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All About Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp.

Company Name

Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp.

Owners/Managers

Christopher A. Viale, President & CEO
Thomas W. Hebert, Chief Financial Officer
Tracy Guay, Clerk Of the Corporation

Physical Street Address

67 Hunt Street
Agawam, MA 01030

Contact Information

1-800-CAMBRIDGE (1-800-226-2743)
[email protected]

Website

CambridgeCredit.org

Description of Services Provided

Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp. is a 501(c) 3 non-profit credit and housing counseling agency. All consumers who contact Cambridge have the opportunity to engage in a thorough analysis of their finances and to receive education and budgeting advice appropriate to their circumstances, free of charge. If such a financial assessment indicates that the consumer would not ordinarily be able to alleviate his or her debt without creditor concessions, Cambridge will offer the option of enrolling in its debt management program (DMP) to help the individual establish an affordable and convenient plan to repay their current debts in a timely manner.

As a HUD Certified housing counseling agency, we work to assist consumers with the many homeownership concerns indicative of our current economic climate. Our Housing division offers offers HUD-approved housing counseling services for homeowners, prospective buyers and renters. Among the services offered by our experienced staff are Foreclosure intervention, Pre-purchase, Rental, and

MA Department of Elderly Affairs approved Reverse Mortgage Counseling.
Lastly, Cambridge is a US Department of Justice approved Pre-Filing Bankruptcy Counseling service, helping to empower consumers who’ve begun the bankruptcy process.

What Makes Us Special

Our Counseling Department is comprised of AFCPE Accredited Credit Counselors, and our Housing Department is staffed by NCHEC Certified Housing Counselors. on average, these dedicated individuals have been assisting consumers with financial problems for more than 10 years. Their unique insights and critical thinking has helped more than 2,000,000 Americans take a proactive approach to remedying their financial concerns.

For those consumers opting to use our Debt Management Program, we have developed an extensive post-counseling initiative that reinforces the education provided during the initial counseling session, ensuring consumers get the most out their Debt Management Plan experience. Although a DMP can be instrumental in helping some consumers become debt free in a 5-year timeframe, enrollment alone does not prevent them from reverting to the behaviors, attitudes and spending patterns that resulted in their need to contact Cambridge in the first place. For this reason, Cambridge’s counselors reach out to these consumers for three post-counseling sessions within their first 90 days of enrollment, and offer financial check-ups every six months thereafter. Furthermore, Our staff also conducts comprehensive reviews of every client’s account after four months to make sure all benefits have been appropriately extended.

Cambridge discloses performance and satisfaction information each quarter as part our effort to promote transparency in the debt relief industry. Results can be seen on our website at www.cambridge-credit.org./transparency.html.

Lastly, Cambridge maintains an A+ rating with the BBB, are members of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA) and have been audited to their best practices (the AICCCA Code of Practice) since 2005.

Our Philosophy in Assisting People

Cambridge is dedicated to promoting a more knowledgeable and financially responsible America: by teaching sound money management practices; by assisting financially distressed individuals and families through appropriate counseling, education and advice; and by providing people with information and resources needed to obtain, maintain and sustain housing.

Fee Schedule

Cambridge follows all state laws regarding the charging of fees. Fees are capped at $75.00 for the setup (or initial) fee and $50.00 for a monthly fee. Additionally, Cambridge reduces or waives its fees for consumer’s experiencing extreme hardship.

Client Satisfaction Policy

Cambridge will refund its initial fee to any client who cancels within the first 90 days of enrollment. Cambridge’s goal is to maintain a 95% Satisfaction score for both its Credit Counseling and Client Support divisions, as measured through surveys sent to random members of the client population each quarter. We also expect that 65% of respondents will rate their experiences as “Excellent.”

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The information contained on this page was provided by the company itself as a way to introduce themselves to the public. It has not been independently verified.

Have you used this company and would love to share your opinion about them? Post your comment below.

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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • http://twitter.com/fraudsniffer CMS

    Errick and Angelo you both bring up good points. Both of you are accurate in many areas in my opinion (which may not matter to either of you.)

    Reality is that if these people can not afford DMP they will likely not be able to afford settlement. This means that the settlements being offered by the banks don’t matter if the person can’t afford to pay them.

    This substantiates the need for a true underwriting process in the debt relief industry. We all know how many poeple buy into one solution or another, but the industry should group together rather than oppose the alternive options. DMP fallouts spark settlement leads. settlement fallouts spark BK leads.

    So what is truly the right solution for the debtor? There is no uniform answer, so there needs to be a uniform standard for each situation.

    My proposal: figure out what the person can afford. Lets say over a 3,4 or 5 year plan. So far, this is no different than what is being sold on the debt relief front lines today.

    Just add one simple step: a true qualification process.

    Take the debtor’s DTI and calculate a payment that takes them up to, let’s say, 70%. That’s higher than what most of the banks required to get a mortgage in our last boom, so this should be more than fair to them when working in the bank’s favor.

    So, we have Lisa Debtor who brings home $4,000 per month, and her husband brings in $2,800. Total hh income is $6,800 per month. They have expenses that total  $4,000. That alone is 58%. Add a payment into their budget of $750 to bump the DTI up to just under 70%. This means that their payment to their debts would be $750 per month, arriving at a total DTI of 69.8%. Keep in mind to the naysayers, that still leaves them with over 2k disposable.

    Put them on a 3 year plan and estimate 40% settlements, this plan could mathematically resolve $67,500 in debt.

    Im not syaing this person qualifies for settlement with that much disposable income, this was just for conversational purposes. Maybe these people woudl be a great candidate for DMP because they can afford a higher payment. Anyway, you see where I am going with this. But think about the possibilities for regulatory support if something like this was implemented. A blueprint for the industry. An enrollment standard, let’s call it.

    The debt relief indutry needs forward thinkers. This may or may not be the answer, but it sure does speak on a higher level as to the thought process of today’s settlement models.

  • http://twitter.com/ThomasJFox Thomas J. Fox

    Hello Angelo,

    The review does not mention that Cambridge advises people to file bankruptcy should they be unable to participate in a DMP. Our counselors work to identify the best options for consumers and advises them accordingly.  In some instance bankruptcy may be appropriate, in others debt settlement; however, these recommendations only represent a fraction of the advice we provide.  I hope this clears things up a bit.

    Thomas Fox
    Community Outreach Director
    Cambridge Credit Counseling. 

    • Angelo

      Thanks Thomas,  maybe I misread the article but it reads …”If such a financial assessment indicates that the consumer would not ordinarily be able to alleviate his or her debt without creditor concessions, Cambridge will offer the option of enrolling in its debt management program (DMP) to help the individual establish an affordable and convenient plan to repay their current debts in a timely manner.
      …and continues “Lastly, Cambridge is a US Department of Justice approved Pre-Filing Bankruptcy Counseling service, helping to empower consumers who’ve begun the bankruptcy process.

      There is no mention of any other option so you can understand the confusion.  Im glad to see that Cambridge does suggest settlement.  Are you guys doing that in house or referring to a settlement company? 

      • http://twitter.com/ThomasJFox Thomas J. Fox

        Hello Angelo,

        I think I see where the confusion stems from.  Pre-Bankruptcy Counseling is a separate offering, which is why we differentiated it from our Debt Management services in the above write-up. Part of the 2005 Bankruptcy legislation requires individuals who have begun the filing process to receive education through a non-profit credit counseling agency.  

        As for settlement, our counselors make many recommendation, all of which are predicated on the individuals circumstances. Cambridge does not provide any form of debt settlement services, nor do we refer consumers to any Debt Settlement agencies.  Our counselors do, however, educate consumers on all debt relief options and how to identify services that are compliant with all state and federal guidelines.  It is our mission to provide people with information that will allow them to make educated decisions when remedying the stresses of indebtedness.   

        Thomas Fox
        Community Outreach Director
        Cambridge Credit Counseling.

      • Pam

        I would just like to let you all know that I met a counselor from Cambridge Credit Counseling this summer while attending a Foreclosure Expo. I had been unsuccessful in getting my loan modified and the rep from the loan company was a total *ss to talk to. I almost left in total frustration but then remembered there were housing counselors available to speak to. I hooked up with Beata from Cambridge and she explained everything to me including special refi programs. I am scheduled to close next Tuesday with a Fannie Mae program called DU Refi Plus.  I would never have know about this program if it wasn’t for Beata and Cambridge Credit Counseling. Thank you!!

      • http://twitter.com/ThomasJFox Thomas J. Fox

        Hello Pam,

        Congratulations!  Happy to hear you met up with one of our counselors.  Beata is great, and she’s one smart cookie. If Cambridge can be of help in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us.

        Thomas Fox
        Community Outreach Director
        Cambridge Credit Counseling

      • Angelo

        Thank you for your reply Thomas, makes sense but I have to ask if you could clarify something?  You wrote….”Our counselors work to identify the best options for consumers and advises them accordingly.  In some instance bankruptcy may be appropriate, in others debt settlement; however, these recommendations only represent a fraction of the advice we provide”.   

        Then you wrote…” Cambridge does not provide any form of debt settlement services, nor do we refer consumers to any Debt Settlement agencies”.  

        Im confused again, what is Cambridge’s position on Debt Settlement?  For or against?  If you are for it then why not refer consumers who cannot afford the DM payments to a credible settlement company or offer settlement yourselves? By not doing so, you are just leaving those consumers with bankruptcy as their only other option and I cant see how that serves in the best interest of the consumer you are supposed to be helping. 

      • http://twitter.com/ThomasJFox Thomas J. Fox

        Hello Angelo,

         

        Cambridge supports all viable debt relief remedies that act
        in an ethical and practical manner to assist consumers. The choice, ultimately,
        lies with the consumer as to which service they feel is appropriate.  As I
        stated in my initial response, we advise on a multitude of remedies, not just
        bankruptcy and settlement.  The goal of our services is to empower, so
        ideally we would like to help someone help themselves.  The education we
        provide allows an individual to assess the best approaches to stabilizing their
        financial situation.  It is not for us to steer them to services, merely
        to provide the support necessary to make an informed
        decision.     

        Thomas Fox
        Community Outreach Director
        Cambridge Credit Counseling. 

      • Angelo

        That was a very safe answer Thomas, good job.  Im not sure where steering comes into this but I cant help but to think that the only way to act in the best interest of the consumer is to offer every available option because there is no one plan fits all when it comes to consumers seeking debt relief.  The article doesn’t mention debt settlement as part of your education so I had to ask why steer consumers away from settlement?  Its not really clear which side of the fence Cambridge is on when it comes to settlement.

        And following that bouncing ball, the next logical question is why not provide settlement services or as part of “educating consumers” why not find an ethical performance based settlement company to provide the services once your counselors realize the consumer cannot afford the payments in a DM plan?  

        By the way, Im not picking on Cambridge I was just looking to start dialog.  You guys are doing the right thing with the transparency project but fall short when it comes to standing up to the banks and obeying their orders. This is an ongoing problem in our industry, the non profits are told to steer away from settlement for fear of losing fair share (and live transfers…aka referrals from the creditors) knowing that offering settlement should be an option.  

        Most reputable settlement companies offer both DM, Settlement and BK referrals.  Non profits have tried to get into settlement because they not only know its a viable option to avoiding bankruptcy but the revenue potential is greater than fair share but they have been scolded each attempt.  

        In a perfect world the non profits should do what Croxon did and tell the banks to take this job and shove it and offer every available option to truly help consumers. Im just saying…..

  • Angelo

    Wait, I’m confused….am I reading this right….if a consumer is unable to afford payments in a DMP they are told to file bankruptcy?  No settlement?  Why would you tell a consumer to file bankruptcy knowing full well that banks take settlements all day long?  Is that really acting in the best interest of the consumer?

    • Errick

      Yes Angelo, there are lots of people who think just that.  Many banks do take settlements, but enough of them don’t that almost everyone has a card in their wallet that will wind up with a lawsuit and a judgment if you stop paying.  And paying somebody to do it, well that’s just money down a rathole. And waiting a year or more for your inevitable garnishments, attachments, and bankruptcy, well that just makes you a victim.

      • Angelo

        Oh I know there are people who think that way Errick but my question was, does that seem to be in the best interest of the consumer?  

        The reason non profits are against settlement is because they are told to. They have all tried to get into settlement one way or another but got their hands slapped by the banks so now they are against it. Let’s not kid each other here, cant argue that point.Your statement that enough banks dont settle is inaccurate.  In my 4 years settling debt I’d say no more than 20% (original creditors) take that stand.  My position has always been that if a bank chooses to not work with a settlement company it’s their loss…we just wait it out and focus on the clients other accounts until that one is sold off or re-assigned…eventually they all settled and I have enough data to back that claim up as well.  Also, judgments, garnishments, attachments and the inevitable bankruptcy that you mentioned mainly occurs when consumers fail to answer a summons.  I offer my clients the Veritas Legal Plan, it provides full legal rep to defend any creditor lawsuits so they dont have to worry about getting sued.  So my next question Errick would be….if consumers did not have to worry about getting sued would you still feel the same way about debt settlement or would you continue  steer everyone to file bankruptcy?   

      • Errick

        The problem is, if you need Veritas for a defense, then you’ve been sued, which is no fun no matter how good your attorney is.  It goes on your credit report, and pops up in public record searches.  And you might lose, because let’s face it, you did borrow that money.

        So yes of course, if you could actually prevent lawsuits, that would be a different story.  But nobody can do that.  I don’t know what your 20% means, but 24% of all credit card accounts are either Discover or AMEX.  That means that if you have four or more cards, it is almost certain you have one of those.  And those are the very hardest to settle.

      • Angelo

        This is fun….

        That’s incorrect Errick, best way to describe Veritas is to compare it to insurance where if you do get sued all attorney costs are covered and also like insurance, you cant purchase it after you’ve had an accident the difference is the consumer pays a low monthly payment instead of huge upfront retainer fees the attorney models charge. Your inexperience in debt settlement and creditor lawsuits is clear.  Grab a pen and take some notes kid….if you are being sued by a creditor its most likely been 6-8 months since default so the credit is already shot.  Next….might lose?  I dont understand that… even with an attorney, the worse case scenario is a payment plan and if the consumer is enrolled in a DS plan they are (should be) accumulating money to settle that summons.  My 20% means that 20% of the original creditors stated they did not work with settlement companies and by the way, every creditor at one point or another runs test programs where they decide to not work with settlement companies but that usually last a few months and they start working with us again once they compare the collection numbers that’s why the majority of them do work with us.  Im curious though, where did you hear that Discover and Amex are the hardest to settle?  We settle Discover and Amex accounts daily….some directly with them, some with collection agencies and some with law firms after a lawsuit was filed.  If the consumer is able to make the payments on a summons payment plan and accumulate funds to settle other accounts then we saved one more person from having to file BK.  If at that time, they are not able to do that then I would be the first to suggest talking to a BK attorney but not sooner.  My point in my original post is that to act in the best interest of the consumer settlement has to be an option.    

      • Cupid

        Angelo – I posted some thoughts in response to Errick on this thread:
        http://getoutofdebt.org/31142/

        If
        you read my comment over there, I would be interested in your reaction.

        Thanks hon.

        “Now get in the pit and try to love someone”.

      • Errick

        And I have the same reply.  If you were right, we would be able to find one consumer who finished their plan on budget and on time.  But we can’t, because there isn’t.  I don’t need to write a Bible because what I am saying fits the observable facts.

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