Members of the American Association of Credit Counselors that provide debt settlement services have agreed to the following disclosures and have incorporated these into their processes.
Good Faith Estimate – Sample
Debt Settlement Disclosures – Sample
Customer Service Pledge – Sample
The American Association of Credit Counselors is comprised of companies committed to a set of standards and best practices that put consumer’s needs and goals first.
The following standards are what consumers should look for in any company they approach for advice, or in the delivery of debt relief services:
A reputable service provider will walk you through a suitability test. This test is a process to determine what debt relief option will likely prove to be the best option given your current financial abilities and your immediate and future goals. When there is a recognizable benefit to utilizing an AACC member’s product or service, you will be informed of the opportunity to do so. Where other options are more suited to your particular situation, an AACC member will identify these and can often refer you to other reputable resources.
Fully Understand Your Action Plan
You must recognize the importance of fully understanding the steps you will need to take when enrolled in any debt relief plan. Prior to beginning any debt relief process, service providers should outline to you the many action steps that require your participation and commitment. You should be informed of key elements involving your plan. All AACC members are committed to providing a clear outline of the following:
- Estimate of time you will need to commit to in order to see your plan through to completion
- Estimate of money you will have paid to complete your debt payments
- Estimate of fees you will pay to the service provider throughout your program
- Timing of payments and fees, when and how they are calculated or applied
- No AACC member offering direct debt settlement services will charge a fee until each settlement is achieved and at least one payment made toward the agreed upon terms in the settlement with your creditor
Customer Support, Updates & Reporting
Success and satisfaction in any debt relief process is partly attributable to how well you are able to communicate with those offering you assistance. AACC members have made a pledge to customer service and support that will provide you with the confidence you are working with someone you can trust. You can raise any concern you ever may have to the highest level of management at any AACC member company by accessing that company’s page on the AACC website.
Some of the items that will be important to you while working with your service provider will include:
- Timely responses to your phone calls and emails
- Regular updates regarding all aspects of your plan on a minimum monthly basis
- Access to all accounting of your funds, payment disbursements and fee calculation either through online login or at your request
- Ability to escalate any issues you may have to top management
AACC members will outline your initial plan and assist you in managing your expectations. All risks will be properly outlined and explained up front prior to enrollment. A good firm will carefully detail the risks verbally and provide written disclosures not only in their enrollment paperwork, but also as a standalone disclosure document so that any risks are distinct and prominent for you to further evaluate.
Charging of fees
Any fees for direct services will be clearly outlined to you by all AACC members. AACC members comply with all federal and state fee requirements for debt relief service providers. With regard to debt negotiation, no AACC member will charge an advance fee for direct debt settlement services. This is extremely important for consumers to consider as there are people and companies who continue to try any creative method they can concoct to find loopholes in order to charge fees prior to having earned them. The AACC encourages any consumer to provide information to us about contact they have had with any company offering to settle your debt who would charge fees prior to having settled at least one of your accounts.
AACC Members have met licensing requirements or are otherwise authorized to offer their respective services in the states they assist consumers with debt relief.
AACC members voluntarily publish their individual success and performance measures that are consistent with rules and laws regarding advertising. This is significant for many reasons. Advertisers and service providers have made, and continue to make, hyperbolic and outlandish claims that are designed to entice you to enroll in programs that they will profit from, but that may not be appropriate for you. Success and savings claims must meet very strict criteria and be inclusive of data points that, when done correctly, could be viewed as a deterrent and a detriment to the sales and enrollment process. Companies who publish their historical performance data for the world to see are embracing a level of truth and transparency that has unfortunately been a rarity in the debt relief services industry.