Ask the Debt Management Expert – Ken Rowan

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What to ask a debt management professional

You can hang up a shingle and call yourself a credit counsellor.  Is this scary?

If you need help with your finances, eventually you are going to get some advice.  Maybe you sought it out, or perhaps a friend referred you to someone.  Whoever they are, to make sure you can trust them, ask these questions.

Certification – Do you have a licence or a certificate that shows you are skilled at debt management, and that you are regulated by a professional body?  If “yes”, they will show it to you.  If they don’t then they probably won’t answer your question.

Cost – What will you charge me for this and any future advice? How do you calculate your fee?  A Licensed Insolvency Trustee will not charge you to discuss and explore your options.

Service – What service can you actually provide to me?  Can you stop a law suit or a garnishment?  How?  What about my income tax debt? My student loan?  If they have no certification just how are they going to settle any debt at all?

Who – Are there any circumstances where you might refer me out to another person or organization?  – If they will be referring you out, be sure you are still comfortable paying any fee.

Asset valuation – How will you fairly value my real estate, my RESP, my automobiles, my jewelry, my timeshare, my company, my shareholder’s loan ……? A credit counsellor might fail to properly assess your assets.  Creditors need to know whether any proposal you make is fair and they can demand this type of information.  Beware of false appraisals and “don’t worry about it” that might later impinge upon your integrity.

Why you – Why should I deal with you?  What experience do you have? What are you particularly good at? You have to ask yourself about website testimonials.  Your name and financial details are extremely personal.  Is it okay if they are on the web?  Can you trust any smiley “testimonial” or is it just a sales pitch?

From the answers to these questions, you need to ask yourself if that counsellor is right for you, and if you can trust them.

You need not worry if you deal with a licensed professional – a trustee in bankruptcy, now called a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.

Contact me if you need help, or you want to share a story about your experience with a credit counsellor.  Sssshhhh!  Don’t tell them about ….” has been known to backfire.

604-430-4188, www.BurnabyDebtHelp.ca.