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How to Get Free Credit Counseling in Oklahoma

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In a Nutshell

There are steps that you can take to help you find a reputable nonprofit credit counseling service in Oklahoma including knowing where to start and how to narrow down your options with some online research. We will also help you feel confident in your choice by suggesting questions to ask before you attend your appointment with an Oklahoma credit counselor and what to expect during and after the meeting. 

Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice
Updated November 30, 2019

When you feel like you’re in over your head with your bills it can be hard to know where to turn for help. It may help to know that you’re not alone. People all over the United States are experiencing financial problems these days, and Oklahoma is no exception. With a poverty rate higher than the national average, many Oklahomans are struggling to keep afloat, often too busy to even look for solutions for debt relief. That’s when credit counseling might be able to help. Credit counseling gives you a chance to meet with a financial counselor one-on-one to go over your personal finances and come up with a personalized plan to help get you back on track toward your financial goals. While this can be a good place to start, it’s important to know that not all companies offering debt counseling will have your best interests at heart. If a company offers quick solutions to get you debt-free and pushes debt settlement as their primary (or only) solution, chances are that it is a for-profit company looking out for their bottom line rather than your financial health. Their services can be costly and are rarely effective. It’s entirely possible that you could end up in worse financial circumstances than when you started. Instead, you should look for an Oklahoma credit counseling program that is run by a nonprofit agency and offers a wide range of services, such as debt counseling, money management, and financial education. Credit counselors from a reputable nonprofit credit counseling agency in Oklahoma will offer the initial meeting at no cost and work with you to determine your best next steps, whether that is continuing to work with the Oklahoma credit counseling service or pursuing other remedies. In this article, we will explore more details about credit counseling to help you decide if it is something you want to explore. If so, we’ll also help you learn how to identify a reputable nonprofit Oklahoma credit counseling agency and what to expect from your meeting and after. 

How to Get Free Credit Counseling in Oklahoma

There are steps that you can take to help you find a reputable nonprofit credit counseling service in Oklahoma including knowing where to start and how to narrow down your options with some online research. We will also help you feel confident in your choice by suggesting questions to ask before you attend your appointment with an Oklahoma credit counselor and what to expect during and after the meeting. 

Find Oklahoma Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agencies

Your first step is to start with searching for credit counselors at nonprofit agencies in Oklahoma. Keep in mind that simply being designated as a nonprofit is not enough by itself to determine if an Oklahoma credit counseling organization is a good fit but it’s an excellent starting point. You can continue to narrow down the options by looking to see if the Oklahoma credit counseling organization offers a wide range of services. Any reputable nonprofit will be happy to send you free informational or educational materials. If there is a cost associated with any advance materials or you are asked to disclose any personal information that should be a big red flag. The Oklahoma credit counseling agency’s website should also tell you if their financial credit counselors are certified. Certified credit counselors are generally trained in three areas: consumer credit, money and debt management and budgeting. You can confirm that the initial meeting is free and if that is not the case you can cross that option off your list. Depending on your preferences you can also look to see how the services are offered. There are a lot of national and local organizations that offer online or over the phone appointments, but if you prefer to meet in person that will also narrow down your options. 

Information to Research Before Talking to an Oklahoma Credit Counseling Agency

There are several things that you can verify through some online research on Oklahoma credit counseling programs. First, you can check to see if the organization has been certified by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (“NFCC”) which has rigorous accreditation standards. Next, it is also a good idea to check the Oklahoma consumer protection agency, which you can find housed under the Oklahoma attorney general in their consumer protection unit. There you can check if there have been any complaints filed against any Oklahoma credit counseling programs on your list or any warnings about ongoing scams for people seeking assistance. You may also want to check your list against the Better Business Bureau, again to look for any complaints filed but also to see how various credit counseling organizations rate. 

Questions to Ask the Oklahoma Credit Counselor Before Signing Up

After you have completed your online research you can and should take the opportunity to make a few phone calls to find out a little more about the Oklahoma credit counseling organizations on your narrowed list before setting up your initial meeting. Most often people want to know more about costs. You can verify that the initial session is free, but beyond that, there could be costs involved, such as setup costs or monthly fees, based on the next steps you choose to take. Asking about the cost structure in advance can be helpful as you are evaluating your options, including asking if the agency has any assistance if someone is unable to afford their fees. It is also valid to ask how the credit counselors are compensated. If they receive bonuses or incentives for signing people up that is cause for concern. You may also want to know some particulars about the session, such as how long it lasts and what documents and information you should bring along to make it as effective as possible. 

What to Expect During Credit Counseling?

You can expect to meet with your Oklahoma credit counselor one-on-one for approximately a half-hour to an hour. The credit certified credit counselor should be trained in consumer credit counseling, money and debt management, and budgeting. They will review any documents you brought in regarding your income and expenses, and, with your permission, show you how to access a free credit report and credit score to get a more complete picture of your situation. They’ll also speak with you about your financial goals. From this in-depth review, they will work with you to create a personalized plan and recommend your best next steps. They may suggest additional sessions or particular areas of financial education or workshops for you. Usually, the recommendation for the next steps will be debt consolidation, a debt management plan, or bankruptcy counseling, whichever makes the most sense for your circumstances. 

What Happens After Credit Counseling in Oklahoma?

After you complete your credit counseling session in Oklahoma you can start to move forward with your recommended next steps. We will examine in more detail below what the likely recommendations will involve by discussing debt consolidation, debt management plan, and bankruptcy. 

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Oklahoma Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation works to pay off your existing debts (usually mostly credit card debts with high-interest rates) by taking on a new loan at a lower interest rate to consolidate your monthly payments to (ideally) just one. This is generally only possible if you have a good credit score to qualify for a lower interest loan and are otherwise responsible with money. Consolidation can be very effective with the existing debt, but it does nothing to prevent taking on new debt. Further, the payment may be large and if you miss it you can incur late fees and potentially default the agreement. 

Oklahoma Debt Management Plan

A debt management plan, by contrast, involves a monthly payment plan created by you and your Oklahoma credit counselor. Your credit counselor can negotiate on your behalf with your creditors to potentially lower your interest rates and relax late fees. At the same time, they will work with you to create a reasonable budget that can support the monthly payment amount (which could include your credit card bills, medical bills, and student loans) and take care of making the payment to your creditors for you. This may include fees for setup and/or monthly fees, however, if you are late or miss a payment the entire agreement may be void. 

Oklahoma Bankruptcy

If you can’t afford either of the other remedies or even just maintain your other monthly expenses, then bankruptcy may be the most appropriate debt relief alternative for you. Bankruptcy is a legal process that allows people or companies to walk away from some (or all) of their debts rather than focus on debt repayment. You can learn more about bankruptcy in Oklahoma through Upsolve, a nonprofit organization that assists people in these situations at no cost. You can try the Upsolve screener to see if you qualify for this service. 

Written By:

Attorney Eva Bacevice


Eva G. Bacevice graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 2001. She practiced law for close to a decade in the area of consumer bankruptcy. She now works in higher education as an Academic Advisor for undergraduate students at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business,... read more about Attorney Eva Bacevice

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