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NFCC Celebrates Utter Stupidity and Puts Older Dementia Patient in Debt Management Plan

A press release out today by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling is downright ignorant, stupid, harmful and cruel. It’s hard to believe they feel this is something to be proud of. For the record, I’m not calling the consumer stupid.

In this release the NFCC brags about Francine and Jim Bostick who at ages 57 and 68 had more than more than $120,000 in credit card obligations to deal with. The solution, Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc (HCCI) in Topeka, KS stuck them in a debt management plan.

These supposedly smart and consumer first credit counselors took two people quickly nearing retirement with no assets or saving account to speak of and stuck them in a five year debt management plan.

Congratulations Bostick’s, you got screwed. Now this couple has lost the time to save as much as they could for retirement and more importantly they lost precious time.

Jim was in the early stages of dementia, putting the bulk of the responsibility squarely on Francine’s shoulders. After endless hours of worry, she took the first step and reached out to NFCC Member Agency, Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc (HCCI) in Topeka, KS.

And then Jim is entering dementia and they still insisted in enrolling them in the DMP. Where was the education about bankruptcy in this situation? Why wasn’t this couple encouraged to use the five years the DMP was going to take to file bankruptcy, regroup, and get back to saving as quickly as possible to protect themselves and their retirement? That would have been the humane and responsible thing to do. But no.

Francine took on evening work with the local school district cleaning the buildings, and launched her own Avon business. Even though his dementia was slowly taking over, Jim worked 30 hours per week job to help make ends meet.

“It would have taken decades for us to become debt free, but now look at us. It is five years later and not only have we paid off all our debts, we also have a savings account,” said Francine. “My only regret is that Jim’s condition has worsened to the point that he can’t fully realize our accomplishment.”

“The remarkable thing about the Bosticks is their total commitment to repay their debts,” said Bob Mackey, president and CEO of HCCI. “For five years they worked second jobs, lived on a very lean budget, and paid $2,496 each month toward their debt repayment plan. We are very proud of the Bosticks and our counseling team that helped place them back on the road to financial stability.” – Source

Congratulations HCCI counselors, you just robbed Francine of her last days with Jim. Instead, Francine spent extra time away while Jim slipped further into dementia and lost those moments she could have had with him while she lost years of her life trying to make a debt management plan payment.

The NFCC press release boasts Francine saying, “It would have taken decades for us to become debt free, but now look at us.” Yea but with a chapter 7 bankruptcy it would have taken three months and the next nearly five years Francine could have spent closer to Jim rather than let him slip away without her there.

I’m not sure which is more appalling, the fact a credit counseling agency did this or that a national trade association thinks this is something to brag about. It’s shameful and disgusting.

But maybe I’m wrong about feeling so strongly here. Let’s recap: a credit counseling group took an older couple where one partner had growing dementia, no real assets, no savings account, and stuck them in a five year repayment plan where they now are 62 and 73, this prevented them from spending precious time together and stopped them from saving for retirement. Yep, still disgustingly shameful. I truly want to vomit right now.

Update 10-12-2012

See Did the NFCC Client of the Year Really Do the Ethical Thing?

This entire episode got me thinking about what people should expect when looking for debt help. So I wrote 10 Must Do Steps to Find the Best Credit Counseling or Debt Settlement Company for You to help people know what to look for.

NFCC Celebrates Utter Stupidity and Puts Older Dementia Patient in Debt Management Plan
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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://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

    See recent piece by MSN Money about this situation as well. http://money.msn.com/retirement/rising-debt-weighs-down-seniors

  • Karen O.

    As a consumer bankruptcy attorney, I try to obtain results that please both the client and myself. While Teri’s parents may not have wanted to file bankruptcy, there’s an additional option, besides the one chosen — A chapter 13 bankruptcy would have allowed them to pay some of their debt back, at zero interest, and without the need for Jim to work or for Francine to work two jobs. The payment would have been geared to their disposable income. There is no “one-size-fits-all” Chapter 13 bankruptcy — it is geared specifically for the debtors’ incomes and what is available. I have clients who feel positive about this as opposed to filing a chapter 7. I just wish that they had been given all the facts and more information.

  • Teri

    These 2 people are my parents and you know what they didn’t want to declare bankruptcy. They wanted to pay of the debt they occured. This wasn’t HCCI pushing them to pay of their debt that is what THEY wanted to do. Yes they could have declared bankruptcy but that was not an option for my mother. She wanted to pay off what she spent. They now have a great savings account, bought a new car because they have excellent credit. Now here’s my question would they have gotten 0% interest for the life of their car loan if they would have filed bankruptcy, no so get the facts straight. My mother still has lots of time left with my step father and she gets to retire in December debt free!!!

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Thank you for coming and commenting.

      Why didn’t your mother want to file bankruptcy even though as others note “it probably was not in their financial best interest to do what they did, especially at their age?”

      • Teri

        Because bankruptcy was not an option for my mother. She wanted to pay off her debt. It doesn’t matter what your age is you can pay of your debt and live a happy long life. Too many young people use bankruptcy as a way out, and my mother has seen this with so many of her friends. What happens to them…they build up their debt again and file bankruptcy again. She learned how to budget and save money with HCCI. This is a lesson you do not learn by taking the easy way out (bankruptcy).

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        Thank you for your response. I was in the middle of writing a followup article. See Did the NFCC Client of the Year Really Do the Ethical Thing?

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        Teri, I hope all is well with you.

        I just happened to come back across this article again and had just finished working on researching a story on bankruptcy refilers. A long study of bankruptcy filers shows only an 8% refile rate among chapter 7 bankruptcy filers. That means 92% never refile. Just wanted to clear the air on that and not leave it hanging.

  • Gerri

    This story has been on my mind all day. This couple is probably going to desperately need money for Jim’s increasing medical care. I doubt the creditors went down to 0% on all these debts. So they were still working to pay interest on these debts while Jim’s health was declining. I’d feel better if I knew that their creditors met them in the middle. But as it stands, I find this story troubling.

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