Ask The Experts: Credit Counselor Conundrum

I am a school teacher and I have around $28,000 in debt. The majority of which is credit cards and about 6 grand in medical expenses.

I have spoken with 3 of my creditors and only one has been willing to work with me. I have been getting deeper in debt because I have been paying my minimum payments but that left me with no money to live on. I have an appointment with Consumer Credit Counseling Service and was wondering if you think that is a good idea.

I do not want to file bankruptcy however if these companies don't work with me I don't know what else I can do. My understanding is CCCS calls the creditors and works a deal out. I would appreciate any advice you could share with me. --Susan M.

Thank you for your question. I know it's hard to talk about this but it's a great first step. Going to a credit counselor is a great idea for you, perfect.

Be sure that the company you're meeting with is a member of the NFCC. You can find out by going to their web site and looking for the NFCC logo. If you can't figure it out please let me know what the name of the company is and I'll find out for you. If you enter into a debt management plan with CCCS they will get your rates lowered, late fees forgiven and save your credit.

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The lender will get paid back a great deal of what you owe them and they will reward you for it by not trashing your credit like if you went to a debt settlement company. The plan will likely take you 3-5 years and when you're done your credit reports and scores will be in tip top shape. They can't help with the $6K in medical debt though. That you will need to pay on your own outside of the debt management plan.

Let us know how you do. We love success stories.


John Ulzheimer is a nationally recognized credit expert, president of Consumer Education for and contributor to On The Money. Learn more about him at