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How to Get Free Credit Counseling In Maine

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In a Nutshell

Follow these five steps to get the debt relief you need by getting free credit counseling in Maine.

Written by the Upsolve Team
Updated December 4, 2019

When you want to control your debt and understand the pitfalls of accumulating excessive debt, Maine credit-counseling organizations can offer you proper guidance. That’s why one option you should consider before filing bankruptcy is Maine credit counseling. Credit counseling in Maine provides assistance and education to people who have more debt than they can repay on their own. Maine credit counselors will negotiate concessions from your creditors to eliminate or reduce interest charges and stop both late and over-limit fees. You will receive guidance on several matters, such as consumer credit, budgeting, and debt and money management. 

Maine credit counselors, who usually work at nonprofit organizations that provide consumer credit counseling services, thoroughly review your financial situation by analyzing your credit reports, household budget, and consumer debt to improve your financial situation. While you may approach a Maine credit counselor for suggestions about student loans and budgeting, debt issues are often the primary reason consumers get in touch with a Maine credit counselor. After assessing your financial situation, Maine credit counselors will help you come up with the best way to get out of debt in your specific situation. A Maine credit counseling session usually lasts 45 to 60 minutes.

If you want to know whether credit counseling in Maine is right for you, you have come to the right place. You are probably an ideal candidate for Maine credit counseling services if:

  • You’re having trouble making timely payments on your debts

  • Your unsecured debt (credit card and personal loan) is keeping you up at night

  • You’re paying out 20 percent of your monthly salary toward unsecured debt payments

And keep in mind that you can benefit from credit counseling in Maine even if you are not behind on your debts. But, not all Maine credit counseling organizations are created equal. Although many are accredited nonprofits, other credit counseling agencies are for-profit businesses. They charge high fees and tend to use questionable tactics, like asking clients to pay to become an authorized user on a stranger's credit card. You should steer clear of such shady agencies. 

How to Get Free Credit Counseling in Maine

Follow these five steps to get the debt relief you need by getting free credit counseling in Maine.

Find Maine Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agencies

Maine credit counseling agencies are often nonprofit organizations that give you valuable insight into how you can manage your debts and money. Nonprofit credit counseling agencies in Maine, such as credit unions, often offer free workshops and educational materials. The services of nonprofit counseling agencies are by and large much more affordable and accessible. They also include a greater level of financial education than you would receive from a for-profit organization. In contrast, for-profit counseling companies usually charge a fee for their services. Most nonprofit counseling agencies in Maine are members of either the Financial Counseling Association of America or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Note that both of these groups have strict certification requirements that ensure a standard level of quality and education among counselors. Keep in mind that most initial credit counseling sessions are free.

Information to Research Before Talking to a Maine Credit Counseling Agency

The first and important step to working with a Maine credit counseling agency is finding one that you would like to work with. You should consider the following:

Certification and accreditation: Ensuring the credit counseling agency in Maine you are working with is certified and accredited is an excellent way to verify that it is a reputable agency.

Access: When choosing a Maine credit counseling organization, ask yourself how you would rather receive their services: in person, over the phone, or online. Although many nonprofit credit counseling agencies in Maine are accredited in all 50 states, most only provide in-person credit counseling in select locations.

There are some valuable resources that you can use if you want to learn more about credit counseling in Maine. 

  • Visit the NFCC website

  • Call the NFCC at 1-800-388-2227.

  • Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to look up any Maine credit counseling agency you are considering to determine if they are reputable 

Questions To Ask the Maine Credit Counselor Before Signing Up

One lifeline option for people who are drowning in debt is working with a Maine credit counseling agency. And as with most other significant decisions in life, knowing what questions to ask the credit counselor is critical if you want to get debt relief. You should ask if the credit counseling agency is a nonprofit organization and whether they are affiliated with any credit counseling groups. One way of making sure that you are with a nonprofit is to look for an organization that is affiliated with at least one of the two main nonprofit counseling umbrella groups: the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

How long will your counseling program take to complete? This is another important question that you should ask before signing up. The credit counseling session itself only takes 45 - 60 minutes. If you use a debt management plan, it will take you about 3 - 5 years on average. Although most Maine credit counseling agencies strive to get people out of debt in three to five years, beware of a credit counseling agency in Maine that gives you an exact time period of when all your debt will be repaid before learning about your full situation.

Here are some other questions you should ask:

  • How are your services funded?

  • How often will I hear from you?

  • Will your program affect my credit?

What to Expect During Credit Counseling

You should have the following information handy for your credit counseling session: 

  • Basic contact information

  • Information about all your property and income

  • You will also provide a detailed list of all your expenses, such as rent, groceries and utility expenses

  • Current balances on all your credit cards

To get the complete picture of your finances, your Maine credit counselor will ask to run a credit check. This will allow them to review your report and see if you’ve collections or any other items of note. As this is a “soft” inquiry, it will not impact your credit score. You will receive an in-depth analysis of your expenses and valuable recommendations for reducing them at the end of your session. Your initial credit counseling session can last one hour with a few follow-up sessions, if necessary. 

What Happens After Credit Counseling in Maine

Depending on your specific situation, a Maine credit counselor might suggest a debt consolidation plan or a debt management plan to help you get out of debt faster. A certified credit counselor often takes several approaches to reduce debt.

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Maine Debt Consolidation

Consolidating debt in Maine involves combining multiple debts from your credit cards, high-interest loans, and some other bills into a single monthly payment. Debt consolidation is an immensely useful tool if you owe money to more than one creditor. Favorable payoff terms often include a lower monthly payment, lower interest rate, or both.

Maine Debt Management Plan

Under a Maine debt management plan (DMP), once a Maine credit counselor has reviewed your financial situation, and you both agree that a DMP is the next best step, the Maine credit counseling agency will negotiate with your creditors. Once you and your Maine credit counselor determine your monthly payment, you will start to make monthly deposits with your Maine credit counseling organization, and they will use this money for paying your unsecured debts.

Maine Bankruptcy

In addition to these two options, you can also file for Maine bankruptcy. By filing bankruptcy in Maine, you can get debt relief and receive a fresh start. 

Written By:

The Upsolve Team

Upsolve is fortunate to have a remarkable team of bankruptcy attorneys, as well as finance and consumer rights professionals, as contributing writers to help us keep our content up to date, informative, and helpful to everyone.

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