What is it that you do? How can you help me?/em>
We set up an appointment for you to meet with one of our certified counsellors, who will review your financial situation and provide you with a budget planner along with information and recommendations to help address any of your concerns.
Is there a fee for your service?
There is a $25 fee for the initial counselling session which covers the cost of any follow-up meetings that take place within a 90 day period. If you choose to enrol in a Debt Management Program a monthly administration fee would apply.
How can you help with debt repayment? Do you loan money?
We offer a Debt Management Program for consumers having difficulty meeting their monthly payment obligations and require assistance negotiating reduced payment and interest terms. We contact creditors on their behalf and propose a payment schedule based on the client’s ability to pay. Creditors are also asked to stop, or reduce interest, for the duration of the program. Once an agreement has been made with each creditor, they will be asked to contact us instead of the client with any questions or concerns until the debts are fully paid. This program doesn’t involve loaning money. The client will be required to make one monthly deposit that we can disburse to each creditor on their behalf.
What qualifications do your counsellors have? Where do they obtain their certification?
Our counsellors take part in a six to eight week training program within our organization to ensure they are fully qualified to provide the services we offer. In addition, they obtain various certificates through courses related to our services including the Insolvency Counsellors Qualification Course and the Association for Financial Counselling, Planning and Education. Many of our counsellors come from a financial background which only further enhances their qualifications. Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada, Inc. is also a member of Credit Counselling Canada and is a fully accredited agency.
Does your organization operate under the new Privacy Legislation Laws?\
Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada adheres to the “Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act” as set out in federal legislation. We respect the privacy of our clients and will not release any information without the client’s consent.
Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau?
Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada, Inc. is a member of the Better Business Bureau of the Maritime Provinces, Inc. and abides by their code of ethics.
When I apply for a credit card, am I giving the bank or credit card company permission to check my credit history?
Yes. When you apply for a credit card, the card issuer checks your credit history with one or more credit reporting agencies (also known as credit bureaus). In Canada, your credit history is recorded by two major credit bureaus; Equifax and Trans Union.
Will paying my credit card bill just a couple of days after the due date affect my credit rating?
Whether your credit card bill payments are late by a couple of days or several weeks, any payments made after your due date may have an impact on your credit rating.
When does the interest on my credit card start accumulating if I use it for cash advances?
Banks and credit card companies treat cash advances differently than purchases made with a credit card. When you take a cash advance, you are charged interest from the day you take it until the day it is paid in full.
Am I eligible for your services?
We serve anyone who needs advice on how to manage money, as well as reduce or eliminate debts. There are no limits on age, gender, race, colour, creed, or income level. However clients must be the age of majority.
Will my creditors continue to contact me after going on a DMP?
Once the creditors are contacted in writing by Credit Counselling Services, they will generally contact us for any details or information they may need about your file. If you continue to receive phone calls refer them back to us.
How will I know that my payments are being applied to my accounts?
You can contact your creditors directly to confirm that payments are being applied to your accounts. You will also have access to your DMP online which will show your payment history and current balances. If you don’t have access to the Internet, we will mail a quarterly statement to you if you like.
Will the creditors stop the interest while I am on the program?
The DMP is a voluntary program supported by the majority of financial institutions. The responses will vary by creditor but most will reduce or eliminate the interest along with ongoing charges/late fees to help you repay your debts in a reasonable amount of time.
How long will my program last?
Your counsellor will help you determine the approximate length of time that it will take you to be debt-free. The exact length of time that your program lasts will depend on many factors including;
– whether or not your creditor has stopped or reduced the interest;
– if all payments are made up to date and on time;
– if there are any extra payments applied to the account; and
– as one creditor is paid in full, the payments to your other creditors will increase.
Am I allowed to pay extra on my accounts while on a DMP?
You can definitely pay extra on your DMP at any time. You can add extra each month or you can make lump sum payments. We strongly recommend that you pay more than the regular amount whenever you are in a position to do so as this will pay off your debts sooner than first anticipated.
Are there any penalties for making lump sum payments? And are all payments to be made through you?
There are no penalties charged for these extra payments or paying the program off in full before the designated time. By making all payments through us, we maintain accurate and up to date balances on each of your accounts. It also allows us to notify the credit reporting agencies when you have successfully completed your program through us.
Is there a charge for this program?
Yes, there is a monthly fee involved with our DMP. We keep our fees as low as possible and our fee structure can range anywhere from $5/month to $50/month. The amount is determined based on the number of creditors a client has and the amount owing to each one. The fee is included in your total monthly deposit and won’t be taken from money paid to creditors.
I thought this was a free service.
While we are a registered non-profit organization we do incur expenses. Our fee is minimal compared to our expenses. We receive no government funding and the majority of our funding comes from voluntary donations from the creditors we deal with.
Is this like bankruptcy?
We do everything we can to prevent bankruptcy by offering alternative solutions such as our DMP. Since we don’t deal in bankruptcy ourselves, if the counsellor feels that it is in your best interest, they may provide you with a referral to a trustee in bankruptcy
Does this affect my credit rating?
To speak with a counsellor and have your financial situation reviewed has no effect on your credit rating. This is a confidential appointment and no one is aware of it unless you choose to tell them. The DMP may affect your credit rating; however, that will depend on your current credit standing. The DMP will reflect as an R7 rating on your report, which states that you’re making regular payments under a consolidation order or through a similar program such as the one we offer. Creditors are ultimately responsible for the rating that gets reported to the credit bureaus.
How is this any different from bankruptcy?
We offer an impartial point of view and will only advise what we truly feel is in your best interest. Whether you choose to file bankruptcy or not, is your decision. Our DMP is offered to anyone who can benefit from it because it allows them to repay their debts with affordable payments. It also provides a higher rating on a credit report than filing for bankruptcy which makes it easier to re-establish credit once all debts have been paid.
How is your program different from a consumer proposal?
A consumer proposal to creditors is a legally binding procedure that is administered for the courts through a licensed trustee in bankruptcy. Both you and your creditors are bound to payment arrangements made through the trustee. You must be in a financial position to meet these arrangements or able to provide a third party guarantee or other security.
Will I lose my home, car and have to give up all my credit cards?
The DMP excludes secured debt such as vehicle loans and mortgages. The client continues to be responsible for maintaining these debt payments in good standing while on our program. You are not at risk of losing your home or car as long as these payments are kept up-to-date. We do require you to give up all credit cards and request that you don’t obtain any other credit while on the program. The goal is to not incur any more debt while on the program so that when you are finished you will be completely debt free with the exception of your mortgage and/or car loan.
Can I keep just one credit card for emergencies?
Creditors won’t negotiate or consider lower payment arrangements than originally agreed to unless all unsecured debt, including credit cards, overdrafts, lines of credit and payday loans are disclosed and included on the program. Many financial institutions offer prepaid credit cards for those that require access to a credit card for employment or business purposes.
Will my employer know that I am on a DMP?
No. We have very strict confidentiality/privacy policies and will not share your personal information with anybody other than the creditors you have authorized us to contact on your behalf.
I received a call from a company claiming they can reduce my debt. “Is this too good to be true?”
Trust your instincts. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Many debt reduction companies make false promises and use aggressive, high pressure tactics to entice you to sign onto their programs. Don`t sign anything or send any money until you`ve done your homework. Check with the Better Business Bureau www.ccbbb.ca to find out if other consumers have filed complaints or had a negative experience with the company you are considering.
I was told by a debt reduction company that I could save up to 70% on my total debt. Is this true?
Unfortunately, many companies will claim to be able to settle your debts with a guaranteed high savings; but the truth is, it’s impossible to predict what the final outcome will be. No specific settlement amount can be “guaranteed” until the negotiations are finalized with your creditors.
Do you charge up-front fees for your services?
No. Consumers are not charged any fees until services are rendered. This includes budget counselling, debt management programs and our settlement service. Be wary of any company that wants to charge you up-front fees.
Will I still have contact with my creditors during the debt negotiation process?
Yes. It is important that you do not ignore any calls or written communication you may continue to receive from your creditors. During the negotiation phase, your accounts will continue to age. It`s important to keep the lines of communications open with your creditors. This could help prevent accounts from going to collections or legal actions from taking place.
On your settlement service plan, will I receive updates?
Yes. Constant communication (by phone or e-mail) is maintained with you to keep you updated on the progress of the negotiations with your creditors.
Am I better off to enter into a settlement agreement with my creditors or enrol in a Debt Management Program? What’s the difference?
A settlement agreement may be a better option if you have a lump sum of money. A Debt Management Program serves as an alternative to bankruptcy and allows you to repay your debts over a longer period of time at a reduced interest rate. Settlements usually result in approx. 60-70% of the debt being paid back, while a Debt Management Program allows you to pay back 100% of the debt. In the end, it all depends on your current financial situation.