Written by: Aaron Hall | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: July 8th, 2020
There's no way around it—the debt consolidation industry can be downright shady. Plenty of reputable companies out there that stand at the ready to help customers in crisis, but for every good company, there are plenty of rotten ones. So how can you tell who's legit and who isn't?
It comes down to accreditations. A few key accreditations we'll look at are the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the Financial Counseling Association of America, and the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors.
National Foundation for Credit Counseling
The NFCC was founded in 1951, which makes it the nation's largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. Members of the NFCC are experts in a variety of fields, including the following:
- Credit/Debt Counseling
- Bankruptcy Counseling
- Housing and Mortgage Counseling
- Reverse Mortgage Counseling
- Foreclosure Prevention Counseling
- First-Time Home Buyer Counseling
- Student Loan Debt Counseling
- Debt Management Plans
- Credit Report Reviews
- Financial Education
Debt Management Plans (DMP) are one of the services that NFCC specializes in. A DMP is essentially the same thing as a debt consolidation plan. It involves paying off debts to creditors over a length of three to five years and eliminating the debt which you already have. Your NFCC representative will help you devise a payment plan that will best fit your budget and will get you out of debt as quickly as possible.
Every member of the NFCC is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), which mediates the efficiency of a nonprofit financial counseling agency.
Financial Counseling Association of America
The FCAA is all about making sure customers of debt management services receive the highest quality assistance available. The organization also exists to make sure there is an equilibrium among the customer, creditors, and the member agency. That way, everyone is beneficial and successful.The organization does this by providing consumer protection guidelines for its members, which involves oversight measures.
The organization does this by providing consumer protection guidelines for its members, which involves oversight measures. The FCAA also represents its members before state and federal legislative bodies, including lobbying for consumer financial education and industry initiatives in the media. Member satisfaction is also measured regularly to measure the needs of its members.
National Association of Certified Credit Counselors
The mission of the NACCC is as follows:
"Enhance the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to help clients increase in financial literacy, address negative money behaviors, and implement sound financial management through holistic financial and career counseling."
NACCC members are required to continue their own education to become recertified after a two-year period. When a professional does this, it's a good sign that they're staying up-to-date on current financial laws and regulations.
The curriculum to become NACCC-certified involves study in financial problem solving, consumer credit, consumer protection legislation, and the causes and solutions of delinquent debt. So members of the NACCC will not only help you plan to get yourself out of debt but will help you identify the behaviors that led you into debt.
How Can You Know Who Has These Accreditations?
Recently, Best Company has compiled a list of companies that are accredited with some of these organizations. Some of the top companies that include some of these accreditations include Consolidated Credit, DebtWave Credit Counseling, and DebtGuru. See them for yourself, and avoid getting scammed!