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What are disadvantages of consumer credit counseling?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Debt Relief

Some people see consumer credit counseling as a convenient way to manage massive debt. Many financially strapped Floridians seek these services to reduce or eliminate overwhelming credit card balances, medical bills and loans.

However, not all counseling services are your allies—especially for-profit agencies. Many of these entities prioritize their profits over your financial health, which can lead to more harm than good. Before you commit, carefully weigh the pros and cons of credit counseling versus bankruptcy.

Hidden risks of consumer credit counseling

Consumer credit counseling may seem like a lifeline, but it’s important to be aware of the potential pitfalls:

  • Long-term commitment: Counseling services often require years to complete, during which your financial situation may change.
  • Impact on credit: Enrollment in a debt management plan may be noted on your credit report, negatively impacting your score and borrowing ability.
  • Upfront and monthly fees: Even nonprofit agencies may charge fees that add to your financial burden.
  • Less flexibility: Debt management plans can restrict your ability to manage your own finances.
  • Creditor issues: Not all creditors will agree to the terms set by counseling agencies, which could leave you juggling negotiations.
  • False sense of security: Believing you are handling your debt, you might overlook other more effective options.
  • Potential for scams: Unfortunately, the industry is rife with disreputable agencies preying on the financially distressed.

If you decide that bankruptcy is the best way to reduce your debt, Florida requires consumer credit counseling before you can file. You must complete two classes – one before filing and another after.

Bankruptcy may be a better option for debt relief

While long-term consumer credit counseling services offer a debt management plan, bankruptcy could be the life raft you need to start afresh.

Bankruptcy can discharge most of your debts, halt foreclosures, prevent repossession, stop wage garnishments and protect you from harassing calls by creditors.

Before you take permanent steps, it’s advisable to seek knowledgeable legal assistance so you understand credit counseling risks and requirements. Experienced debt relief attorneys may also help you decide whether bankruptcy offers a better way to address your debt.

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