It’s always cheaper to consolidate debt on your own. It’s also a good idea to turn to government or community assistance if you are in need of credit or debt counseling. But there’s also another way to get help — and that is to pay for it. Before signing up with any professional in this field, I would urge you to do your due diligence and be aware that these financial services cost money and may simply be doing the tasks you could do on your own.
The following is a review of Debt Consolidation Care, a site that helps match debtors with debt consolidation companies and counseling services.
For some people, struggling with debt can feel like a ten-round solo fight, but Debt Consolidation Care is a community that offers a place to discuss money problems. The site claims to be “the Internet’s first get-out-of-debt community”, with 193,000 members who can seek advice on topics like debt consolidation, debt settlement, bill consolidation, debt consolidation loans, payday loans and collection agencies. According to the site, it’s possible for consumers to learn more about lowering monthly payments, reducing interest rates, avoiding bankruptcy, and other topics.
Getting Started With Debt Consolidation Care
To get you started with counseling, there’s a brief counseling and analysis form to fill out. It asks for contact information such as your name, email address, phone number, zip code, and the range of your debt (under $10k to over $50k). Later, a consultant can call you for a free debt assistance counseling session.
If you’re amenable to the consultant’s recommendations for managing your debt, then the consultant will refer you to service providers, who will then contact your creditors to negotiate for lower interest rates and the possible waiver of applicable late fees. It’s important to note that you’re still responsible for your debts — no consultant can make them disappear.
Also, your consultant will discuss budgeting your expenses and improving your credit score. This is beneficial, because without a clear financial plan, it can be easy for consumers to lapse into the habits that allowed their debt to grow to hard-to-manage proportions.
When I checked the Terms of Usage and Conditions of Service page, I learned that the counseling signup refers you to a company advertised on the Debt Consolidation Care website; therefore, the debt consolidation isn’t done in-house as I’d first assumed. I think consumers should be made explicitly aware on the main page that Debt Consolidation Care is referring them to a third party. That party might charge fees or have terms of service that aren’t disclosed on Debt Consolidation Care’s site.
If you don’t want the debt counseling or if you’re already on another debt consolidation plan, you can try the community signup instead.
Debt Consolidation Care Community: Shared Knowledge & Experience
It can be tough to stay in the trenches of debt without some inspiration. With the DCC community, you can access online debt consolidation counseling, earn community rewards for posting in the forums and for blogging, and you can read how other members are handling their debts.
Another helpful set of tools are the 31 sample letters you can use as templates. The sample letters cover topics that include debt settlement, debt consolidation, validation of debts, dispute letters to credit bureaus, and various letters to creditors.
If you need to learn more about different debt-related topics, a number of articles are available, too. You can read about topics like debt relief, bankruptcy, working towards a debt-free lifestyle, and more. Their blog also covers ideas like how to budget your money, how to check your credit score, and other personal finance topics. You can also get to know the members of the community through the Hall of Fame, testimonials, and photos. Hearing about how others have successfully tackled their debt situation can certainly be inspirational.
Debt Management Resources to Check Out
There are also ebooks that you can read for free or which you can arrange to have mailed to you (for a fee). There are calculators for figuring out how much you’ll save through debt consolidation and for figuring out interest rates. There’s also a do-it-yourself section full of resources and educational material that cover debt consolidation, debt management, and debt settlement.
Under Debt Consolidation Care’s Companies section, you can look at charts that rank various debt consolidation and debt settlement companies in different states. You can read advice tailored to different states or cities, and direct questions to the community. Any questions that are specific to a particular state are addressed by resident members.
What Needs To Improve
When you feel like your debt is burying you, a community like Debt Consolidation Care might benefit you. However, I’ve got a small beef with their security processing: when I tried the community signup, the password the site emailed me contained a single digit. This default password lacks any kind of security, so I hurried to change it.
Although sites like Mint.com or Wesabe.com have a different focus than debt consolidation, you might prefer them for better security if you want a social networking aspect to managing your money. As far as finding help for debt consolidation issues, you may want to take a first stop at the FTC’s Knee Deep in Debt page. It has an overview of credit counseling, debt consolidation, debt negotiation programs, bankruptcy, and more.
So is Debt Consolidation Care worth checking out? I would say “it depends”. You’ll have to gauge whether you’d rather outsource debt management tasks to someone else. I believe greatly in do-it-yourself financial management, but on the other hand, I have also turned to professional help for certain financial matters, even if I can do the work myself. Again, it’s a matter of determining whether the money you spend on having a third party service do the job for you is worth the convenience and the time you ultimately save during this process.