What is Financial Counseling? What is Credit Counseling? What are Debt Management Plans? What’s the Difference?!?!?

What is Financial Counseling?  What is Credit Counseling?  What are Debt Management Plans?  What’s the Difference?!?!?

Financial Counseling can also be called budget counseling or financial coaching.  This is a service provided by many nonprofit or for-profit service providers to review a personal budget.  An agency offering Financial Counseling may or may not be offering Credit Counseling and Debt Management.  When a Credit Counseling organization offers a Financial Counseling session, it will always include components regarding Credit Counseling and Debt Management. 

Credit Counseling and Debt Management are often synonymous when locating information.  While very closely related, they are not the same activity.  Let’s first review what each of those truly are:

·         Credit Counseling is the process where a counselor reviews a consumer’s budget debt scenario that can be resolved through all the various methods available; including, 1) self-budgeting and power payment methods, 2) consolidation loans or housing refinancing options, 3) Debt Management Plans, 4) debt settlements, and 5) bankruptcy.

·         A Debt Management Plan (DMP) is a contracted service offered by an organization offering Credit Counseling.  The DMP includes all unsecured debts with the ability to workout arrangements with the perspective creditors listed.  The creditors listed usually offer one or more benefits for their inclusion on the DMP; including, 1) lower interest, 2) lower monthly payment, 3) payoff within 60 months, 4) re-age of past due amounts (bringing the account current for credit reporting purposes), and 5) stopped late and over-limit fees.  The only people knowledgeable enough to provide the specifics of how a DMP can work for you are those that offer a DMP directly. 

It’s for these reasons that Credit Counseling and Debt Management are inseparably linked services.  An individual cannot have a Credit Counseling session without the review of an actionable Debt Management Plan; an individual cannot have a Debt Management Plan without first engaging in Credit Counseling.

The Federal Trade Commission notes that “most reputable credit counselors are non-profit and offer services at local offices, online, or on the phone” (source, FTC website).  The FTC also states that reputable counselors are trained in consumer credit, money and debt management, and budgeting; without each of these a counselor would fall short of the FTC’s definition of a reputable organization.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) trained housing counselors are experts in housing related issues.  Their training consists of 1) pre-purchase counseling to assist those in obtaining a new home, 2) post-purchase or delinquency mortgage counseling, 3) rental counseling for those that have difficulties with their landlord, 4) reverse mortgage counseling, and 5) budget only counseling to train individuals on personal budget techniques and provide ideas on how to reduce personal expenses to better balance their budget.  HUD housing counselors that don’t work with an agency that provides Debt Management Plans are not trained to provide information on how a Debt Management Plan will work for anyone.  It’s understandable though, how can they provide specific information on a service they do not directly engage.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau echoes the view of the FTC, “Credit counseling organizations can advise you on your money and debts, help you with a budget, and offer money management workshops” (source, CFPB website).  Without a full spectrum review of an individual’s debts and advice of all of the options to pay them off, a counselor falls short of the CFPB’s definition of credit counseling.

New York State’s Department of Financial Services permits Debt Management activities under the “Budget Planner” license.  With the services synonymously and inseparably linked, only licensed Budget Planners in New York can ethically note themselves as Credit Counselors.

The only agency in Western New York able to provide Credit Counseling is Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, Inc. (CCCS of Buffalo).  CCCS is a non-profit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and debt management assistance to consumers since 1965.  CCCS helps consumers trim expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts.  Counselors are trained and certified through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and HUD housing counseling.  CCCS of Buffalo is licensed by the NYS Department of Financial Services as a “Budget Planner”.

Counseling is available at our Main Office in West Seneca, in one of our Satellite Offices, by telephone and via Internet.  Visit www.consumercreditbuffalo.orgfor more information.

Know the Difference!

And we keep growing! Now able to help residents in Louisiana, Washington and Hawaii 🌴 become debt free! Call 1-800-926-9685 or visit us at consumercreditbuffalo.org.

Know the difference between Debt Management and Debt Settlement, and take advantage of the financial education and non-biased advice of a non-profit such as CCCS/Money Mentors. Our appointments are not consultations or a sales pitch, it is a true analysis of your unique financial situation and an honest review of what the pros and cons are to your various options to become debt free.
✔️New York
✔️West Virginia
✔️North Carolina

Consumer Credit Counseling Service Provides Debt Assistance and Financial Counseling

Get Help Now—Before You Spend Your Tax Return!
Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) encourages local residents to take advantage of its financial counseling and debt management services. Issues arise because many people have poor credit—or no credit.  CCCS can help folks with a variety of financial situations through their one on one financial counseling programs. As Tax Season unfolds, it presents a great opportunity to make a commitment to improving financial affairs.
Recent information reveals that a majority of Americans live in precarious financial situations. 
According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED)’s Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, announcing that 51% of consumers don’t have prime credit, meaning if they can take out a loan, they are forced to do so at sometimes exorbitant rates.
According to the CFED, “being unable to borrow from a mainstream lender can have devastating consequences on household family finances. One option is to not borrow at all, leaving these households disconnected from opportunities to get ahead. The other option is to turn to payday lenders and check-cashing services. Although families sometimes feel like these alternative financial services are their only option, relying on them means relying on a predatory industry that strips hard-earned money from millions of working families each year. Of course, individual consumers aren’t predatory lenders’ only prey—owners of small businesses often get trapped in the cycle of debt perpetuated by unscrupulous lenders.”
The report states that 26 million people in the United States are “credit invisible,” meaning they don’t have enough of a borrowing history to generate a credit report, and another 19 million adults have credit records that are considered “unscorable,” meaning that they have some credit history, but it is insufficient to assess their creditworthiness. In other words, 45 million people in the US are unable to borrow money from a mainstream lender to finance a business, buy a home, pay for college, cover medical expenses or even buy a car to get them to their job.  (2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard)
CCCS is the only local organization that can help build, maintain and restore credit. Unfortunately, many for profit businesses prey upon those with credit issues, claiming that they can magically fix poor credit. Almost always, these companies charge thousands of dollars and never solve the underlying problems.
Comprehensive financial counseling is the best route for those struggling; actually the best route for anyone who wants a stable financial future. At CCCS, nationally certified financial counselors provide various programs based upon each individual’s current situation. In a typical session, counselors will:
·         Review income and monthly expenses
·         Review Credit Report and Score
·   Analyze unsecured debts (credit cards, retail cards, finance company loans, collection agencies, judgments and medical bills) and review appropriate debt repayment options
·        Provide a written overview of each client’s financial situation and action steps to take
·         Supply resources to achieve financial goals and address financial concerns
CCCS counselors may recommend a Debt Management Plan (DMP)—a method to systematically pay down outstanding debt through monthly deposits to CCCS, which are then distributed to creditors.
Advantages of a CRP:
·         Lower monthly payments
·         Reduced interest rates
·         Waived late/over limit fees
·         Elimination of collection calls
·         Having only one monthly payment
·         Becoming debt free in 5 years or less
Student Loan Counseling is another key service offered at CCCS, created to help the rapidly growing epidemic of student loan burden. CCCS also offers Budgeting Sessions, Credit Report Reviews, Pre-Purchase Home Counseling, and Mortgage Delinquency Counseling. Ultimately, those experiencing any financial issues—and/or those aiming for a stable financial future—should contact CCCS to schedule an appointment today. CCCS has several locations and is very flexible with scheduling, even offering online counseling sessions. Call 712-2060 or go to www.consumercreditbuffalo.org for more information.

CCCS is growing, and hiring!

CCCS is growing, and hiring! Please share, resumes can be sent to robert.dunn@cccsbuffalo.org.

Job Description

Job Title:
                    Financial Wellness Specialist


                        Vice President of Counseling 

A Financial Wellness Specialist’s primary responsibility is to conduct counseling sessions with individuals and families regarding budgeting, debt and credit issues.  A Specialist will provide financial education and guidance while recommending various educational and community programs in order to improve clients’ financial situations.  Financial Wellness Specialist’s empower clients to take control of their financial lives, in an empathetic and compassionate manner, while always accounting for what will be in the client’s best interest based on the client’s unique situation. Financial Wellness Specialist’s also provide Counseling Intake support at the initial contact point for clients and all general incoming calls, requiring patience and positive energy.  Financial Wellness Specialists answer incoming calls, direct calls, greet clients and guests in-person at reception window.

Ø    Strong teamwork skills essential
Ø    Knowledge of computer applications, with proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel
Ø    Excellent oral and written communication skills
Ø    Ability to multi-task 
Ø    Must be able to work efficiently under strict deadlines/timeframes
Ø    Must attain educational certifications, as required
Ø    Position requires attention to detail and basic math/accounting skills
Ø    Prior case management and/or counseling experience helpful, or experience within Agency
Ø    Associate and/or Bachelor Degree preferred
About CCCS Buffalo:

CCCS of Buffalo is a non-profit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and credit repayment assistance to consumers since 1965.  CCCS of Buffalo helps consumers trim expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts.  Counseling is available at our Main Office in West Seneca, in one of our Satellite Offices, by telephone and via Internet.

Please send resumes to:  robert.dunn@cccsbuffalo.org

CCCS of Buffalo is Expanding Service Area!

We are excited to announce that CCCS of Buffalo is expanding beyond our NY borders and we are now registered to serve the following states!
✔️New York
✔️West Virginia
✔️North Carolina

CCCS provides credit counseling services to those living in the above states. This involves a comprehensive and holistic overview of debt repayment options based on an individual’s income and monthly expenses. Nationally certified counselors review the pros and cons of various options, including a Debt Management Plan (DMP). Through a DMP, an individual makes one monthly payment to CCCS who then will send out each individual payment to each of their creditors on a monthly basis. When enrolled in a DMP individuals likely are able to lower their interest rates and become debt free in 5 years or less. CCCS is a nonprofit agency whose counselors are looking out for their clients’ best interest. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with debt, call CCCS! 716-712-2060 or 800-926-9685

We’re On a Mission!

By Noelle Carter

CCCS of Buffalo is on a Mission. We are determined to ensure everyone has access to  financial counseling, from an expert who is looking out for their clients’ best interest, and not the bottom line of a large company’s profits. Unfortunately, for-profit companies have large advertising budgets and prey on consumers who are desperate, and in need of a cure-all for their financial troubles. The messages they convey to draw consumers in inevitably leads to a case of overpromising, and under delivering.

To help spread the word of CCCS of Buffalo’s local presence as a leading financial counseling agency, who has been providing financial counseling for over 50 years, we enlisted help from one of our clients, who best to tell the story of the help we are able to deliver than a member of the WNY community?! Christina struggled with crippling credit card debt until she got help from CCCS of Buffalo. She made that brave phone call, and now, just over 4 years later, Christina is credit card debt free.

Keep a lookout, and an ear out, for Christina on the radio and in online ads. Help us join the battle against companies who are looking to take advantage of consumers who are in a vulnerable financial position, and let them know there is a NONPROFIT agency right in their backyard, ready and willing to help. Services cover anything from credit card debt, housing issues, credit issues, student loan repayment difficulties, homebuyer education and beyond.
If you, or someone you know is looking for financial advice, pick up the phone and call CCCS of Buffalo for honest advice, with no judgment attached.……716-712-2060 or 1-800-926-9685