Many consumers may not be aware that a large number of nonprofits who provide credit counseling in Atlanta have popped up recently. There is a very direct reason for this: Non-profit businesses are exempt from The Telemarketing Service Rule (TSR). Therefore, it is very lucrative for debt relief agencies that use advertising and telemarketing to attract customers to be redefined as nonprofit agencies instead of for-profit agencies. Arguably, this, while completely legal, is borderline unethical. Credit counseling in Atlanta that engages in unethical behavior as a for-profit company will likely behave as an unethical nonprofit company, as well.
This is if the company is a non-profit at all. While many companies are changing their business models from non-profit to for-profit, even more companies are actually claiming non-profit status without actually being nonprofits. Several credit counseling companies have claimed to be federal tax exempt agencies when they are, in fact, not tax exempt at all. The FTC recommends that consumers seeking credit counseling in Atlanta investigate the agencies thoroughly before doing business with them to ensure their legitimacy.
Many legitimate, nonprofit agencies will offer a wide range of services to consumers. These services are usually not limited to debt consolidation, although they will usually include such a service. Other services include, but are not limited to: budgeting advice, financial planning, and debt management. Usually, a reputable agency will recommend these services prior to jumping into a debt management/consolidation program. If they do not, and immediately suggest debt consolidation, be leery. You should always assess your financial circumstances thoroughly to determine the best course of action.
Most reputable providers of credit counseling in Atlanta will offer free information. If you are expected to pay for educational resources, beware. Information should be free; services, however, can be charged. If you are charged fees, be certain that you receive a quote for the costs of service beforehand followed by an invoice for all fees after the services have been rendered. Additionally, most reputable organizations will be willing to work with customers who have difficulty paying for services. If they are unwilling to help with expenses or offer cheaper alternatives to expensive credit counseling in Atlanta, go elsewhere. Furthermore, expect a legal contract which documents the services rendered. You should not, under any circumstances, rely solely on a verbal contract.