If you feel that you need help getting out of debt, follow these five steps to get free credit counseling in Rhode Island.
Written by Attorney Karra Kingston.
Updated March 26, 2021
If money problems are keeping you up all night, you are not alone. According to a 2019 study from Bankrate, more than half of U.S. adults lose sleep at night over at least one money-related issue. The study found that credit card debt is the number one reason people are losing sleep. If you fall into this statistic, you’re not alone. If you are anxious about your bills and have missed a few payments, a Rhode Island credit counselor can help fix your financial situation. Credit counseling helps people who are over their head in debt. However, even if you are not behind on your bills, credit counseling may be a useful tool to help you if you see yourself falling behind in the near future. Many Rhode Island credit counseling organizations are nonprofits, which means their services are free and will help educate you on ways to manage your debt. The goal of using a Rhode Island credit counseling organization, is to help you gain financial stability so that you are not struggling each month trying to make ends meet.
A Rhode Island credit counseling organization will look at your specific financial situation and determine what the best solutions are available, to help you get out of debt.
A Rhode Island credit counselor can give you different options to help you get out of debt. One of those options may be to help you enroll in a debt management program. A debt management program is where the credit counseling agency works with your creditors to help you pay your debts at a lower monthly payment. This is good if you have unsecured debt. The Rhode Island credit counseling agency will negotiate a repayment plan (sometimes with a lower interest rate) that all can agree on. Rhode Island credit counselors will offer a first free session to help determine if you are a good candidate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of dishonest companies out there so it’s important to do some research before signing up with a company. Note, the difference between a Rhode Island credit counseling agency and a debt settlement company. Debt settlement companies will negotiate a lower balance with your creditors and lenders for a high fee. Credit counseling in Rhode Island provides financial education and money management tips to help you better manage your finances. Credit counseling agencies will not charge high fees and will not ask you to pay for your first session. Be aware of any company that promises they can get rid of all your debt quickly.
How to Get Free Credit Counseling in Rhode Island
If you feel that you need help getting out of debt, follow these five steps to get free credit counseling in Rhode Island:
Find Rhode Island Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agencies
There are many companies that will offer services to you, don’t settle on the first Rhode Island credit counseling agency you come across without doing some research into how they handle their customers. You should look into working with a reliable nonprofit credit counseling agency in Rhode Island. These credit counseling agencies will offer their services to you for free so you won’t have to go deep into your pockets. Moreover, nonprofit credit counseling agencies are likely to offer qualified counselors who are trained on financial matters therefore, ensuring you’re getting good advice. Make sure that the credit counseling company you choose is accredited by the NFCC (National Foundation for Credit Counseling). To ensure the company is following minimal standards of qualified counselors. The Federal Trade Commission website also has vital information to help you choose a good Rhode Island credit counselor and provides a list of preliminary questions you should jot down to ask the credit counselor before signing up.
Information to Research Before Talking to a Rhode Island Credit Counseling Agency
There are many obvious red flags to look out for before signing up with a Rhode Island credit counseling agency. Look out for some of these:
The company requests a payment before anything has been done or knows anything about your financial situation.
The company charges high fees.
The company promises to get you out of debt quickly.
The Rhode Island credit counselor should be accredited by the state. Check the NFCC website to make sure they are listed there. The NFCC is the largest and oldest nonprofit financial counseling organization in the U.S. The NFCC makes all companies renew their certifications every two years. Any company that is listed there must adhere to strict accreditation standards. Further, taking a look at the Better Business Bureau, to review any consumer complaints against the company, is a good way to ensure the company has a good reputation. You can also take a look at the State Attorney General’s office and the Consumer Protection Bureau. In any situation, use your natural instincts, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Questions To Ask the Rhode Island Credit Counselor Before Signing Up
Have a list of questions ready to ask your Rhode Island credit counseling agency to get a clear idea of the types of services they provide. Some questions to consider are:
Do you charge a fee for your credit counseling services? (remember the initial session should always be free.)
Can you provide references?
How often can I get a status update?
What will happen if the counselor’s recommendation is more than I can afford?
How are your services funded?
Will my crediting session be done online, over the phone or in-person?
What documents do I need to prepare for my credit counseling session?
What to Expect During Credit Counseling
The first Rhode Island credit session will probably last between 40 to 60-minutes. During the initial interview, the counselor will want to get a full picture of your financial situation. Be ready to discuss your income, assets, and debts. To ensure a smooth process, have with you your paystubs, tax returns, and bills. If you are married, bring your spouse to the session so they can get on board with you. Once the counselor understands your financial situation they will come up with a plan to help alleviate your debts. There are many debt repayment strategies they may recommend to you depending on your situation.
What Happens After Credit Counseling In Rhode Island
After your Rhode Island credit counselor has a good sense of your personal finances they may suggest bankruptcy, a debt consolidation plan or a debt management plan, to help you get out of debt faster.
Rhode Island Debt Consolidation
Debt consolidation in Rhode Island can be a great way to manage your finances. Debt consolidation puts all of your high-interest debts, into a single, low-interest payment.
Rhode Island Debt Management Plan
A Debt Management Program, also known as a DMP can help you pay down your debts. A Rhode Island credit counseling organization will make your monthly payment to your creditors. This means that you will no longer deal directly with your creditors. The only downside to this is that if you lose your job your debt management plan can fail.
Rhode Island Bankruptcy
A great way to help eliminate all of your debt is to file a Rhode Island bankruptcy. By filing bankruptcy in Rhode Island, you can get a fresh start. Filing bankruptcy does not mean you will lose all of your property or have to give up your car or home. You can speak with a Rhode Island bankruptcy lawyer or use Upsolve’s tools to help you file bankruptcy for free.