What is CCCS and how can it help you?

Female credit counselor helping a couple with their finances

If you’re in debt and struggling to get out, you may have heard of CCCS. Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS) offer assistance with budgeting, debt management plans, and financial education. A legitimate CCCS agency is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and receives accreditation through the Council on Accreditation. Each counselor must be certified and they are trained to work with creditors and lenders to find repayment options that are acceptable for both parties.

All CCCS agencies are registered as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and retain membership in the Better Business Bureau. Some agencies are also HUD-approved and assist with housing issues, including mortgage delinquency (foreclosure counseling). Many agencies offer the educational courses and counseling session that are required to complete a personal bankruptcy, cash out the equity in your home through a reverse mortgage, or access certain first-time homebuyer loan programs.

So, what does all this mean for you?

For starters, it means that if you’re in serious financial trouble and in need of advice, education, or assistance with debt repayment, a CCCS agent is qualified and certified to help you. That brings you peace of mind from the start.

CCCS agents can help you learn how to rebuild and reestablish your credit by first reviewing your spending and income and helping you to create a budget that fits your goals. Then, if appropriate, they can help you create a debt management plan (DMP) to tackle your unsecured credit card debts. It’s by no means a quick-fix, but if you’re struggling with lingering debts, a DMP could be the best option to get you on the right path.

Here’s how it works:

  • Your counselor will first assess your current financial situation to determine how best to approach your issues with debt.
  • If you are a good fit for a DMP, the CCCS agency will help you restructure your budget and work with your creditors to create a repayment plan that you can afford and that repays your credit card debts in full in less than five years.
  • They will then provide educational materials and resources that will help you learn how to avoid repeating past mistakes and reach your big picture financial goals.

Trained and certified credit counselors can also help you find ways to cut back on your expenses and show you how to manage your money better.

If you decide that CCCS is the right option for you, set up an appointment with a counselor for a consultation. Most consumer credit counseling agencies offer in-person appointments through local offices, while larger, national organizations may also offer 24/7 phone appointments or even online counseling options. Expect most counseling programs to take an hour or more for a full review of your situation and available options.

Available nonprofit, consumer services offered by Money Management International

Emilie writes about overcoming debt, while balancing trying to eat healthy, stay fit, and have a little fun along the way. You can find more of her work at BurkeDoes.com.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.