Some tips on finding a legitimate credit counselor:
1. Make sure the agency is registered to do business in Utah. Registered businesses are bonded, and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection has conducted some financial audits. Visit www.consumerprotection.utah.gov/education/registered_credit_service_orgs.pdf for a list.
2. Ask these questions:
• What services do you offer? A wide range is good.
• Will you help me develop a plan to avoid future problems?
• What are your fees? The National Foundation for Credit Counseling advises consumers to be wary of voluntary fees. Set-up fees should be reasonable, around $50 or less, and monthly fees should be in the $25 range.
• What if I can't afford to pay your fees?
• What qualifications do your counselors have? Are they accredited or certified by an outside organization? What training do they receive?
• How will you keep my information confidential and secure?
• How are your employees paid? Are they paid more if I sign up for certain services, pay a fee or make a contribution to your organization? If so, be wary.
Sources: Federal Trade Commission, Utah Division of Consumer Protection, National Foundation for Credit Counseling