Nonprofit credit counselors are the good guys in the debt relief industry, which is otherwise full to bursting with lies, scams and sketchy players.
That said, credit counselors need to acknowledge that their signature offering—the debt management plan—doesn’t work for everyone.
Debt management plans are touted as an alternative to bankruptcy and an affordable way to pay back credit card debt. Borrowers make payments to the counseling agency, which then pays the creditors. Thanks to standing agreements that counselors have with credit card companies, the plans typically reduce the interest rates, fees and payments that borrowers are expected to make. Full repayment of the debt often takes four to five years.
If borrowers make all the payments and repay the principal completely, debt management plans have much less impact on their credit scores than other types of debt relief.
Francine Bostick, a Manhattan, Kan., woman who paid off more than $120,000 in credit card debt in 2012, says she emerged with credit scores good enough to buy her first-ever new car.