The government of Canada has outlined debt relief tips, one of which is finding a trusted credit counselor. As well, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has warned the public against companies offering help to pay off debt or repair credit but are misleading consumers.
If you find yourself struggling to make debt payments and make ends meet, you may want to consult a credit cousellor from a debt relief agency. Do not worry because talking to one does not affect your credit score.
What is s credit counselling?
According to Investopedia, credit counseling provides consumers with guidance on consumer credit, money management, debt management, and budgeting. In addition, it is one of the steps in debt relief, according to Canada Government.
A credit counsellor could provide the following services:
- one-on-one counselling
- group courses, tips, and seminars on topics such as how to make a budget and stick to it or how to use credit wisely
- debt management plans
Debt Relief Canada Government: How to Find a Credit Counsellor
Research the counseling agency’s reputation
With the spread of misinformation online, you need to put an extra effort to dig deeper into the agency’s credibility and reputation. Please make sure they are compliant with the law. As well, they should be in good standing with the provincial or national association. Meeting standards of practice means you are in good hands in finding a debt relief program.
The Canada Government released the list of associations where you can find a trusted agency:
- Credit Counselling Canada
- Canadian Association of Credit Counselling Services
- Canadian Association of Independent Credit Counselling Agencies
- Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services
It would be best if you also watched for the agency’s unresolved complaints, including false advertising and late payments to creditors. Google Reviews are also good indicators of the agency’s performance and reputation.
Examine the debt relief agency’s advertising
If it is good to be true, it probably is. Some debt relief companies claim that they could solve your debt problems quickly for only a fraction of your debt. They also promised to easily and quickly fix your credit score. Some also claim they are part of services offering debt relief from the Canada Government. If the credit counsellor or agency advertises these things, you must not avail of their services.
A legitimate agency would tell you getting into their debt relief program would temporarily affect your credit score. But they would assure you it would improve once you finish the program, and it would take time. If you are uncertain if the agency is part of a debt relief program of the Canada Government, you can contact them if the agency’s representation is genuine.
Know the exact cost of their services
The credit counseling and debt relief canada government services charges vary from one company to another. But with National Debt Relief, the initial consultations are free. There are no hidden charges, and monthly payments would not increase. In addition, the certified debt specialist would also guide you to the right program to get you out of debt, including a written proposal. You will also be given money and a debt management plan.
Check the counsellor’s qualification
Under the Canada Government, credit counselors are not legally mandated to have any specialized training. However, a reliable credit counselor should have some training.
It would help if you asked about the counselor’s qualifications, such as his education, years of experience, and specialized training. His specialized training should include:
- Accredited Financial Counsellor Canada designation, offered by the Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services
- Insolvency Counsellor’s Qualification Course, offered by the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals
This training should have given the counselor skills to support you in personal finance, consumer credit, and money management.
If the debt relief agency passes the criteria above, ask to meet the credit counselor. The most important thing here is that you feel comfortable with your counselor. You should trust him and his judgment for your debt management program to work. Remember, no legitimate debt relief service would charge you for the first meeting.
Get more debt relief tips from Canada Government here.