Frequently Asked Questions
CCCS of Chattanooga has a long track record of helping people in Chattanooga and the Tennessee River Valley. We have been in business for over 40 years and have helped thousands of people reclaim their financial health. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
All of our services are completely confidential. Our advisors must be certified through the NFCC and have to maintain that certification through continuous training and education.
We offer a large number of services including:
- Financial Education
- Paying Off Debts
- Debt Management Programs - Debt Consolidation
- Bankruptcy Counseling
- Foreclosure Prevention Counseling
- Housing Counseling
- Reverse Mortgage Counseling
- Student Loan Counseling
- Representative Payee Services
Please call us at 423-490-5620 if you have any questions about these services.
Thank you for your email in regards to our services. The certified bank check can be made out to either Consumber Credit Counseling Service of Rochester or CCCS of Chattanooga. If you have further questions or concerns please feel free to contact our office and a client support representative will be glad to assist you.
Employment opportunities can be found under the header "About Us" on our website www.cccsofchattanooga.org.
Yes, creditors will respect the fact that you've taken responsibility early and are attempting to resolve the problem before it becomes a major concern. In fact, catching the problem early can prevent further harm to your credit rating.
Debt Management Plan
A settlement is when you arrange to pay less than the full balance of your debt that is due. When this occurs, the creditor will report that you settled on the debt and this will be reflected on your credit report for seven to ten years. Also, when you settle debt, there may be possible tax ramifications. With a Debt Management Program, the overall balance is not reduced (just the minimum payment due and interest rate), there are no tax implications and the creditors will not report that the debt was settled.
We assist our clients with reducing the interest rates to help make their payments more affordable and to pay off the debt in a more timely manner. However, we do not reduce the overall balance as this would be a considered a debt settlement.
When you are initially enrolled into the program, the creditors can close the accounts. This can cause a slight decline. However, as you make consistent on time Debt Management Plan payments, each creditor on the plan will update the credit report each month. This can cause a positive effect over the course of the program as you pay down the debt.
This is a great question! The debt management program is a structured plan designed to help pay off your debt in an efficient and timely manner. Many of our clients are struggling to make minimum monthly payments which can cause them to fall behind and to receive late fees which add to balances and can negate the payments you are making. Once your Debt Management Plan has been established, you begin making consistent on time payments to your creditors therefore helping to improve your credit score. Experian says: “The impact on your scores may be minimal, depending on how the payments are managed and if you have other positive accounts. The most important thing is that you must make sure that the company will immediately take over the payments so that you never miss a payment in the transition to their service. As long as all your payments are made on time, it won’t matter who paid them and there is no scoring issue from that aspect.” Typically, our clients notice improvement in their score within the first year they are on the program and by the time they make that last payment, they experience relief and pride in seeing what they’ve accomplished to help improve their credit and ultimately their future.
You should/will continue receiving monthly statements from your creditors. If you are not receiving statements from your creditors, you should contact them to ensure they have your most recent contact information. These statements provide you with valuable information regarding your account with them. Key information located on your statement that should be monitored monthly:
Additional activity such as credits or other balance adjustments
It’s important to monitor your monthly statements to ensure that you’re being charged the correct interest rate, your balance is decreasing with payment activity and that there is no unusual activity or additional fees being applied to your account. If you have any questions about your statement or notice incorrect information, please contact our Client Support Department for additional assistance. The statement will provide us with important information so please have it available at the time of your call. If necessary, we will contact your creditor to resolve the issue. CCCS of Chattanooga will also send you a statement on a monthly basis. Our statements provide estimated account balances, anticipated interest rates of each account as well as payment activity for your Debt Management Plan. In addition to reviewing your creditor statements for accuracy, we request that you compare our statement to that of your creditor and notify us of any discrepancies. Our staff members work in partnership with you to ensure your account information is accurate and that your Debt Management Plan is successful.
When a client enters into the Debt Management Plan with Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Chattanooga, they agree not to acquire any additional debt. However, exceptions are made for necessities. For example, this could include but is not limited to car loans, mortgages, and/or refinancing a mortgage. CCCS, like any debt management agency, does not decide whether or not a client is able to qualify for a mortgage or car loan. The fact is CCCS has had many clients successfully obtain car loans, purchase new homes, and secure home repair loans. Many times, CCCS has even assisted clients in obtaining these types of loans by providing letters or documentation for our clients to then provide to their lending institutions.
When you first enroll in the Debt Management Plan, our Client Support team will reach out to you 30 days, 90 days and at the 1 year mark. Each year after that, and during the anniversary month of your Debt Management Program start date, we will call you to discuss your progress and answer any questions you may have. This is your opportunity to let us know how the program is working for you, give us your feedback and to ask any questions. We understand how busy our clients are and you may not always be available when we call. In the event that we are unable to reach you by phone, we will send you a letter inviting you to call us at a time that is convenient for you. You also don’t have to wait for an anniversary to speak with us. Our Customer Support Department is open M-F from 9am to 5pm. If email is more your style, you can email us at cccsinfo@cccsofchattorg. You can also access your account information on line 24 hours a day. Please visit our website at www.cccsofchattanooga.org to log in.
A Debt Management Program is a payment plan between you, CCCS of Chattanooga, and your unsecured creditors. In this plan, creditors agree to offer special concessions to help you get out of debt. These concessions may include reducing your interest rates and stopping late and over-limit fees. This plan can reduce the months or years of repayment.
The short answer is "yes"
We would have you complete another appointment with the credit counselor to review your accounts again.
Call 423-490-5620, and choose "schedule appointment" option.
CCCS of Chattanooga
We offer a free 1 hour consultation with one of our credit counselors to determine the best course of action. If we set up a repayment program for the customer (a Debt Management Plan) the cost is $25.00 one-time set up fee, and monthly fee of $40.00 (max). If customer is only paying 1 credit card, or has low balances we can charge a lower monthly fee.
A program could start in a few weeks. It depends on the due dates of the accounts that will be on the plan.
I hope this information is helpful. Please call 423-490-5620 if you have additional questions.
CCCS of Chattanooga
The list below gives you an example of what is used to calculate your score.
35% of your credit score is Payment History - Paying your bills on time will help out tremendously. Delinquent payments and collection accounts report negatively and affect your score.
30% of your score is Outstanding Debt - Having too many open lines of credit can lower your score. Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit. If you have a $1000 credit limit, you only want to spend $300 on that card. Do not use the whole line. High outstanding debt lowers your score.
15% of your score is Length of Credit History - Accounts open for a long time have a positive impact on your score.
10% of your score is Recent Inquires - Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed. Do not open an account just because of a retail promotion. Also, every time you attempt to apply for credit cards 5 points will be taken away from your score. Keep new accounts to a minimum.
10% of your score is Types of Credit - Try to have at least 3 different types of credit card, car payment, personal loan, student loan or mortgage.\
It’s never too late to clean up your credit and improve your credit score. Keep in mind this debt did not happen overnight, so it will take some time and patience to establish good credit again. When increasing your credit score, you are rebuilding your credit history. There is no quick fix for a bad score, so please be suspicious of any deals that offer you a fast and easy solution. CCCS of Chattanooga can help you understand your credit report and also get some of those pesky debts paid off so you can increase your score for the future.
Depending on your situation, a Debt Management Program may be your best option. With a Debt Management Program there are many benefits, such as lower interest rates, accounts that are past due could re-age (brought current) and late fees would end. But most importantly, you would pay off these debts in 5 years or less. If going on a Debt Management Program is not an option for you, or not something you are looking to do, then here are some strategies that you may want to consider.
Target one debt at a time. Make sure you are paying at least the minimum payments on all your cards but then pay extra to one of your cards. Which one? You can compare interest rates and pay extra on the card with the highest balance OR pay off the lowest balance card. Once you have a card paid off apply the payment (and extra funds) to the next card.
Pay More than the minimum. Pay a little extra on every card. Every dollar over the minimum goes towards the balance, not interest. The smaller the balance, the less interest that occurs.
Apply any extra funds to your debt. Any extra income you get, put towards your debt.
Analyze where you have been spending your money the most and cut back. Then apply the money that you have saved towards your debts.
Call Creditors directly to see if they have any internal programs that can help you. If paying extra towards your credit cards is not permitted based on your budget and income and you are not looking to work with a debt management company, call the creditors and see if they can help.
A good place to start is to first review your credit report. One way to do this is to pull a copy of all three of your credit reports on www.AnnualCreditReport.com. This site is free of charge, and you can access a copy of your credit reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax once a year. It’s a good idea to review for any inaccuracies, and to see if there is anything reported that you may be unsure of. The first way to build credit is to obtain credit. A secured credit card is a great tool for people with a limited credit history. Many credit unions offer these cards to applicants with no credit or bad credit. A secured card is backed by a deposit from the applicant, which the credit limit is usually the same amount of the deposit. The minimum deposit varies by bank but is generally at least $300. These cards work similarly to a debit card, but the information is reported each month to the credit bureaus. The best way to utilize these cards is to use them for smaller monthly expenses and pay them off each month when the statement comes. It is important to make your payments on time each month, as payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score. Credit utilization is also a major portion of your credit score. Keeping your balances at 30% or less than your total credit limit helps your score. And avoid applying for unnecessary credit cards since this results in a hard inquiry on your credit and can bring your score down two or more points each time.
A Credit Counseling Session is an overview of your total financial situation. It can be done on the telephone or in person. During this session, a certified counselor will review all of you income, expenses and debts. At the conclusion of this comprehensive session, the credit counselor will make recommendations to help you get back on track financially (one of which may be a debt management program).
The average credit counseling session will last about one hour. This may vary depending on your specific situation. Beware of agencies that claim they can help you get rid of your debt in 15 minutes or less. These types of agencies may be trying to push you into their program without providing the full benefits of a credit counseling session.
On your own it may take ten or more years to pay off average debt amounts when making only minimum payments. CCCS of Chattanooga can devise a debt management plan to significantly reduce or eliminate most unsecured debt within three to five years.
Bankruptcy can affect your creditworthiness for 7 years. This is a very long time to wait for a car loan, a mortgage, or lower interest and fees credit cards. Bankruptcy can affect more than just loans. Many different organizations look at bankruptcy in a negative way long-term, which is why we suggest exploring a Debt Management repayment plan before you make this decision. That being said, if bankruptcy does end up being your only recourse, we offer the filing requirements you need to get through this
Don't wait. If you are feeling uncomfortable with the situation, your mortgage holder may feel that way too. Call right away for a free consultation. We can review your current situation and do a follow-up with a recommended course of action. The sooner the better.
CCCS has a variety of measures we can recommend you do, depending on your specific situation. We are a trusted agency with many financial institutions and when they know you are working with us, they know you have a commitment to restore your financial position and are more willing to work with you. Your free consultation will give you a better idea of the specific measures we recommend you take.
A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, also known as a Reverse Mortgage, allows a person 62 or older, who lives in their home at least six months of the year, to convert a portion of the equity in their home into cash without having to sell their home. This is a loan against the equity in the home and does not require a monthly payment. When considering a reverse mortgage, it is important that the homeowner has enough information to make the decision. For example -
Homeowner still owns their home
Title and deed stays in home owners name
Eliminates the current mortgage/ home equity if there is one
Any liens against the property have to be satisfied
After any liens have been paid off, the homeowner can use the balance of the funds however they choose. Be careful when spending these funds because you never know when a home repair or update will need to be done or a medical expense will come along. Investing the funds can be risky.
The homeowner is still responsible for taxes, insurance and upkeep of the home. If these items fall delinquent, the servicer can call the loan immediately due and payable. •The loan does not require a monthly payment and becomes due when the last surviving spouse is no longer able to live in the home, passes away or the home is sold. Also, if the homeowner defaults on their responsibilities.
The home owner will never owe more than the house is worth. There are several options that the homeowner has to receive the additional funds available to them– lump sum, monthly disbursement of a set amount, tenure, or line of credit. Our office offers appointments to discuss eligibility for the reverse mortgage. If you would like to learn more, please give our office a call and a client support representative will be glad to assist you.