Recently passed by Congress, Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 will require people who are filing for bankruptcy to first undergo mandatory credit counseling.
This is probably not a bad idea; after all, many people with problem debt could probably benefit from credit counseling. A good credit counselor can assist clients with problem debts in establishing a repayment schedule, creating a personal budget, and learning how to avoid debt and credit problems in future.
The problem is that with estimated one and a half million additional people seeking credit counseling each year, there will undoubtedly be more credit "counselors" entering market, and many of them are only interested in reaping huge profits at expense of their clients. There are already a number of credit counseling firms working in marketplace that advertise themselves as "nonprofit", when they actually are closely tied to for-profit debt consolidation firms. These agencies will strongly encourage their clients to consolidate debt through their partner company, and result may be a long-term loan for client that doesn't help them at all, but reaps huge profits for consolidation firm. How can someone who is genuinely seeking legitimate, helpful credit counseling choose a counseling agency wisely?
*Counselors should listen. If they start pitching a solution to you during first fifteen minutes you are there, you should be suspicious. A credit counselor should be gathering information about you in order to determine how best to help you. They can’t possibly know how to help if they don’t understand your problem. Unless, of course, they don’t care about your problem and only want to sell generic “solutions.”