If you're like millions of Americans, you've got some serious debt problems. The average household with credit card debt owes more than $8,000 -- and that's just the average amount. Many, many people owe tens of thousands.
Those who find themselves in such a situation have a few options. There's bankruptcy, for one. But it has some drawbacks, as you might imagine. One longtime resource has been "credit counseling" agencies, which are typically classified as nonprofits. These, too, have some drawbacks -- some of which our credit expert, Dayana Yochim, touched on in her article "Credit Counseling Crisis." (The drawbacks include shady behavior and scams engaged in by some -- though not all -- of these agencies.)
Traditionally, these outfits got much of their moolah from credit card issuers, such as Citigroup
Some changes are afoot, though. The IRS has recently informed several credit-counseling agencies that they don't qualify as tax-exempt -- they can't call themselves "nonprofits." The Coalition for Responsible Credit Practices (CRCP) sees this as the tip of an iceberg and is expecting that many, if not most, such agencies will receive the same treatment. In other words, the entire industry may soon be turned on its head -- or it may disappear, replaced by something else.
The CRCP would actually like to see something else emerge -- a new class of for-profit financial professionals without close ties to the credit-issuing industry. For this to emerge, though, some laws and regulations will have to change in many states. And in the meantime, those in debt may end up with fewer options.
What's a debt-ridden Fool to do? Consider taking matters into your own hands. You can dig yourself out of debt, and we're here to guide and support you. Drop by our Credit Center for more info, and check out our free seminar found there.
Learn more about developments and proposals at www.responsiblecreditpractices.com. And share your thoughts on our Consumer Credit / Credit Cards discussion board. Or just drop by to see what others are saying. That board is full of people who've dug themselves out from tens of thousands of dollars of debt -- permit them to inspire you!
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.