What is credit counseling service? Could you please explain it in detail? Is it advisable for an individual to take these services even if he repays his loans on time?
Credit counselling service is pretty popular in western countries but slowly this is catching up in India too. Credit counselling is about advising borrowers about effective debt management.
For example, if a borrower has taken loan and is facing difficulty is repaying it, credit counselors can advise about effective way to manage this. Sometimes, credit counselors advise borrowers rebuild their credit score which has been worsened by past defaults. Credit counselling is mix of financial and behavioral advice where spending habits and debts are handled.
On your question whether one should take it, I would say it is individual’s choice. If you think that your spending pattern is indiscreet and you keep paying EMIs all the time, perhaps this is the time to seek counselling.
Ways to access funds in recent times has improved dramatically and spending needs are on the rise. These factors have enabled people to borrow at will and in the process get stuck with the process of repaying it. Situations like these need a bit of financial planning to see you through it but often people do not want to seek help as they do not want to declare their inability to pay back.
However, a bit of careful planning and guidance of an expert will bail you out of the situation.
In fact seeking the advice of a debt counsellor even before you apply for a loan will help you in smart management of your finances. Debt counselling is a relatively new concept in India but one with a lot of potential. Awareness of this service is limited currently.
Banks feel the need to educate the consumer on financial literacy and in a move to stress this Reserve Bank came out with a concept paper on the subject and Financial Literacy and Credit Counselling (FLCC) centres in April 2008. These centres could be a great resource for loan applicants as a final step in their research before they zero in on the kind of loan they need.
These centres have experts to help them with the best options to manage their money to their optimum advantage. Some of the other options you can explore are Bank of India-supported Abhay (http:www.bankofindia.con/abhay.aspx) and ICICI Bank-backed Disha (http:www.dishafc.org) who have a bunch of such counselling centres where you can set up a meeting with experts to take a call on a problem you may have with repaying your loan or a counselling session to arrive at the best option to manage loans.
With credit information bureaus becoming active and banks reporting defaulters to these agencies, which can hamper a borrower’s chances of applying and getting loans, it is best to take preventive measures to utilise expert advice to manage your finances intelligently. Individuals who are already in debt can have a talk with these experts to find a way out of the situation.
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