The first thing to understand is that credit counseling and debt consolidation is not the same thing. Credit counseling involves a debt counselor working with you to assist you in making a budget so that you can pay off your debt, whereas debt consolidation involves the payment of a bulk amount of money each month allowing the company to issue payments to your creditors. You have to be careful that the company you choose is not attempting to negotiate a settlement by holding onto your payments for an unreasonable amount of time in order to coerce your creditor into settling for pennies on the dollar. Though debt consolidation may assist you in getting your finances under control, a settlement will hurt your credit, so you need to avoid that at all costs.
Do not let a debt consolidation company convince you that they can negotiate a lower payment plan than other companies because this just isnt possible. The creditors have set programs for those who enter into debt consolidation programs, and only under extenuating circumstances are those programs open to negotiation. Dont be fooled by the claims that you will save over half on your payments because except for payments that might be past due and showing as a minimum payment due, that just isnt going to happen.
Another thing to be wary of is that companies cannot negotiate interest rates that are lower than that of the rate that is charged to the customers with the highest credit rating. If you know that your friend has excellent credit and is paying 9.5% interest on his new car loan, be wary if you are quoted a rate more than 2% under that and you have questionable credit. It doesnt make good business sense for a company to give a lower interest rate to someone who has only fair or poor credit than what is given to someone with excellent or good credit. Its a ploy to get you in, and once there, your final contract is going to demand a much higher rate than you were quoted. By then, its too late for you to back out unless you are conscientious enough to read everything you sign, something many people dont do.
Debt consolidation companies can be quite helpful to people who have tried and failed to get out of debt either because they dont know how or they are unable to stick to a budget. They may be quite serious about getting out of debt, but once the money is in their hands, they just forget everything they had promised to do. For them, debt consolidation or even a plan that involves paying creditors before the paycheck is ever received, is the best solution. You must choose the plan that is best for you, but you must also keep the facts in mind as well. Do plenty of research before making a decision, and be sure to read every piece of paper that is passed your way.
Darnell is a writer for an online debt consolidation blog that offers tips on how to consolidate debt and stay out of debt. For more information on how to legally eliminate debt visit our online debt consolidation blog.