctly from the beginning of the program and make your payments every month.
Q. How do I know that I can trust CCCS?
A. We understand that there are a lot of debt management agencies out there and not all of them are legitimate companies. We have been in Oklahoma since 1967 and our employees are very active in all of the communities where we have offices. We are members of many Chambers of Commerce, the United Way , and in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. We are also a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), which is a national organization that oversees hundreds of debt management agencies nationwide. We must also meet rigorous standards and maintain a very high quality of service to keep our accreditation with the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services (COA). Our counselors must become certified with the NFCC, which consists of passing several tests on many different subjects pertaining to financial counseling, and they regularly attend continuing education programs to ensure that they have the timeliest information on many subjects.
Q. Will I ever get credit again? Will CCCS help?
A. One of the benefits of successfully completing a DMP is help from CCCS, the National Foundation for Consumer Credit and certain credit grantors in re-establishing credit. Certain criteria must have been met for this assistance:
• Did you make your deposits on time as agreed?
• Did you contact us promptly if there was a problem?
• Did your payments to creditors increase over the course of the program?
• Do you have some funds set aside for periodic expenses and emergencies?
It is up to the individual creditor whether or not credit will in fact be granted. If you begin a DMP and then choose to resume control of your own accounts rather than repay your debt through CCCS, we WILL NOT be able to help you re-establish credit.