Consumer credit counseling agencies act as an intermediary between you and your creditors in order to establish a set monthly payment plan that your creditors agree to accept, and that you can afford.

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Credit Counseling offers one of the most common and legitimate ways to get your credit card bills reduced and under control with a single consolidated monthly payment.

There are benefits and drawbacks to working with a credit counseling service.

If you're unable to pay your creditors, filing for bankruptcy can help you get a fresh start by liquidating your assets to pay off your debts or create a payment plan.

Yet since bankruptcy has far-reaching and long-lasting results, you should first consider other debt management options.

Sometimes what appears to be debt consolidation isn't.

For example, a debt management program (DMP) through a credit counseling agency allows you to make one monthly payment to the counseling agency, and in turn, the agency pays all of your participating creditors.The counseling agency will have some set criteria they use that will identify which of your accounts can be accepted into the debt management (DMP) plans they offer.The credit counselor uses their automated system to contact the credit card companies you owe, putting forward a repayment plan.Bankruptcy information stays on a credit report for 10 years and can make it difficult to get credit, buy a home, get life insurance, or sometimes get a job.As federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy laws, cases must be filed in federal bankruptcy court.In addition, you'll have a fixed payment schedule that requires you to pay back the debt in 2 - 5 years (depending on the terms of the loan).