Considering Credit Counseling

Gisele Jefferson
Family & Consumer Science/Youth Development Extension Agent, Golden Plains Area

Do you know someone struggling with too many bills and growing debt? They feel overwhelmed and wonder where to go for help. Credit counseling may be helpful. What can they really do? How can you know whom to trust?

Make sure the credit counseling agency is accredited. They should be a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling ( or the Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies ( Check the websites, or call NFCC 1-800-388-2227 for an agency near you.

Credit counseling services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. In-person credit counseling is also available by appointment in the agency offices. In Colorado, there are several offices for the Consumer Credit Counseling Services (nonprofits). They are located throughout the Denver metro area, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Grand Junction, Fort Collins ( ), and Sterling. Check them out at

A credit counselor can help with education, financial workshops or resources. Topics may cover budget counseling, use of credit, debt management, foreclosure prevention, and bankruptcy counseling. Through a debt management plan, counselors work with your creditors. They arrange a new plan to pay off your debts and reduce interest costs. You make one payment per month or per paycheck to the agency. Then, they make the agreed payments to your creditors.

Often the first basic consultation is free. Many agencies offer free or low-cost information. They may also offer educational workshops or webinars. Typical fees for a nonprofit credit counseling agency may be an initial $25 to $100 administrative fee to set up a debt management program (DMP). Some agencies charge a modest monthly fee for managing the plan. Before enrolling in a DMP, get a written statement of the costs.