Help with Your Credit – Can it be True?
Most readers of this blog know that Mr. ToughMoneyLove is no fan of credit and is an avowed enemy of the credit score. But I made a little discovery this morning and need to give credit where credit is due. (How is that for a play on words?)
This morning, I saw an advertisement for Help With My Credit. Under normal circumstances I would pay no attention to such a phrase because I have no intention of ever using credit again. But being a skeptical personal finance blogger, I felt compelled to look for and perhaps expose the hard truth of the organization behind this ad.
So far, I am pleasantly surprised.
Help With My Credit was started by a handful of credit card issuers (e.g., Bank of America, Capital One, Citi, and Discover) in combination with card payment processors (Visa, MasterCard). This is how they describe their mission:
Help With My CreditSM is a resource provided by leading credit card issuers and payments networks to raise awareness and educate consumers struggling to make their credit card payments about assistance available to them, including the work the companies are already doing individually to assist their cardholders.
The companies participating in Help With My CreditSM have joined together to make it easier for consumers who are unsure about where to turn for help to access tools and information that can help them get back on track.These credit card issuers and payments networks understand that many consumers are unaware of resources available to assist them in managing their credit.
First, let’s agree that there are some self-serving interests behind this program. These would include (1) keeping cardholders out of bankruptcy and (2) reducing the burden on customer service folks. I can accept that.
But looking at the Help with My Credit site with a skeptical eye, I came away reasonably impressed. There are links to what appear to be the top shelf credit counseling agencies and organizations. The tips for how to use credit wisely are decent, even considering that “cutting up your cards” is not on the tip list. There is a straightforward explanation of how to read your credit card statement. (I wonder how often cardholders actually read anything on their statement except the amount due that month and perhaps how much credit overhead is left on that card.)
The Help with My Credit site also includes an easy to use and understand credit payment calculator, links to credit education programs provided by each site sponsor, and links to government resources. Most important, if the site user is ready to actually get some human help, the site interactively directs the user to a customer service number for the card issuer and/or to a credit counseling agency. (No links, however, to bankruptcy lawyers.)
I like the concept of an easy to use centralized clearing house of information that will help folks who truly desire to end their credit card addictions. Help with My Credit provides that. For some people, links to counseling programs for compulsive shoppers would be helpful but I suppose you need to draw a line somewhere. Telling someone that out of control spending is the root cause of their credit card problem is a sure way to get them hit the back arrow on their browser.
I haven’t tried to use any of the customer service numbers to test how helpful they actually are. It may be that this is all show and no go.
I’d be curious if any readers have any experience in dealing with any of the Help with My Credit sponsors to get help?