How to Get Free Credit Counseling in Pennsylvania

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Written by Karra Kingston, Esq.  
Updated November 30, 2019

Summary

If your goal is to be debt-free and you’re in search of credit counseling in Pennsylvania you have come to the right place.

If you are falling behind on your medical bills, student loans, credit cards, and personal loans, it may seem impossible to catch up. You may be able to get help by participating in a Pennsylvania credit counseling session to help you get out of the financial rut you’re in. Credit counseling services in Pennsylvania, help people manage their debts and finances by providing a plan to help tackle their specific issues. For people who need help managing their debt, a Pennsylvania credit counseling session is a free resource that can help them. A certified credit counselor will evaluate your financial situation by looking at your debt and finances and come up with a plan to help you. A credit counseling session typically consists of an online or in-person session with a certified credit counselor that lasts anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes. The counselor will review your finances and come up with a plan to help you budget so that you can get out of debt. To get a full picture of your financial situation the counselor will review your financial documents such as your income, budget, and consumer credit report. After a thorough review of all of your financials, the counselor will recommend if a debt management plan (a DMP), debt consolidation or bankruptcy is the right option for you. All of these options are ways to help you improve your financial situation.

Are you wondering whether credit counseling in Pennsylvania is right for you? Educating yourself about your finances whether you are behind on your bills or not, and understanding the different financial options you have, can help you lead a better economic life. A Pennsylvania credit counseling session is a great free resource to help you. Do not confuse “credit counseling” services  with “debt settlement” companies that charge high fees to negotiate your debts. Credit Counseling in Pennsylvania helps you come up with a budgeting plan to manage your debt and money. On the other hand, debt settlement companies will charge high fees to negotiate with your creditors. If you use an accredited credit counseling agency, your chances of finding a bad Pennsylvania credit counselor is usually slim. 

How to Get Free Credit Counseling in Pennsylvania?

If your goal is to be debt-free and you’re in search of credit counseling in Pennsylvania you have come to the right place. Follow the five steps below to get started: 


Find Pennsylvania Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agencies

Being in debt can be stressful but making sure that you find a good credit counseling organization is essential to helping you get out of debt. You should know the difference between nonprofit and for-profit credit counseling organizations. Nonprofit credit counseling agencies don’t charge a fee for the initial session while a for-profit may. To start,carefully, choose a Pennsylvania credit counselor by doing some research beforehand. There are many untrustworthy companies that claim to help people get out of debt. If you notice any red flags, choose a different company. Any reputable credit counseling agency will send you free information if you ask. If any company tries to charge you for an initial session, go somewhere else. Credit counseling agencies do not usually charge for the initial session. You can start off on a good foot by making sure that the credit counseling company you choose is accredited by the NFCC (National Foundation for Credit Counseling). This will ensure that the company you are dealing with is reputable. You should also check the Federal Trade Commission website which provides information to help you choose a qualified Pennsylvania credit counselor to ensure  you are receiving good advice. 

Information to Research Before Talking to a Pennsylvania Credit Counseling Agency

If you want to learn more about accredited counseling services, visit the  National Foundation for Credit Counseling. There you will find a list of  Pennsylvania credit counselors that can help you get out of debt. Make sure to vet the credit counseling agency you are thinking of choosing carefully to ensure that they are qualified and meet your specific needs. One way of finding out if there are any complaints against the company you want to hire is by checking with your state's attorney general’s office. Your state’s attorney general’s office will keep a record of all businesses that are licensed in the state to do business. Moreover, they will keep a file of any complaints filed against the credit counseling organization. The Better Business Bureau (BBB)  is also another helpful place to look up any Pennsylvania credit counseling agency you may use to determine if people who have used them in the past have been satisfied. 

Questions to Ask the Pennsylvania Credit Counselor Before Signing Up

It’s always good to be cautious before you move ahead with a Pennsylvania credit counselor. Remember, you are hiring this counselor to work for you so, have a list of questions ready to ask your credit counselor before you hire them to ensure they are experienced. Asking all of the right questions upfront can save you a lot of headaches later. Some questions to ask your Pennsylvania credit counselor are: 

  • How much will this cost? 

  • How long have you been doing business in Pennsylvania?

  • How do you get paid? 

  • How will my privacy be protected?

  • How long will this process take?

  • Are there any hidden fees?

  • What kind of qualifications do you have?

  • How is the amount of my payment determined?

  • How often will I get a status update?

  • How are your services funded? 

  • What documents will I need to get started?

Be skeptical of any company that promises to get rid of all of your debt quickly and requests large fees upfront. You should also find out if your  Pennsylvania credit counselor will be working with you over the phone,  online, or in person.

What to Expect During Credit Counseling?

Pennsylvania credit counselors will look through your specific financial situation by going through your debt, income and expenses, and your property. Don’t feel overwhelmed about getting your financial documents together if you have any questions you can always ask your Pennsylvania credit counselor for help. You will also need to provide them with your basic information so that they can pull a credit report, and review your credit score with you. Have your financial documents such as you’re: income, monthly expenses, debt, and tax returns. If you’re married, your spouse does not have to be present for your counseling session; however, it may be best to have them there so you can work together to better your financial situation. Once they get a complete picture of what your finances look like, the credit counselor will provide you with some recommendations to help your financial needs. Some of these recommendations may include debt management plans, budgeting, and bankruptcy. Your initial credit counseling session will probably last about an hour.

What Happens After Credit Counseling in Pennsylvania?

After evaluating your financial situation your Pennsylvania credit counselor will recommend a course of action to tackle your debt. Your counselor may recommend more than one option to you in case one fails. Take note that some of these courses of action may come with fees. Below are some of the most common debt relief solutions that a credit counselor may recommend. 

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Pennsylvania Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation can lower your interest rate and combines all of your debts into one monthly payment plan. This can help you pay your debts off by making your monthly payments easier. 

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Pennsylvania Debt Management Plan

A debt management plan in Pennsylvania is a great way to help you if you can’t afford to make your monthly payments on your unsecured debt. In a debt management plan, you make one affordable payment to the credit counseling agency each month until your debt is paid off. This will usually come with a lower interest rate. The Pennsylvania credit counseling agency then pays your creditors directly. However, the downside to a debt management plan is that if you take on more credit card debt or lose income in the future, you may end up back in the same position. 

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Pennsylvania Bankruptcy

If you simply can’t afford to make payments on any of your bills, then a Pennsylvania bankruptcy can help you eliminate your debt. By filing bankruptcy in Pennsylvania, you can legally have your debt erased and start over. Bankruptcy counseling can be a great way to help you get back on your feet. 

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