FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Debt Management Program?

    The Debt Management Program is a debt consolidation (or credit counseling) plan. It’s a comprehensive and straightforward way to get out of debt that, when done right, won’t destroy your credit like debt settlement or bankruptcy can. When you enroll in our program, we negotiate with your creditors to lower interest rates and stop late and over-limit fees so that you can focus on repaying the actual debt.

    Our certified credit counselors will work with you to establish a monthly budget and set up a payment plan with your creditors that fits within that budget. Rather than making payments to several different accounts every month, you make just one to us and we pay your creditors. With credit counseling you end up paying less (because of lowered interest and less fees) and it’s less of a hassle. 

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  • How is your program different from debt settlement? 

    U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer said "When consumers are working to get their financial house in order, the last thing they need is for debt settlement scams to bury them deeper into debt." We and most consumer advocates agree settlement programs are nothing but a scam.

    When you make payments in a debt settlement program, the company holds onto the money rather than paying the creditors. Their goal is to get enough of your money saved up so that creditors are willing to take one lump sum and less than the full amount owed. There are several problems with this: your credit rating plummets during this time because payments aren’t being made, only one creditor is dealt with at a time (so the others get even angrier) and you can even end up getting sued by unhappy creditors. It can easily lead to a financial train wreck, leaving you in worse condition than before you started the process.

    We understand many consumers are upset with their creditors and want to "stick it to them" forcing them to settle for less than owed.  But the facts are: creditors want to get paid and they will file suit against you.  We have spoken with far too many consumers who thought there was an easy way out, only to find themselves in far worse shape after having been lied to by these unscrupulous organizations.  Imagine the stampede the banks would face if they regularly allowed consumers to charge up $10,000 or $100,000 on credit cards and only pay a fraction back!

    With the Debt Management Plan, we pay your creditors on time. If your payments are on time, your credit rating should not suffer and may actually improve. 

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  • How is this program different from filing bankruptcy? 

    Bankruptcy exists for a reason and for many consumers, especially those facing crushing wage garnishments; it very well may be the best solution.  But it is not as easy as the slick attorneys on TV want you to think.  When you file for bankruptcy, it means you are going to court with your creditors, thereby destroying your credit. Filing for bankruptcy makes it far more expensive, if not impossible, to buy a house or car, get a loan and maybe even obtain a job for several years. Bankruptcy can be a complete discharge of debt or a court ordered partial repayment.  Either way you will have to answer the question “Have you ever filed bankruptcy?” with a YES. 

    With credit counseling, you repay your creditors in full over time, usually with reduced interest and fees- terms they agree to.

     

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  • How long will it take to pay off my debts?

    Debt repayment varies greatly from client to client. However, because we are usually able to reduce high interest rates, clients are often able to pay back their debt in an average time frame of five years from the start of their program.  Your credit counselor will provide you with an estimated repayment date and our client services department can provide you with an updated payoff date at any time.

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  • What about the high interest and fees on my cards?

    Once they begin receiving payments through our program, many of your creditors will stop charging late/over limit fees and reduce the interest rate they are charging you. For consumers unable to dig their way out of debt, interest is the real culprit.  By obtaining lower interest rates many of our clients save thousands of dollars and shave years off their debt repayment.

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  • Can't I just do this on my own?

    In order for a creditor to agree to make concessions, they must feel that the client is truly committed to repaying their debt.  They also want to know that a client’s other creditors (their direct competitors) won’t continue receiving normal, higher interest while they are granting lower rates and reduced fees.

    The solution to both of these issues is for the consumer to enroll in a debt management program. Family Credit Management has a wonderful track record of helping people become debt free, so creditors take people more seriously when they are working with us.  Your creditors would much rather work with us than turn the account over to a collection agency.  

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  • Should I get a loan instead of using your debt management services?

    Probably not. Loans are what got you into trouble in the first place. Most unsecured loans have high interest rates, and if you get a home equity loan, you are simply securing your credit cards with your home. That’s very dangerous!  You can't borrow your way out of debt.  You must face the debt you have and get rid of it whether it’s through us or on your own.  Don’t take on any more of that four letter word: D-E-B-T!

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  • When do I pay you?

    You choose a due date with your credit counselor that best fits into your monthly budget. You can even split your payment in half and pay twice a month.  Allowing you to select what your own due date(s) is one great way to help ensure your success on the program and something that many other agencies do not offer. 

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  • Why Family Credit Management?

    Because we’re solid, experienced and passionate about what we do. We’re not some quick get-out-of- debt scheme. In fact, we have been helping consumers deal with debt for nearly 20 years.  We are licensed and able to serve consumers throughout the country.  All client funds are held in dedicated trust accounts and we undergo regular exams from many of the state banking departments. We are longtime members of the Better Business Bureau with an A+ record. 

    As one of the largest Debt Management organizations in the nation, we offer multiple client payment options: pay by text, phone, mail, on our website, or have your payment automatically deducted from your checking or savings account.  We can email your monthly statements and as a client, you will have 24/7 online access to your account information. 

    More important than all of this, our people really care.  When you talk with us you will know right away you are considered a person, not some random number. Our counselors never use scripts, instead taking the time to listen to your specific situation and needs and work to give you real options that are the best fit for you.

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  • What if I am past due on my accounts?

    That is no problem at all. Creditors just want to be paid. Most creditors will bring your accounts current, stop late and over limit fees, stop collection calls and reduce or eliminate interest.  This being said, the more proactive you are the better. Waiting until accounts get further and further behind only makes things harder. 

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  • My accounts are paid on time but I am struggling and my balances aren't going down. Can you still help?

    Yes! High interest rates are the real killer. By getting your creditors to reduce their high interest and fees, more of your monthly payment goes to reducing your debt and you can become debt free years quicker than you would on your own.

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  • Can I still use my credit cards?

    No, and trust us, this is a good thing.  We tell your creditors you have a sincere desire to get out of debt and ask them to help. Since using your credit cards will only make your debt worse, the accounts included in your debt management program are closed until you are debt free.  It may be possible to retain one credit card for emergencies or other appropriate reasons.  This should be discussed with your Credit Counselor.

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  • How soon can you contact my creditors?

    This is based, in part, on the specific creditors you have.  Many want a proposal sent once you have signed our client agreement, others prefer we wait until your first payment is received, to make sure you are serious.  If legal threats are imminent make sure your Credit Counselor is aware as we may need to contact your creditors more quickly than usual.

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  • If my creditors call, should I tell them about my plans to enroll in your program?

    Yes, any creditors who contact you should be advised of your plans. Major creditors are usually supportive.  If your accounts are with more difficult creditors like collection agencies or pay day lenders they will often attempt to get money directly from you at any chance they get.  If this happens, contact our client services department with any details.

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  • Will I continue to get calls and collection letters from my creditors?

    Most creditors will stop collection activity once they receive the first payment from Family Credit.  You will continue to receive monthly statements from most creditors allowing you to see the progress you are making on paying off your debt first-hand.

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  • What are your fees?

    We receive about half of our funding from the credit granting community, however, like many non-profit organizations (hospitals, credit unions, churches), we have many expenses (offices, payroll, computer systems, etc.) and therefore we require financial support from the people we serve as well. Our fees are based on a sliding scale and there is never any charge unless you enroll in our Debt Management Program. Unlike some other credit counseling agencies, we have no hidden charges.

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  • Is this confidential?

    Absolutely. Our respect for your privacy is one of the reasons so many people choose or refer others to Family Credit Management.  We never have and never will sell, rent or give your name or address to any party for any reason. At your request, we can even use unmarked envelopes for mailings to your home.

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  • What if I win the lottery (yea!) or lose my job (boo!) and want to discontinue your program?

    That is no problem. You are only enrolled in our program for as long as you want to be. While we trust you will be pleased and remain on the program until you are debt free, you may terminate the plan at any time for any reason with no penalties whatsoever.  

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  • What happens if I miss a payment?

    Regular monthly payments are critical for continued creditor concessions.  However, we and most of your creditors understand life can happen.  Many creditors will even allow one missed payment during the life of your program.  Some will allow two, yet others do not allow any payments to be missed.  If you find yourself unable to make your entire Debt Management payment, call our client services department immediately.  They will be able to work with you and try to find a solution. 

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  • Can I add an account once my debt management plan has started?

    Yes.  We have many clients who find themselves with a medical or collection debt (either brand new or long forgotten about) rearing its head again.  Email/fax/mail a copy to our client services department and they will add it to your account and discuss any payment increase required.

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  • What happens once I enroll?

    Once your counselor completes your file, our data entry department will set your account up in our system and online.  They will send you a Client ID card, statement, and new client welcome packet full of information to ensure your success and understanding of the program.  Our accounting department will prepare your Auto-Pay, if you are enrolled.  Our client services team will review your file and notify creditors of your enrollment at the appropriate time dependent on their specific guidelines.  

    Many creditors will send you acknowledgement of their acceptance of the proposed plan.  Most creditors will send you monthly statements, and so will we.  Your counselor or client services representative will contact you in about 45-60 days after your first payment to discuss the plan’s progress and answer any questions.  Of course, you are always welcome to call us before this time if any questions arise. 

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  • What kind of creditors will you work with?

    We work with almost any unsecured creditor.  While the vast majority of our clients are dealing with credit cards, we can also include personal loans, collection agencies, pay day loans, medical or veterinary bills, and many more in your debt consolidation plan.  We have even worked with funeral homes, auto mechanics, and clients' family members.

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  • How will this affect my credit?

    This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many components to your credit report and it depends on how high or low your score is today.  What really matters is whether your credit report shows responsible use and repayment of credit and debt, and what steps can you take today to reflect this in the future?

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  • How will this help me re-build my credit?

    Most people are concerned with their credit score and want to know how they can make it higher.  That is a tricky question.  There are over 49 distinct FICO scores alone and the formula for each one is changed frequently. The reason for this is: what may be important to an insurance company is not at all important to a utility company, so they weigh parts unequally.  We believe the key is to manage your debt responsibly and follow a few simple rules: don’t overuse credit, pay your creditors back as agreed, don't apply for unnecessary credit, etc. By doing these things your credit score will properly reflect who you are regardless of which score is used or how they change the formulas for calculating your score in the future.

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  • Can I pay more/extra if possible? 

    Yes! Our objective is to assist you in becoming debt free as soon as you can.  Many of our clients contact us at tax time and want to make an extra payment. Others may increase their payment to reduce the length of time on the program as their finances improve. We strongly encourage this- once you have built a little emergency savings, of course.  Family Credit has never charged any fees for clients to pay extra towards their debt.

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  • How do I know my creditors will agree to this plan?

    We have worked with thousands of creditors and have excellent relationships with every major bank in the nation.  The vast majority of our creditor proposals are accepted. However, when your credit counselor reviews your situation they will have a very strong indication if any of your creditors or accounts appear questionable for inclusion.  Reasons creditors may reject a proposal can range from the account with them being too recently opened to as simple as their requesting a $1 payment increase.  In the unlikely event one of your creditors will not accept the proposal a member of our creditor relations team will work with you to figure out a new course of action.

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  • How will I know where my payments are going?

    At the end of every month, you will receive a detailed statement which summarizes the payments made to each of your creditors either by email or postal service.  You can also view your monthly statement online.  All creditors that currently forward you regular monthly statements should continue to do so after enrollment, allowing you to monitor your progress from their perspective as well.

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  • What happens once I complete the program?

    Once our records indicate you have completed the program, we attempt to verify all balances are paid in full (we recommend you do the same and keep any final creditor statements for your records.)  We will also mail you our Client Graduation Package which provides a passageway to financial independence.  Included in this package is a certificate entitling you to a free telephone conference with any member of our management team (including our President, who is also a college professor of personal finance) to answer your questions and help you create a plan to ensure you remain debt free!

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