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.
Do You Have a Question You'd Like Steve to Answer? Click Here.
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.
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.
I can always use your help. If you have a tip or information you want to share, you can get it to me confidentially if you click here.