Credit counseling organizations aren’t “debt settlement” companies, which — for a hefty fee — promise to bargain with creditors like credit card issuers to reduce principal owed. Historically, many promise more than they deliver and tend to keep consumers’ money. Avoid these guys altogether because you can do what they do yourself, without shelling out a fee. For instance, if you owe $5,000 and can scrape together a fraction of that, call the lender and offer to pay what you have. If they refuse, you’re no worse off than you were before. If they agree, get it in writing before you send them money. A reported settlement isn’t quite as good for your score as paying in full, so it’s better to work out a plan to pay off the entire amount. But if it will keep you from falling behind on future payments, it’s a better option because it will keep the debt from being charged off and sold to a collections agency.
Next 4. Ask For a Break