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Also, on the topic of documents, prior to giving the debt management company your paperwork – or, considering the FICO score’s reduced every time your credit report is checked, even your social security number – do try to ascertain some notion of their best guess, however vague, as to the costs expected. Once again, the more legitimate companies shall be far more reticent to provide any sort of estimate without detailed analysis of your accounts, but, if you give a close idea of the amounts of the balances as well as your FICO score from each of the three main bureaus, they should at least be willing to come to some theoretical notion of the potential expense. Much can be learned from the charge requested for the initial consultation with the debt management counselor.
While it shouldn’t be seen as odd for some negligible fee to be attached to the first meeting – expect something around twenty five to seventy five dollars unless the loan balances under contention are truly gargantuan – anything beyond a hundred dollars should be seen as a warning sign. As we continue to remind, you should also make sure to have written documentation detailing precisely what you will receive for this fee, and you should ask whether or not there will be further charges for enrollment or admittance or seemingly superfluous fees. Any debt management company that has several charges for essentially the same task will not stop there, after all. If you fall for these charges, lord only knows what they might try next. Furthermore, while that initial payment may be necessary up front (if they didn’t charge anything, debt management companies would be besieged by skinflints pressing they for advice or information free of charge), additional fees asked by the company should be able to be built into the debt consolidation process so that you would never have to pay one lump sum all at once.
Speaking of the payment terms, they (it should go without saying) depend almost completely upon both the total amount of the credit card balances and the specific debt management approach that you end up selecting. The approach really does matter. Debt settlement rarely allows borrowers to maintain payment schedules lasting longer than five years while home equity loans can continue racking up compound interest for decades and Consumer Credit Counseling, as with so many things, remains eternally malleable to the borrower’s demands. However, you should be able to figure out what the debt management company costs will be each month before agreeing to their program. Obviously, you have to expect that their will be some sort of monthly administrative charge – this is how the companies make their money – but it should not be any higher than ten dollar per month.