Since 1991, Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) has helped nearly 320,000 people consolidate their debt. The company is a non-profit organization that provides personal financial education and solutions. CESI states that its mission statement is to enhance economic security for each customer. CESI is ISO certified and accredited with the FCAA. The company promises a 100% satisfaction and money back guarantee on their services, but many negative reviews center around poor customer service. The company also does not offer any information on what kind of interest rates they can negotiate with creditors.
- Debt Relief Calculator
- Unsecured Debt Types
- Guaranteed Services
Debt Relief Calculator
CESI has an amazing debt relief calculator on their website for people to see how consolidation can help them. The calculator asks users to answer questions about how much debt they currently hold, what kind of income you take home, and what kind of objectives are most important to you. Then the calculator will make recommendations for debt settlement, debt management, or bankruptcy based on your answers. It is then that the company makes its pitch for its services.
Unsecured Debt Types
Not only does CESI work with credit card debt, but they also help consolidate student loan debt, medical debt, and some other unsecured debts. To see if your unsecured debt qualifies, you will need to speak with one of their credit counselors during a free consultation.
One thing that we do appreciate about CESI is that they are accredited with the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA). Additionally, the company has certified financial counselors on staff to help consumers make the best possible decision. Accreditations are maintained by keeping a specific set of standards that guarantee quality service. Potential customers should look for companies which carry industry accreditations.
We also like the fact that CESI offers a free consultation to potential customers that might be on the fence about signing up for the company's services. Additionally, if you sign up for the program and are not satisfied with the service, the company offers a 100% money back guarantee.
- Negative Reviews
- No Interest Rate Information
- Missing NFCC Accreditation
- IRS Lawsuit
Most reviews we have of CESI are negative. Current and former clients say the employees at CESI have poor communication skills and that they work very slow. Similarly, one review mentioned that employees always seemed confused about his case when he called them. There has also been complaints that the amounts quoted from the consultation changed completely because the negotiation with the creditors did not go as planned.
No Interest Rate Information
CESI does not share several key pieces of information which makes it difficult for us to rate them against their competitors. For starters, the company does not include what kind of interest rates it can secure for customers from creditors. Many companies have at least an average or estimate of what they can achieve. This can make it difficult for customers who are shopping around for a debt consolidation company.
Missing NFCC Accreditation
Although CESI is accredited with the FCAA, the company is not accredited with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). The NFCC is another organization that assures quality and legitimacy of services. While we commend CESI for being accredited through the FCAA, we would also like to see accreditation through the NFCC.
The company's former issues with the IRS is also concerning. In 2004, the IRS took CESI to court because it appeared to be a for-profit company masquerading as a nonprofit. CESI was being managed by a for-profit company called Amerix. CESI ended up cutting ties with Amerix in 2011 in order to keep its nonprofit status. Hopefully, the company has been able to move past this debacle.
The Bottom Line
CESI promises customers some really excellent features such as low upfront fees, a free consultation, and a 100% money back guarantee. While the company's website promises great features, their customer care representatives do not upkeep these promises according to customer reviews. On top of that, CESI is missing key information to help us judge them against other companies. At this time, we recommend working with a more transparent, customer-oriented debt consolidation company.
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