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What about Credit Counseling?

New York Debt Consolidation Program Bankruptcy Lawyer

Consumer Credit Counseling Services are Part of the Bankruptcy Process.

Here is something that many other debt relief attorneys will never tell you: If you can find an alternative to filing for bankruptcy, I encourage it. The truth is, bankruptcy will have a negative impact on your credit rating and it's not an inexpensive option. If your income is high enough to pay off your debts outside of bankruptcy, there are often better options, and professional credit counseling services may be the best place to start looking.

Credit counseling services and debt consolidation programs are invaluable.

I am attorney Peter R. Scribner. For more than 20 years, I have been helping individuals and families in Rochester, New York, and throughout upstate New York with all of their bankruptcy and debt relief needs.

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Under the new bankruptcy laws of 2005, credit counseling is required before the courts will discharge your debts. I invite you to read more about debt consolidation programs and credit counseling services on this page. Contact my office for a free phone consultation to discuss your specific debt problems. I am ready to help you start the process of getting the fresh start your family needs.

Avoid bankruptcy if you can, but …

If you can avoid bankruptcy, do so; that is my advice as a bankruptcy attorney. Bankruptcy should be your option when you have no other viable alternative. Legitimate nonprofit consumer credit counseling agencies can be a viable alternative in the right set of circumstances. This is especially the case when you can pay off your debt in five years or less, with an extended repayment period or a downward adjustment in your interest rates.

When I say "legitimate" consumer credit counseling, I am referring to real nonprofit counseling agencies endorsed by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

MY OPINION? IF YOU LIVE IN WESTERN NEW YORK, DO NOT USE THE SERVICES OF ANY COUNSELING AGENCY OTHER THAN ONE OF THESE ON THIS LIST!

  • Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Rochester [link to www.cccsofrochester.org]
  • Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Buffalo [link to www.consumercreditbuffalo.com]
  • Consumer Credit Counseling services of Central New York [link to www.cccscny.org]

These are legitimate, local, and genuinely nonprofit agencies. You can meet with them in person for free and they will review your situation and tell you if they can help. If they can, they will structure a plan where you make one payment to them each month, and they will distribute the money to your creditors. As a general rule, they do not have the authority to discount or reduce the amount of debt you owe, but they often have the authority to adjust repayment periods and sometimes interest rates.

Consumer Credit Counseling is not for everyone. If you are way over your head in debt, they may have to tell you that there is nothing they can do for you. At least you will have heard that from an independent source.

Filing bankruptcy requires that you participate in credit counseling.

Before a person can file bankruptcy, consumer credit counseling from an approved agency is required. There is a fee for obtaining a counseling certificate for bankruptcy purposes, which should be no more than $50. The list of agencies approved by the bankruptcy system is very large and, in addition to the three Western New York agencies listed above, includes many out-of-state agencies where the counseling is done by phone or by Internet. The idea is to have an independent organization determine if the bankruptcy debtor has a viable non-bankruptcy alternative to dealing with his or her debts.

I'm not allowed to give legal advice on my Web site, but…

Don't confuse credit counseling services with debt negotiation rip-offs. Nonprofit credit counseling services are NOT so-called budget planning debt negotiation businesses. Debt negotiation companies are rip-offs. Period.

I cannot offer advice on the Web page, only information. Every person's situation is different. I make one exception to this rule: My advice is STAY AWAY FROM ALL 'DEBT NEGOTIATION' COMPANIES. I explain my reasoning for this advice on my page titled Is Debt Negotiation a Rip-Off?. In a word, YES!

Contact me to discuss your debt relief needs today.