Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NFCC Launches New Site to Assist Consumers in Financial Trouble

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) has revamped their web site to provide consumers in financial trouble with a wide array of e-tools designed to help them solve their problems. The site also provides access to an NFCC-certified counselor to work with them on a more personal (human) level.

“It can be argued that there has never been a time when consumers needed financial tools more. And, when you need help, you want it fast. You don’t have time to waste going from site to site. You might say the NFCC is the HOV lane of the Information Highway,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.

Sadly enough, the current economic crisis continues to spawn a lot of too-good-to-be-true financial rescue schemes. These offers -- which frequently put the consumer in even more financial distress -- are being hawked via spam e-mails and other advertising venues at an alarming rate. The NFCC, which has been around for over fifty years, and is one place where a person can reach out for some legitimate help without getting themselves in even more financial hot water.

The newly redesigned site has a lot of practical tools including a printable budget worksheet for tracking monthly expenses, access to financial calculators to help understand how long it will take to pay off credit card debt, what amount of mortgage debt can reasonably be sustained, or how long it’s going to take to save enough money for that special purchase.

There are also consumer tips on relevant everyday topics such as saving, credit, debt, and job loss, among others; consumer resources such as NFCC publications and videos and useful links; and videos of financial fast facts along with real life success stories, and a “Tell Us Your Story” area for consumers to voice how they’re faring in today’s economic environment.

Consumers in financial distress can reach out to a live person at the NFCC Member Agency closest to them through a secure online portal. NFCC counselors can provide assistance and advice with credit counseling, housing counseling and bankruptcy counseling and education.

On a lighter side, there is even a poll where someone can express their opinion about the current financial issues and see how they compare with the rest of the country.

The NFCC has been in the news in the past few days for striking a deal with credit issuers to help consumers facing overwhelming credit balances get out of debt. Thus far, ten of the top credit issuers have agreed to roll out two special needs repayment plans, and the NFCC hopes more will follow suit.

Last month, according to Moody's credit card index, uncollectible credit card debt surged to a 20-year high at 8.82 percent. Additionally, the Fitch Credit Card Index reported credit card delinquencies have increased 36 percent in the past six months.
Michelle Singletary covered this story at the Washington Post. The NFCC also has more information on this in a press release they put out on April 15th.

The NFCC marked April as Financial Literacy Month and has launched a lot of events designed to promote financial responsibility. The newly designed site is one of them. The climax of their efforts is on April 28th when they present the National Survey Results on Consumer Financial Literacy to Congress.

Another event scheduled on April 28th will be a special MSN Message Board Event, where NFCC-certified counselors will be on-hand from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).
Besides providing e-tools to promote financial education, the NFCC can also be reached at 1-800-388-2227 to speak to a counselor near you. Para ayuda en EspaƱol Ilama al 1-800-682-9832.