The NFCC’s Member Agencies assist more than three million people each year with 12,500 consumers receiving counseling to resolve their financial distress on an average day.
Whether the financial concern is related to building a budget, debt repayment, buying their first home, or saving the one they’re in, each day thousands of consumers recognize that the NFCC Agencies represent the gold standard in credit counseling, and reach out to them for help. Many continue to struggle with deep financial distress. It is important that they realize they are not alone, and that substantive help is available either free of charge or at low cost.
The average consumer who came to an NFCC Member Agency for counseling in 2011 was between 35 and 54 years of age, had a household income of $34,809, and owed $26,878 in unsecured debt spread across five credit cards, resulting in an unsecured debt to income ratio of 77 percent.
Through the Debt Management Plan (DMP), one of the many resolution tools available to the counselors, $2.27 billion was returned to creditors by NFCC Agencies on behalf of consumers last year. This significant amount of money reflects how often a skilled counselor can find relief for those who think their situation is beyond repair.
Additionally, NFCC Members are Executive Office of the United States Trustee (EOUST) -approved providers of the mandated bankruptcy pre-filing counseling and per-discharge education. Not surprisingly, the number one reason consumers gave for seeking bankruptcy was reduced income. However, poor money management skills was the reason given second most often, reflecting the continued need for financial education.
Whether struggling with loss of income, an underwater mortgage, or seemingly insurmountable debt, consumers owe it to themselves to seek help from a trained and certified credit counselor. As a convenience to consumers, NFCC Agencies offer counseling in-person, by phone, or online. All things considered, there is little reason to continue drowning in financial distress when help is so readily available.
Gail Cunningham is Vice President of Membership & Public Relations with the NFCC.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.