911 For Personal Finance Emergencies

If your house catches on fire, you call 911. But who do you call when your personal balance sheet catches on fire?

Perhaps you’ll want to reach for You can start talking to an online counselor for free by going to “Live Chat” in the upper right of their page. Formerly CCCS Atlanta, the country’s oldest non-profit consumer credit counseling and education service has launched a new national identity to help people across the country get their money in shape.

The organization was founded in 1964 by a group of local leaders and businessmen who realized that a newly introduced personal finance tool, the credit card, was getting consumers and customers into trouble. Some of those business owners themselves were involved in the distribution of credit to consumers through credit cards.

The consumer credit counseling field has a lot of bad actors in it, but unlike those guys, most of CredAbility’s services are free, they don’t charge upfront fees, and they don’t make huge, unrealistic promises. What one of their 320 National Federation for Credit Counseling-certified counselors will do, 24/7, via online chat or 800-251-2227, is show you the next concrete action you can take to get your finances stronger.

(However, even experts aren’t infallible. In one news report, a man said his credit score dropped from 680 to 540 after using a CCCS agency for the debt management plans. Two of his creditors hadn’t accepted the reduced interest rate and due to a breakdown in communication between them and CCCS, the man never found this out. After WSBTV inquired, the agency promised to overhaul its procedures to make sure it never happened again and to reach out to executives at the two creditors to try to intervene on the man’s behalf.)

CredAbility’s expertise includes budget and credit counseling, foreclosure prevention, and housing pre-purchase education. The HUD Certified for Housing and Council on Accreditation of Children and Family Services accredited CredAbility charges a small fee when they help you navigate a bankruptcy, and a $25-$50 monthly sliding scale fee when using one of their debt management plans.

“There is always a next best step,” Michelle Jones, CredAbility’s Senior Vice President of Counseling told Consumerist. “Regardless of how bad your situation might be, or what options you might be having to consider, there’s something for you to do that’s ultimately going to help move you forward.”

CredAbility [Official Site]

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