Financial Debt Counseling Shouldn't Be Shameful

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Although a recent study released by the Urban Institute reveals that 35% of Americans have accounts in collections, most consumers are not reaching out for help.

"Consumers may be hesitant to reach out for help due to misconceptions about financial counseling. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) member agencies assisted more than 1.5 million people last year with their financial concerns, but that is a only a fraction of the 77 million Americans who have debt in collections, said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.

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"It is a shame that so many are struggling financially when help is easily accessible and affordable," she said. "Don't delay seeking help."

Consumers admitted to several misconceptions such as believing that financial counseling costs too much, according to the 2014 NFCC Financial Literacy Survey. Financial counseling rarely costs most consumers a dime - the truth is that counseling through an NFCC member agency is either free or low cost. One of the requirements for agency membership in the NFCC is that no service will be denied based on an inability to pay.

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"Cost should never be a barrier to finding the financial help needed," Cunningham said. "To be automatically connected to the agency closest to you, dial (800) 388-2227 or find an agency online at www.NFCC.org."

While many people are loath to discuss their debt and find it embarrassing, it is highly likely that the trained and certified financial professional you visit with has encountered a financial problem similar to yours and is skilled at resolving comparable issues, she said.

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Other consumers believe falsely that financial counseling agencies only offer advice, but are devoid of real solutions.