Depending on your situation, our certified, professional counselors may suggest our voluntary Debt Management Program (DMP). The DMP is a smart alternative that offers a dignified, disciplined way to get out of debt and avoid bankruptcy. The DMP is a voluntary program between you, the agency and your creditors. The agency has relationships with most unsecured creditors. These include MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express accounts, retail accounts, and finance company loans. These creditors realize that things happen to their customers that can cause them to become delinquent with their accounts or to just get overwhelmed with the amount of debt. If you are behind with your accounts or overwhelmed with your debt and use this program, creditors generally:
- Stop collection activity
- Stop late and over-limit fees
- May waive or reduce interest rates
- Some creditors may even accept a payment lower than what they expect from you directly
What to expect while on the DMP:
- The agency’s goal is to get you out of debt within five years. The amount the agency proposes to each of your creditors is determined by your creditors? Individual policies and the goal of getting you out of debt in a reasonable time period.
- You send one monthly payment to the agency that is then disbursed to your creditors who participate in the DMP. Each creditor is different and may require up to three monthly payments through our agency before granting these concessions.
- You will continue to receive a statement each month from your individual creditors that will reflect payments being made through the agency. It is important for you to continue to monitor these statements to ensure the payments are posting and the concessions are granted. We will also send you a monthly statement that will show each creditor on your Debt Management Plan and the amount of money we sent to each.
- Many creditors will reclassify a delinquent account as being current, which will help improve a negative credit report. Under the DMP, many creditors may reduce annual interest rates and charge between 6-15 percent interest on an annual basis.
The program length varies depending on the concessions granted by your creditors. In general, the program takes three to five years to complete.
What to expect when you contact our agency:
We know that picking up the phone and making that first call can be scary. Our counselors have worked with thousands of others that are in a situation similar to yours. They work with people from all walks of life and all income levels. You can talk with a counselor over the phone, or if you prefer, you can come in for an appointment at one of our ten offices. And rest assured, our counselors are very professional, yet very caring, and ready to help you.
During the session, the counselor will work with you to get a “picture” of your total financial situation. This “picture” is important because it helps the counselor determine different options or steps you can take to better manage your money or get your credit under control. The counselor will determine your net monthly income and ask you various questions that will help to estimate your monthly expenses. Some expenses, like the monthly rent or mortgage, are easy to determine. But others like groceries or gifts for the holidays can be harder to get a handle on. It may be helpful for you to review any grocery or ATM receipts you have, scan your check register, and do a mental inventory of things you typically spend money on.
After comparing income with expenses, it’s not uncommon for our clients to find they have a shortfall. Put another way; more month than money! The counselor will work with you to develop a balanced monthly spending plan. That’s the first and most essential step to getting back on track. If it’s appropriate, the counselor may recommend ways to increase your income, cut back on expenses, or even restructure some of your debts. In addition, the counselor may refer you to other local, state or national resources that may be of help. Also, the agency offers a special Debt Management Program to help you get back on track with your creditors and out of debt in a relatively short time period!
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Western Pennsylvania (CCCS of Western PA) has changed its name to Advantage Credit Counseling Service, Inc. (Advantage CCS).
On April, 8th 2004 CCCS of Western PA was rebranded to the new name of Advantage Credit Counseling Service, Inc. and we also have a new website at www.advantageccs.org. We are the same reputable and trusted non-profit credit counseling agency that has been helping people with their debt for over 49 years. Advantage CCS is still Pennsylvania’s largest consumer credit counseling agency.
Founded in 1968, Advantage CCS is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with multiple office locations across the state. We are a non-profit credit counseling agency that is approved and licensed. We are proud members of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA).