How to Get Free Credit Counseling in West Virginia

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Written by the Upsolve Team.  
Updated December 11, 2019

Summary

Finding free non-profit credit counseling in West Virginia is as easy as five simple steps: 1. find a non-profit West Virginia credit counseling agency you can trust; 2. do some research on the West Virginia credit counseling organization you are considering; 3. prepare some questions for your first meeting; 4. know what to expect at your first meeting; and 5. know what happens next.

Known as The Mountain State, residents of West Virginia live and work in the shadow of the rugged Appalachian Mountains. But despite 17.8% of its residents living at or below the poverty level (20% higher than the national average) West Virginia only ranks 35th in per capita bankruptcy filings in the nation. A statistic that indicates many West Virginians are looking for alternatives to bankruptcy for dealing with their financial problems and eventually getting out of debt. One of these alternatives is non-profit credit counseling in West Virginia.

If you have bills you can’t pay and are afraid to call your creditors and let them know, then West Virginia credit counseling is probably right for you. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your day to day expenses and unable to pay your bills as they come due, West Virginia credit counseling is also probably right for you. Ultimately, if you could simply use some no-strings-attached help in getting your personal finances under control, then no-cost West Virginia credit counseling is available and right for you.

A West Virginia credit counseling session, also known as debt counseling, is an individualized financial counseling session between you and a trained, certified credit counselor. The session can be conducted in-person, online or over-the-phone. The purpose of the session is to help you get control of your bills and come up with a long term plan to become debt-free. Using the information you share with them, your West Virginia credit counselor will work with you to identify the debts and bills you can no longer afford to pay, put together a budget to show what you can afford to pay and recommend a debt relief program to reconcile your bills with your budget. All of this is accomplished using a mix of information and educational material you can take with you after the session free of charge. 

However, West Virginia credit counseling is not a silver bullet and is not the answer to every financial crisis. If you are dealing with a credit counseling agency that is making promises to you that seem too good to be true, that is a red flag that you may not be dealing with a reputable credit counseling agency.

How to Get Free Credit Counseling in West Virginia

Finding free non-profit credit counseling in West Virginia is as easy as five simple steps: 1. find a non-profit West Virginia credit counseling agency you can trust; 2. do some research on the West Virginia credit counseling organization you are considering; 3. prepare some questions for your first meeting; 4. know what to expect at your first meeting; and 5. know what happens next.


Find a West Virginia Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agency

Not all West Virginia credit counseling agencies are non-profit organizations. Many for-profit companies operate as West Virginia credit counseling agencies. But unlike non-profit West Virginia credit counseling agencies, a for-profit company does not have to offer any of their services for free. This includes the initial credit counseling session, which you should never pay for. In addition, many for-profit West Virginia credit counseling companies rely on up-front fees, membership fees, large set-up fees, and monthly fees to make a profit. As a result, to ensure you are dealing with a West Virginia credit counseling agency that has your best interest at heart, you should always seek out an accredited non-profit West Virginia credit counseling agency. Certified and accredited non-profit West Virginia credit counseling agencies have pledged to abide by the strict certification and accreditation standards set by such organizations as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) or the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA). If you can’t find a certified and accredited West Virginia credit counseling agency locally, there are several national non-profit credit counseling agencies such as Money Management International,CESI or GreenPath that offer their credit counseling services throughout the United States.

Information to Research Before Talking to a West Virginia Credit Counseling Agency

Once you have located a West Virginia credit counseling agency you would like to meet with, you can do some basic research to see what kind of track record they have dealing with others in your situation. Assuming you have already verified that the West Virginia credit counseling agency you plan to meet with is accredited, check to see if any complaints have been filed against them with the West Virginia Attorney General’s consumer protection agency. You can also check to see if any lawsuits or alerts have been filed against them by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

If you are dealing with a for-profit West Virginia credit counseling company, in addition to the above, you can also check their rating and check for complaints filed against them with the Better Business Bureau. If you feel you have already been taken advantage of by a West Virginia credit counseling agency, in addition to filing a complaint with the organizations listed above, you can also file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB has recovered over $13.2 billion for consumers in enforcement actions.

Questions to Ask the West Virginia Credit Counselor Before Signing Up

No matter what West Virginia credit counseling agency you choose to meet with, you will probably have a lot of questions about how West Virginia credit counseling works and whether it’s worth your time to take part in it. These questions are common and some of the questions you might have and the types of answers you should expect to receive if you are dealing with a reputable credit counseling agency, are included below.

  •  Is there any cost for credit counseling? You should never pay for an initial credit counseling session. And while federal law does not strictly prohibit a consumer credit counseling agency charging you for credit counseling, FTC regulations do prohibit a credit counseling service from charging a fee before it has actually settled or reduced a consumer’s debt. In addition, most national non-profit accrediting organizations do not allow their members to charge consumers any fee for initial credit counseling.

  •  Is there a cost to start a debt relief program? Non-profit credit counseling organizations are allowed to charge a modest set-up fee for putting your debt repayment plan into action. Depending on the type of debt relief plan you go with they may also charge a monthly maintenance fee of some type to administer the program. However, some West Virginia non-profit organizations have agreements with certain credit card companies who will pay these fees on your behalf if you cannot afford it.

  • Finally, get the specifics on your credit counseling session like where it will take place, how long it will last and how the session will be conducted? Most West Virginia credit counseling sessions only take 30 minutes to one hour. They can be conducted in-person, over-the-phone or online.

What to Expect Dduring Credit Counseling

Your initial credit counseling session is an opportunity to get a lot of things off your chest. In particular, you and your West Virginia credit counselor will discuss the difficulties you are currently experiencing in managing your money and paying your bills as well as your individual financial goals. The counseling session will largely focus on credit card debt in particular, but your West Virginia credit counselor will also want to know about student loan debt, payday loans and medical bills you have. At some point during the session, your West Virginia credit counselor may also offer to pull a copy of your credit report to review and explain your credit score with you. Finally, you will be given information and recommendations on various debt relief programs like debt consolidation, debt management programs and possibly bankruptcy.

You do not need to bring any specific documents with you to attend an initial West Virginia credit counseling session. But you should at least write down some basic information to share with your West Virginia credit counselor like how much you spend every month on necessities, how much you pay out every month on credit cards or other unsecured debts, how much you earn and how often you get paid. Later, if you decide to implement any of the recommendations you are given in the session you will need the actual documents to get started.

What Happens After Credit Counseling in West Virginia

For some people, just taking part in an initial West Virginia credit counseling session and coming up with a monthly budget is enough financial education to help them start paying their bills on time again. For most people, however, the initial credit counseling session is a good first step. What comes next is choosing a form of debt relief that is best for you. Some of the options your counselor may  recommend are discussed below.

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West Virginia Debt Consolidation

West Virginia Debt consolidation involves combining all of your unsecured debts into one obligation. You then pay off the combined debt by making one single payment every month. Debt consolidation works by both paying off all your old debt and combining it into the new loan. This new loan typically also carries a lower interest rate which results in you making a smaller monthly payment. You can also consolidate your debts without taking out a new loan by closing the accounts and including them in a debt management plan.

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West Virginia Debt Management Plan 

A West Virginia Debt Management Plan is another form of debt consolidation. Debt management plans allow you to pay on all your unsecured debt with a single monthly payment. The debt management plan usually also comes with a lower interest rate and lower payment on the consolidated debt. As well as eliminating over-the-limit and late fees. A debt management plan also relieves you of having to remember to pay several different creditors every month and allows your West Virginia credit counseling agency to deal with the creditors who agree to the debt management plan on your behalf.

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West Virginia Bankruptcy

We mentioned earlier that West Virginia credit counseling is not a silver bullet that solves everyone’s financial problems. Sometimes when financial problems are the result of more than just poor money management or the failure to stick to a budget, credit counseling and debt consolidation are not enough. In these instances, a West Virginia Bankruptcy might be your best option. In most instances, your non-profit credit counseling agency can also provide you with free bankruptcy counseling.

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The Upsolve Team
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