Newly Blended Trade Association Moves Forward in Debt Relief Industry

It’s always nice to see groups in the debt relief industry come together for the greater good. Effective in the early hours of 2016, two trade groups, mostly representing credit counseling organizations, decided to merge to become something bigger and better.

The Association of Credit Counseling Professionals, Inc., known as ACCPros, and the Financial Counseling Association of America, formerly the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, are now one. The merged entity will operate under the FCAA name, with Kevin Weeks continuing as FCAA president and Lori Pollack as the new executive director.

What I really appreciate about this new entity is it is an inclusive organization that welcomes debt relief groups other than just nonprofit organizations. Under the FCAA umbrella, both taxable non-profits and for-profit debt relief companies can apply for membership.

The new organization will have stricter monitoring standard for all members and strong client centric standards, the most stringent in the industry they claim.

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The consumer focused standards will require members to agree to and engage in rigorous best practices. All agencies will have to continue to adhere to all of their applicable state and federal regulations.

I’ve long felt there needs to be room for companies without a nonprofit agenda to block alternative companies. In general the debt relief industry can benefit from any organization, regardless of tax status, that offers a professional service and can provide independent advice that is not strictly program specific.

“Both trade associations have shared information over the past 12 months that has helped many of our members, and in at least one instance, the credit counseling industry in general,” said Pollack. “We are excited to continue that work and bring it to the forefront so all can benefit.”

“The merger gives FCAA a stronger voice to promote industry best practices, provide forums to share industry trends, present a united voice to creditors, regulators and legislators, and most importantly, do our very best to advocate for our members and consumers,” said Weeks.

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And for organizations and consumers to have an alternate voice to hear from, other than just NFCC (National Foundation for Credit Counseling) is good for all. This is not a field that should be dominated by just one voice that excludes groups other than just 501(c)(3) non-profit corporations.

“We have always appreciated the support the creditors have shown FCAA, ACCPros and all of our member agencies,” said Pollack. “We look forward to continuing that work to ensure the consumer gets the best help possible.”

Let’s hope the new organization can help creditors see why bumping up the fairshare funding without putting additional collection pressures on agencies would be a good move.

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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.
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