CCCS – Client Services Training Manual THE CLIENT ACCESS SITE Introduction Active clients can access their accounts online The

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CCCS – Client Services Training Manual THE CLIENT ACCESS SITE Introduction Active clients can access their accounts online The Powered By Docstoc
					CCCS – Client Services                                                  Training Manual


Introduction Active clients can access their accounts online. The following section
             describes how clients register and login for the first time.

How clients register and login for the first time:

From, clients click on the                          link on the left side
of the screen
                                  Clients see the following screen.

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To register and/or login:

Clients click on the “Login and review my DMP account” link.

Clients either register or log in.

First-time users must click on the link in the following message.

First time user? Register Now! Click Here!

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The client must complete all fields and click   . The following screen will

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When clients click on                                                        , they are taken
to the Client Access site where they can view account information.

What if a client forgets his password?

When a client enrolls in the Current Clients section of our website, we do not receive
notification of their enrollment and/or password. However, we are able to easily “reset
the password” for our clients. If a client calls asking for his password, tell the client that
you can reset their then complete the following steps:

     Confirm the client number
     Confirm the Social Security number
     Confirm the e-mail address

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Click on the Forgot Password link. The following screen will appear:

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Click on the Register Again link. The following screen will appear:

Change the client‟s password to “PASSWORD.” Tell the client that the password has
been reset to “PASSWORD.” Advise the client to login using this password and to
change it after logging in.

Is our website secure?

YES!!! The following information can be provided to clients to explain that the Client
Access Site is secure:

Our website is run through the Verisign security system

On the bottom Internet toolbar, the yellow lock icon means that you are on a secure

When the client gets to the Logon page the website address changes to The “s” at the end of https stands
“secure” site

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Introduction The most common letter requests are for car loans and mortgages.
             Brandon Donald usually processes these requests. If he is not working,
             an e-mail will be sent advising who is sending letters.

              To send a request:

              Send an e-mail that includes the type of correspondence needed, whose
              attention it should be sent to, and if it should be mailed or faxed.

              Send the e-mail to Brandon or the support leader on duty.

              Requests will be processed within 24 hours.

              We do not do payoff letters. We can add a sentence to a mortgage letter
              stating the estimated payoff.

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Introduction CSRs work closely with many departments. The next section describes
             departments CSRs interact with daily.

Client       Client Retention‟s (RET) goals are to make sure each client makes a
Retention    monthly deposit and to determine the reason for missed deposits. Client
             Retention calls delinquent clients, serves as an intermediary between the
             client and the counselor, sends encouragement and delinquent reminder
             letters, and changes client statuses.

             Client Retention is also responsible for successfully completing a client‟s
             program by verifying creditor balances. After all balances are verified,
             Retention closes the DMP and sends a letter to the client and creditors.

             Before transferring a client to retention or entering a RET tickler:

              Inquire why the client wants to end the DMP.

             CSR: May I ask why you want to withdraw from CCCS?

             Possible answers may include:

             Client wants to pay creditor directly.

              Get details as to why the client want to pay directly and enter along
               with RET tickler

             Refinancing: Find out if client has already paid off creditors. If not,
             inform the client of the following:

             CSR: We would like for you to payoff your accounts through CCCS.
             Would you like to do this?

             If client wants to pay through CCCS:

             Follow the instructions in the Payoff Balance section.

             Cannot afford monthly deposit.

              Find out why the client cannot afford the monthly deposit

              Schedule a review appointment.

              Notate the account.

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Account    Account Management (ACM) calls creditors to resolve problems
Management and issues. CSRs send ACM ticklers, electronic messages, or
           transfers clients directly to a representative for Immediate Account
           Management (IACM).

              Before transferring a client to IACM (ext. 2188) or entering an ACM

               Inquire if the client can spend some time with an account manager
                resolve the matter, provided an account manager is available.

                   CSR: "Ms. Meador, your inquiry will require additional research and
                   follow up to resolve. If you have about 15-20 minutes, I can see if an
                   account manager is available to assist you. If this is not convenient, I
                   can enter a message to have an account manager follow up and
                   contact you within five business days.

                   Client: Yes, I have time.

                   CSR: Can you please hold while I see if we have an account
                   manager available to assist you?"

               Specify which creditors need to be contacted regarding late fees, over
                limit fees, or balance discrepancies. Include creditor number and debt
                number if the client has more than one account with the same

               Review the creditor notes for that creditor because they may explain
                what is happening. For example, a creditor may have rejected a
                proposal because a higher payment is needed.

               Review the payment history to verify payments have been on time
                and no payments are missing.

               Review proposal status. Missed payments may have caused the
                "previously accepted" proposal to become voided.

               Do not promise to waive fees. The account manager will determine if
                CCCS will pay fees once the research is done.

               If the client is calling to find out the status of an ACM tickler, but the
                notes are not clear or if the client feels questions were not answered,
                e-mail the account manager that was working the account and CC:
                Jalona Meador. Please include the client number in the subject field
                and a contact phone number. Also include a summary of what the
                client needs to resolve the issue, or state that the notes were not
                clear. The account manager will contact the client within five business

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Trust Fund   The Trust Fund Operations Department (TFO) is responsible for sending
Operations   creditor payments. Pease review the following Trust Fund Operations
             fact sheet.

                                 Trust Fund Operations FAQ’s

      What is a Q1 disbursement?

      An automated disbursement of client funds. There is no TFO intervention.
      It occurs when the “total amount deposited” is equal to or no more than three
      times the total amount required, and the client has not had a disbursement within
      the past twenty-eight days.

      What is a Q2 disbursement?

      An automated disbursement of client funds that meets the criteria above or
      accounts requiring TFO intervention for the following reasons:

              Partial payment accounts that are not set up on an automated draft.

              Disbursement e-mails prompting special disbursement instructions.

              931 ticklers and reissuing payments (void checks and creditor

              Accounts with total amount deposited exceeding more than three
               times the total amount required.

              The client has not had a disbursement within the past twenty-eight

      What is a Clean-up disbursement?

      TFO reviews every account that has funds in house regardless of the amount or
      ACH status. They also work disbursement e-mails.

      What happens if a client makes more than one payment a month?

              Extra payments will be held until the following month.

              If the extra payment is to cover a missed payment, funds will be
               disbursed during the clean up disbursement unless there is an e-mail
               stating to do otherwise.

      How are extra funds disbursed?

      Extra funds are prorated among all creditors unless there are specific instructions
      stating otherwise.

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      How are partial payments disbursed?

              Matrix creditors and attorneys are given priority.

              Partial payments are prorated among all creditors if matrix creditors
               cannot be paid fully.

      How long can a payment be held?

      By law, a client‟s deposit cannot be held more than thirty days. Payments
      twenty-one days or older will be disbursed or refunded.

      How are overnight payments handled?

      Do not advise clients to overnight payments to the lockbox. This delays payment
      posting because the lockbox does not accept overnight packages and must
      locate the proper department to give the package to.

      Can payments be sent directly to the Edgewood Avenue address?

      With the exception of the Retention Department, no one should advise a client to
      mail or send an overnight payment to our physical address.

      How are client fees and contributions accessed?

      Client fees and contributions, X0001, are assessed each time a client has a
      disbursement. If the client makes two deposits in one month but only disburses
      once, only one fee will be assessed. If a client makes two deposits in one month,
      and we disburse twice, the fee will be assessed twice. Review the
      Fee/Contribution chart to determine the client‟s fees based on state of residence.

      When will automated drafts be drafted?

      Review the agency calendar to determine the client‟s pull date. For example, live
      pull 3 is the date bank drafts will be initiated for all clients who chose the third of
      the month as a draft date.

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      What should I include in a disbursement e-mail?

    Type your request into the disbursement e-mail itself or enter notes into
     disbursement notes and type “see disbursement notes dated 03-09-04.”
     Disbursement notes are visible from the TFO disbursement screen.

    Do not say, “see perm notes” or “see CN notes.” These notes are not visible
     from the disbursement screen.

    Enter the creditor number and debt number, especially if the client has more than
     one creditor with the same name. Creditor numbers and names are visible from
     the disbursement screen.

    Do not type “pay account ending 1234.” Account numbers are not visible from
     the disbursement screen.

    Send a brief request to disburse funds only.

    Do not expect a dialog. If you have a question, please see your manager or
     contact TFO directly.

    Do not copy and paste notes from Host. Copied and pasted notes do not print on
     the e-mail request.

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               LEGAL ISSUES

Introduction Clients who have not been able to pay their creditors may start receiving
             calls from a collection agency. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
             prohibits a debt collector from engaging in certain behavior when
             attempting to collect overdue accounts. However, it does not apply to
             original creditors.

               Clients will know if their debt has been forwarded to a collection agency
               because the new creditor will call or send written notification. CCCS
               clients must mail or fax the new creditor‟s information to have payment
               sent to the correct creditor. Original creditors may assign large balances
               to an attorney rather than a collection agency, especially in Georgia since
               wages can be garnished.


If a collection agency is not successful in collecting a debt, it may assign the debt to an
attorney. The client will be served with a summons to appear in court and will have a
specific amount of time, usually 90 days, to respond to the court. Clients should respond
via certified mail. The response should include a synopsis of the client‟s situation and
intentions: detail attempts to make payment, reason for not paying, proposed payment
amounts, etc. If the client does not respond or appear in court, the creditor will win a
default judgment, possibly enabling the creditor to garnish the client‟s wages.

CSR's and counselors should help clients understand how to answer a summons and
the importance of going to court. Counselors may contact an attorney and try to arrange
DMP payments. The attorney may contact the creditor, find out if the payment is
acceptable, and tell the counselor where the payment should be sent. Never advise
clients to ignore a summons.

Consent Judgment

If the client and attorney make an agreement, this is called a consent judgment. The
attorney may withdraw the summons, which means the client will not have to go to court .
If a consent judgment cannot be reached, the client should appear in court for the
hearing. At the hearing, the client and attorney can hopefully reach and agreement on a
monthly payment. If not, the court may award a judgment to the attorney, enabling the
client wages to be garnished.

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Many times, clients are facing a wage garnishment. The client‟s employer can be
ordered to pay up to twenty-five percent of the client‟s net pay to a creditor. If a
garnishment is in place, the counselor reviews the budget to determine what options are
available. When the budget shows that a client could start a DMP if the garnishment
were not in place, the counselor may contact the attorney to see if it can be dropped so
the client can enter a DMP. It is also possible for a garnishment to be issued against a
bank account.


A creditor with a judgment can file a lien against a client‟s real property (real estate, bank
accounts, etc.). The debt owed will be repaid when the property is sold. The lien will be
lifted when the debt is repaid in full. A client should try to clear up property liens,
especially if he wants to borrow money against the property for home improvements,
debt consolidation, etc.


If a client misses a payment to the lender who financed property such as a vehicle. boat,
etc., the item may be repossessed. Typically, lenders allow the client an opportunity to
catch up on payments and will go ninety days before repossessing. Some creditors will
repossess if one payment is missed. After repossession, the client has ten days to
make arrangements with the lender to get the property back, which may include paying
in full all fees and payments owed.

After ten days, the property may be sold at auction, and the lender will subtract what it
received at auction from the client‟s balance owed. A client can end up owing a residual
(or deficiency) balance if he owes more than is collected at auction. The lender can
pursue collection activity for this balance. The deficiency balance can be placed on a


Divorce is one of the main reasons our clients have financial difficulties. If a client is
going through a divorce, instruct the client to close credit accounts so the spouse cannot
make purchases. If a client has gone through a divorce, pay attention to joint accounts
including mortgage and home equity loans, and credit cards. A creditor may pursue
either party in spite of a divorce decree. A divorce decree does not supersede the
original creditor contract.

The client‟s credit record could suffer if a former spouse does not handle a joint account
responsibly. Divorcees may want to close joint accounts or accounts on which the
former spouse was an authorized user. Alternatively, they may ask the creditor to
convert these accounts to individual accounts.

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By law, a creditor cannot close a joint account because of a change in marital status, but
can do so at the request of either spouse. A creditor, however, does not have to change
joint accounts to individual accounts. The creditor can require that a client reapply for
credit on an individual basis and then, based on the new application, extend or deny
credit. In the case of a mortgage or home equity loan, a lender is likely to require
refinancing to remove a spouse from the obligation.


Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code is entitled “Liquidation." It requires the debtor to
turn over all non-exempt property to the bankruptcy trustee, who then converts it to cash
for distribution to creditors. The debtor receives a discharge of all dischargeable debts.
Some debt such as taxes, student loans, alimony, child support, and criminal
fines, cannot be discharged. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy remains on a credit report for ten
years after the date of filing.

   To file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

    Clients must reside or have domicile, a place of business, or property in the
     United States or a municipality.

    Clients must not have been granted a Chapter 7 discharge within the last six
     years or completed a Chapter 13 plan.

Chapter 13 is entitled “Adjustment of Debts for Individuals with Regular Income.”
It is often called “wage earner.” Debtors pay all or part of their debt though future
income rather than through liquidation or foreclosure of present assets. Chapter 13 is
available only to individuals with regular income whose non-contingent, liquidated
unsecured debts in the state of Georgia are less than $250,000 and whose secured
debts are less than $750,000. Corporations and partnerships are not eligible for Chapter
13. The Chapter 13 debtor‟s income must be regular but can come from sources such
as self-employment, pension, welfare, or alimony. Chapter 13 allows up to five years for
repayment. It remains on the credit report for seven years after repayment.
Remember, we are not bankruptcy experts. Refer clients to other resources for
detailed information.

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Settlement Accounts

A settled account is one in which the client has negotiated with the creditor for a
reduction in the balance owed (i.e. original balance $1000, settlement amount $700). If
a creditor agrees to a settlement, it will usually want the payment in full and will not
accept monthly payments although it may be willing to break the amount into several

On the credit report, the account is usually noted as “settlement accepted.” Clients may
be able to negotiate for this to not be reported or for the actual account to be removed.
Advise clients to get the settlement terms in writing before making a payment. Clients
should also understand that the amount forgiven is usually reported to the IRS as
income, and they may have to pay taxes on this amount. Clients need to deal directly
with creditors to make this kind of arrangement. We help clients to repay the full
amount that they owe and not partial amounts.

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Introduction In this section, you will find answers to frequently asked questions about
             credit practices, laws, and consumer rights.

What are the three major credit reporting agencies?

    Equifax 1-800-685-1111; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

    TransUnion 1-800-916-8800; 760 West Sproul Road, P.O.Box 390, Springfield,
     PA 19064-0390

    Experian (formerly TRW), 1-888-397-3742; P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013

How can I get a free report?

Georgia residents can get two free copies annually from each bureau.

All consumers are entitled to a copy at no charge if:

    they have been denied credit, insurance benefits or employment.

    they are unemployed and plan to look for a job within sixty days.

    they are on welfare.

    they have been a fraud victim.

What is the Equal Credit Opportunity Act?

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act makes it unlawful for any creditor to discriminate
regarding any aspect of a credit transaction for the following reasons:

    on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex,
     marital status, or age.

    because all or part of the applicant's income derives from
     any public assistance program.

    because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right
     under this chapter.

Also, this act requires creditors to provide a consumer notice that tells the specific
reason an application was rejected or to notify the consumer that he can request the
denial reason(s) within sixty days.

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What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), enforced by the Federal Trade Commission,
promotes accuracy and ensures the privacy of information on consumer reports. Recent
amendments to the Act expand consumer rights and place additional requirements on
credit reporting agencies (CRAs). Businesses that supply information about clients to
CRAs and those that use consumer reports also have new responsibilities under the law.

Commonly asked questions about consumer reports and CRAs include:

Why is a delinquent account I paid still on my credit report?

Information, negative or positive, remains on the credit file for at least seven years from
the date of last activity. In this case, the last activity date is the date the account was
paid in full.

How long does information remain on my credit report?

   Paid Credit Accounts: up to 10 years from date the payoff is reported.

   Unpaid Credit Accounts: up to 7 years, however, the date of last activity is
   reactivated if the account is sold to another creditor. It may be reported indefinitely
   by entities collecting or on behalf of original creditor. This happens because the
   account goes back and forth between the original creditor and collection agencies.

        Collection Accounts: up to 7 years from the date of last activity.

        Courthouse Records remain for 7 years except:

        Bankruptcy Chapters: 7, 11 and 13 may remain for 10 years.

           Unpaid tax liens, lawsuits and judgments: remain 7 years or until statute of
           limitations, whichever is longer.

           Paid tax liens: remain up to 7 years from date released.

Information on application for more than $150,000 in credit or insurance: no limit.

Information reported because of an application for a job paying more than
$75,000: no limit.

$150,000 in credit or insurance: no limit.

What is the date of last activity?

The date of last activity is when the last transaction occurred. It is generally the last
payment date, charge off date, payoff date, or date an account was sold to a new

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What does charge off mean? Do I still owe on a charged off debt?

If an account is in charge off status, the account is severely delinquent and has been
written off as a “bad debt.” Regardless of the status, an unpaid debt is the account
holder‟s obligation.

Who is responsible for the debt? It depends on the account type:

    Authorized user: is not responsible.

    Co-signer: is responsible for repayment only if primary party defaults.

    Individual: is solely responsible.

    Joint: both parties are equally responsible

What is an inquiry and how did it get on my credit report?

An inquiry is a listing of the name of a credit grantor or authorized user who has
accessed your credit history. Inquiries are posted so clients know who has obtained
their credit file. Some inquiries are not reported to businesses for credit review. They

    AM or AR: These inquiries indicate a periodic review of credit history by a client‟s
     creditor. Inquiries remain for 6 months.

    PRM: This inquiry means a name and address only were given to a credit grantor
     so it could offer an application for credit. Inquiries remain for 6 months.

       All other inquiries remain on file for two years.

What should I do if I am a fraud victim?

Clients who suspect ANY improper or illegal activity should contact their creditors and
the credit bureaus. Also, they may want to notify local law enforcement agency.

Can my employer get my report?

Only if a client says it is okay. A CRA may not supply information to employers or to
prospective employers without consent.

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Where should I report violations of the law?

Although the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cannot act as a lawyer in private
disputes, information about experiences and concerns is vital to enforcement of the Fair
Credit Reporting Act. Send questions or complaints to:

Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, D.C. 20580.

How do I dispute credit report errors?

Under the FCRA and the CRA, creditors and credit reporting agencies are responsible
for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information. To protect all rights under the law,
clients should contact the CRAs and the creditor.

First, clients should contact the CRA to dispute the information they believe is
inaccurate. They should also include copies (NOT originals) of documents that serve as
evidence and keep copies of the dispute paperwork. CRAs must investigate within thirty
days, unless they consider the dispute frivolous. They also must forward all relevant
data provided about the dispute to the information provider. If the information provider
finds the disputed information to be inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide CRAs so
they can correct this information. Disputed information that cannot be verified must be

        If a report contains erroneous information, the CRA must correct it.

        If an item is incomplete, the CRA must complete it. For example, if a client‟s
         file showed late payments, but failed to show the account was no longer
         delinquent, the CRA must show that the account is current.

        If a report shows an account that belongs to another person, the CRA must
         delete the account.

When the investigation is complete, the CRA must give the client written results and a
free report copy if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or removed, the
CRA cannot put the disputed information back in the file unless the information provider
verifies its accuracy and completeness. The CRA provides a written notice that includes
the name, address, and phone number of the information provider.

Also, if a client requests, the CRA must send notices of corrections to anyone who
received the report in the past six months. Job applicants can have a corrected copy
sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.
If an investigation does not resolve the dispute, ask the CRA to include a statement of
the dispute in future reports.

Second, in addition to writing to the CRA, write the creditor or other information provider
to advise of the dispute. Again, include copies of documents. If the provider then
reports the item to any CRA, it must include a notice of the dispute.

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What can I do if the credit reporting agency (CRA) will not correct information I

An investigation may not resolve a dispute. If so, ask the CRA to include a statement of
the dispute in future credit reports. Refer to the “How to Dispute Credit Report Errors

What is the Fair Debt Collection Act?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat consumers
fairly and prohibits certain methods of debt collection. Of course, the law does not erase
legitimate debt. Commonly asked questions about rights under the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act include:

What is a debt collector?

A debt collector is any person who regularly collects debts owed to others. This includes
attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis.

How may a debt collector contact me?

A collector may contact clients in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax.

Can I stop a debt collector from contacting me?

Clients can stop debt collectors from contacting them by writing a cease letter to the
collector. Once the collector receives the letter, it may not contact the client again except to
say there will be no further contact or to notify that the debt collector or the creditor intends
to take some specific action. Please note that sending such a letter to a collector does not
make the debt go away. The debt collector or original creditor could still sue. A debt
collector may not call a consumer at work if the collector is provided written notice that the
employer disapproves of such contacts.

May a debt collector contact anyone else about my debt?

If a client has an attorney, the debt collector must contact the attorney instead of the client.
Collectors may contact other people but only to find out where a client lives, his telephone
number, or where he works. This is called skip tracing. Collectors usually are prohibited
from contacting such third parties more than once.

What must the debt collector tell me about the debt?

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Within five days after first contact, the collector must send a written notice telling the amount
owed, the name of the creditor, and what action should be taken if the client believes he
does not owe the money.

May a debt collector continue to contact me if I dispute the validity of the debt?

A collector may not contact clients who within thirty days after receiving written notice send
the collection agency a letter stating they do not owe money. However, a collector can
renew collection activities if the client is sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill for the
amount owed.
What types of debt collection practices are prohibited?

    Harassment: Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse clients or any third
    parties. For example, they may not:

         use threats of violence or harm.

         publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay.

         use obscene or profane language.

         repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone.

    False statements: Debt collectors may not use any false or misleading statements
    when collecting a debt. For example, they may not:

         falsely imply they are attorneys or government representatives.

         falsely imply clients have committed a crime.

         falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau.

         misrepresent the amount of debt.

         indicate that papers sent to clients are legal forms unless they are.

         indicate that papers sent to clients are not legal forms when they are.

         send anything that looks like an official document from a court or government
          agency when it is not.

         indicate that clients will be arrested for nonpayment.

         indicate that they will seize wages, garnish wages, attach property, or sell
          property unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so.

         indicate that they will file a lawsuit or take legal action when such action
          legally may not be taken. or when they do not intend to take such action.

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        give false credit information to anyone, including a credit bureau.

        use a false name.

Unfair practices: Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to
collect a debt. For example, collectors may not:

        collect any amount greater than the debt, unless state law permits additional

        deposit a post-dated check early.

        use deception to make clients accept collect calls or pay for telegrams.

        contact clients by postcard.

Can I sue a debt collector if it violates the law?

Clients may sue a collector in state or federal court within one year from the date the law
was violated. If the client wins, he may recover money for the damages suffered plus an
additional amount up to $1,000.

Fair Credit Billing Act

The law applies to “open end” credit accounts such as credit cards, revolving charge
accounts, and overdraft checking accounts. It does not cover installment loans or
extensions of credit repaid on a fixed schedule.

What types of disputes are covered?

The FCBA settlement procedures apply only to disputes about “billing errors.” For

        unauthorized charges (federal law limits client responsibility to $50).

        charges that list the wrong date or amount.

        charges for goods and services not accepted or not delivered as agreed.

        math errors.

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        failure to post payments and other credits, such as returns.

        failure to send bills to the client‟s current address if a change of address is
         given at least twenty days before the billing period ends.

        charges for which clients ask for an explanation or a written proof of

        charges for which clients claimed an error or request clarification.

To take advantage of consumer protection laws, clients must:

        write the creditor at its billing inquiries address and include a name, address,
         account number, and a description of the billing error.

        send the letter so that it reaches the creditor within sixty days after the first bill
         containing the error.

        send the letter by certified mail and request a return receipt as proof of what
         the creditor received.

        include copies (not originals) of supporting sales slips or other documents.

        keep a copy of the dispute letter.

The creditor must acknowledge the complaint in writing within thirty days, unless the
problem has been resolved. The creditor must resolve the dispute within two billing
cycles (but not more that ninety days) after receiving documentation.

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                                     Sample Dispute Letter


                 Your City, State, Zip Code
                 Your Account Number

                 Name of Creditor
                 Billing Inquiries Address
                 City, State, Zip Code

                 Dear Sir or Madam:

                 I am writing to dispute a billing error in the amount of
                 $______on my account. It is inaccurate because (describe
                 the problem). I am requesting that the error be corrected and
                 that any finance or additional charges related to the dispute
                 amount be credited as well. Also, please send an accurate
                 statement. Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence to
                 describe any enclosed information, such as sales slips,
                 payment records) supporting my position.

                 Please investigate this matter and correct the billing error as
                 soon as possible.


                 Your name

                 Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing.)
What happens while my bill is in dispute?

Clients may withhold payment on the disputed amount (and related charges) during the
investigation. They must pay any part of the bill not in question, including finance
charges on the undisputed amount. The creditor may not take any legal or other action
to collect the disputed amount and related charges (including finance charges) during
the investigation. The account cannot be closed or restricted, but the disputed amount
may be applied against the credit limit.

Disputes about the quality of goods and services are not "billing errors," so the dispute
procedure does not apply. However, clients who buy unsatisfactory goods or services
with a credit or charge card can take the same legal actions against the card issuer as
they would take under state law against the seller.

To take advantage of protection regarding the quality of goods or services, clients must:

        have made a purchase for $50 or more.

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        have made the purchase in their home state or within 100 miles of their
         current billing address.

        make a good faith effort to resolve the dispute with the seller first.

Dollar and distance limitations do not apply if:

        the seller is also the card issuer.

        a special business relationship exists between the seller and the card issuer.

Will my credit rating be affected?

The creditor may not threaten a client‟s credit rating or report him as delinquent while the
bill is in dispute. However, the creditor may report the dispute. In addition, creditors
cannot deny credit because of a dispute.

Other billing rights

Businesses that offer "open end" credit must:

    give clients written notice when they open a new account and at certain other
     times send a notice explaining the client‟s right to dispute billing errors.

    provide a statement for each billing period if the client has a balance or if the
     creditor owes the client more than $1.

    send a bill at least fourteen days before the payment is due if the client has a
     period within which to pay the bill without incurring additional charges.

    credit all payments on the date they are received, unless no extra charges would
     result if the creditor failed to do so. Creditors can set reasonable payments rules.
     For example, a creditor may set a time deadline for payments to be received in
     order to be posted on the same date.

    promptly credit or refund overpayments and other amounts owed to an account.
     This applies to instances when the account is owed more than $1. Creditors
     must send refunds to clients within seven business days after receiving a written
     request. They must also make a good faith effort to refund a credit balance that
     has remained on an account for more than six months.

Suing creditors

Clients can sue a creditor who violates the FCBA. If the client wins, he may be awarded
damages plus twice the amount of any finance charge if it is between $100 and $1,000.
The court may order the creditor to pay attorney's fees and court costs.

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Truth in Lending Act

This Act assures a meaningful disclosure of credit terms so consumers will be able to
compare various credit terms available and avoid the uninformed use of credit. It also
protects consumers from inaccurate and unfair credit billing and credit card practices.
The Act requires all creditors that deal with consumers to make certain written
disclosures concerning finance charges and related aspects of credit transactions
(including finance charges expressed as an annual percentage rate) are disclosed.

The Act establishes a three-day right of rescission for transactions involving the
establishment of a security interest in the consumer's residence (with certain exclusions,
such as interests taken in connection with the purchase or initial construction of a
dwelling). The Act also establishes requirements for advertisers of credit terms.

Credit Practices Rule

Under the Rule, creditors cannot:

     require that certain household items and uniquely personal items of significant
      value to a consumer but which have little economic value to a creditor be used as

     permit consumers to agree in advance to wage deductions that would pay the
      creditor directly if a default occurs, unless the agreement can be cancelled at any

     require consumers to give up state-law protections that allow them to keep
      certain personal belongings even if a debt is unpaid.

The Rule requires creditors to provide written notice to consumers before they cosign
obligations for others. The notice must explain the consumer‟s potential liability if the
other person fails to pay. The Rule also covers how late charges may be assessed.

How can late charges be assessed?

A creditor can charge a late fee if loan payments are not paid on time. However, it is
illegal under the Rule for creditors to add late fees or additional charges on a late fee.
This practice is called “pyramiding late fees.” Under the Rule, this means that if a late
fee is not paid with the next regular payment, it is illegal for a creditor to subtract the late
fee from the payment and charge a second late fee because the current payment is
insufficient. But if one month‟s payment is skipped, the creditor can charge late fees on
all subsequent payments until the account is current.

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Establishing a Credit History

There are some basic steps consumers can take to establish credit. They may:

        apply for a credit card issued by a local store and use it responsibly. They
         should ask the creditor if it report to a credit bureau before applying.

        apply for a secured credit card that requires the consumer to open and
         maintain a bank account or other asset account at a financial institution.
         Secured credit cards have higher interest rates than traditional unsecured

        ask someone with established credit to cosign an account if they do not
         qualify for credit on their own.

What is credit scoring?

Credit scoring is a system creditors use to help determine if they should issue credit.
Information about consumers and their credit experiences such as payment history, the
number and type of accounts opened or closed, collection actions, outstanding debt, and
the age of accounts, is collected from credit applications and credit reports. Using a
statistical formula, creditors compare this information to the credit performance of
consumers with similar profiles. Credit scores help predict creditworthiness, how likely
consumers are to repay a loan and to make on-time payments.

What can I do to improve my score?

To improve scores, consumers should pay bills on time, pay down outstanding balances,
and limit applying for new debt. Scores will improve over time.

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              HOUSING TERMS

Introduction Clients who want to purchase a home or who are behind on mortgage
             payments may call asking general housing questions. The following
             section defines common housing terms.

Adjustable rate mortgage loan (ARM): Mortgage loans with interest rates that go up
and down. The rate is usually based on indexes tied to the nation‟s economy.

Amortization: The process of paying off a loan by a schedule of payments for a fixed
time period.

Annual percentage rate (APR): The yearly cost of a mortgage. By law, APRs must
include the interest rate on the mortgage loan, plus finance charges.

Appraisal: An estimate of a property‟s value by a licensed appraiser. Lenders use
appraisals to decide if they will grant a mortgage loan.

Appraiser: A professional who determines the market value of a house or other

Asset: Something of value a consumer owns. Examples include cars, retirement funds,
stocks, bonds, or even furniture.

Buyer’s agent: A real estate agent who works for the buyer of a house, not the seller.

Closing: The meeting during which all paperwork is signed, the loan is closed, and the
new homebuyer gets the key to the house.

Closing costs: Money the buyer and seller pay on the day the sale is closed and
ownership is transferred to the homebuyer. These costs usually are for points, an
appraisal, a survey, insurance, attorney‟s fees, and taxes.

Collateral: Property pledged for the payment of a loan if payments default. For
example, a house is mortgage loan collateral.

Commission: The fee a real estate agent is paid for selling a house. It is usually based
on the purchase price of the home.

Commitment letter: A letter from a lender to a borrower stating a loan amount, interest
rate, and loan terms.

Condominium: An apartment-like home residents can purchase. Residents pay fees to
an association. The association may govern property rules such as where cars may be
parked and noise levels. Fess often cover lawncare, minor maintenance, and
community gatherings.

Contingency: Something that must happen for a real estate purchase or contract to be
valid. For example, a contract may be contingent on the seller repairing the roof.

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Conversion provision: An adjustable-rate mortgage loan feature that allows the
borrower to change to a fixed-rate loan.

Cooperative (Co-op): A community-based housing system in which residents share
common areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. Residents are members of the co-op
and own a share of the property.

Counter-offer: If a seller does not like a buyer‟s offer, the seller can reject the offer or
make a counter-offer.

Creditworthy: A person with good credit, who a lender thinks will repay a loan, is credit

Daily interest: The amount of interest the borrower pays the lender calculated on a
daily basis. It equals the annual interest rate divided by 360 or 365 and multiplied by the
amount of the loan.

Debt-to-income ratio: Percentages lenders use to decide if a loan applicant can afford
to make payments. The ratio compares income with debt.

Deed of trust: A document some localities use in place of a mortgage agreement. The
deed of trust places the property title into a trust for the lender during the term of the

Default: When a borrower does not make loan payments on time or as agreed, the
borrower is in default. The lender may foreclose on the house, sell it, and keep the

Detached house: A single-family house that stands by itself and is not attached to
other houses.

Down payment: Money the borrower has to pay the lender “up-front.” Usually five to
twenty percent of the loan amount.

Earnest money: Money put down to show that the borrower is serious about buying a

Equity: The difference between the market value of a house and the amount owed on
the mortgage loan. The part of the house the borrower owns.

Escrow: A special account a lender deposits part of a homeowner‟s mortgage payment
into. Funds are used for property taxes and insurance. Before closing, a lender may put
papers and documents “in escrow” – that is, with a neutral third party – until closing is
complete and all parties meet the contract terms.

Estate sale: A sale held to sell property when someone dies. Sometimes houses are
sold at estate sales.

Fair Housing Act: A federal law that states which housing and real estate practices are
discriminatory. The law also states in what ways those practices are to be avoided.

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Fair market value: The amount an appraiser decides a house is worth. The appraiser
compares the house with houses like it that have sold recently in the same area. The
physical condition of the house also affects its fair market value.

Fee simple: In this type of home ownership, the house and the land it sits on are owned
by one person or family.

Finance: To supply money for a purchase. Lenders use mortgage loans to finance
home ownership.

Financing: Money that a financial company lends or gives to a buyer for making a

Fixed-rate mortgage loan: A loan with an interest rate that stays the same for the
length of the loan.

Foreclose: To sell a mortgaged property because the owner has not made payments.
The mortgage lender sells the property to make back some of the money that was
loaned out for the house and not repaid.

Good-faith deposit: See earnest money.

Good faith estimate: An estimate of closing costs a lender must give a loan applicant
within three business days of a loan application.

Graduated payments: A mortgage loan with monthly payments that start at a low
amount and then increase slowly over the next seven years. The monthly payments
then remain at the higher amount.

Gross monthly income: See total monthly income.

Hazard insurance: Insurance lenders often require borrowers to buy because it pays
the lender if the house is damaged by hazards such as fire or tornadoes.

Home inspector: A licensed professional who inspects the home and its contents (for
example, appliances, plumbing, and decks) before issuing a report evaluating the
home‟s condition.

Housing expense ratio: The percentage of a person‟s gross monthly income will go
towards a mortgage loan payment plus interest, property taxes, and insurance. Lenders
use this ratio to decide whether or not to grant mortgage loans.

Installment debt: Debts or accounts paid off in monthly payments or installments, such
as credit card accounts.

Interest: A fee charged for borrowing money.

Lien: A legal claim on a property that must be paid before a property can be sold.

Listing agent: A real estate agent who lists a house for sale. The listing agent
represents the seller.

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Listings (Multiple listing service/MLS): A computerized information pool shared by
real estate agents that lists homes for sale.

Loan to value ratio (LTV): The loan balance on a house compared to the appraised
value. Lenders use the LTV to show that a house is worth more than the loan amount.
This is important because if the homeowner does not make payments on the mortgage
loan, the bank gets the house as payment.

Maturity: The date when an agreement or obligation is completed.

Monthly housing costs: The total of home expenses including the loan payment and
expenses for utilities, general home repair, and upkeep.

Mortgage: A legal document that shows the loan terms and gives a lender the right to
take a borrower‟s house if the borrower does not make payments.

Nontraditional credit history: A credit history used by applicants who do not have a
traditional credit history. Receipts, bills, and check stubs from landlords, utility
companies, child-care providers, and other sources are used.

Note: A document showing a promise to repay a loan.

Offer: A purchase proposal stating the amount a buyer would pay for the house and
other conditions that would have to be met before the proposed sale.

Origination: The process a lender goes through to get complete and correct
information about a loan applicant‟s income and credit.

Per diem interest: See daily interest.

PITI: Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.

Planned unit development: A housing development in which common areas, such as
parks or building lobbies, are owned and maintained by a residents‟ association.

Point: A one-time charge the lender adds to a mortgage loan. Each point is one
percent of the loan amount.

Prequalification/ Prequalify: An initial step in the loan process in which a lender gives
an idea of the maximum loan amount available based on information the customer
provides about income, debts, selling purchase price, etc. Determines the loan amount
a person can get before a loan application is made.

Principal: The loan amount before interest and fees are added.

Private mortgage insurance/ PMI: Insurance that repays a loan if the borrower

Probate sale: A sale held to sell property, including houses, of a person who has died.

Promissory note: See note.

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Property inspection: Examination of a house by a licensed inspector to see if its
structure is sound and if its mechanical systems such as plumbing and heating are

Security: See collateral.

Semi-detached house: A house that is attached to another house, such as a duplex or

Settlement: See closing.

Settlement attorney: A lawyer who organizes the closing on a house sale by preparing
papers, paying fees, and conducting the settlement meeting between seller and buyer.

Survey: A drawing or map showing a property‟s boundaries, measurements, places the
property may have been improved or changed, rights of way, and other physical

Tax assessor: A government employee who determines a property‟s value for tax

Term: The length of a loan or period of time over which it is to be repaid. A 30-year
mortgage loan has a 30-year term.

Terms: A contract‟s conditions.

Title: A legal document naming the property owners.

Title insurance: Insurance that pays for loss to a buyer or seller that could occur if the
title or proof of ownership, is wrong, unclear, or has legal claims against it.

Title search: A check of legal records to make sure a title does not have liens against it.
Usually done by a title company or lawyer.

Total monthly debt: The total amount of credit card, car loan, and other debt payments
a person must pay each month. Used to figure debt-to-income ratios.

Total monthly income: The amount of money that comes into a household every
month from a job, interest, dividends, alimony, disability payments, or public assistance.
Lenders use the total monthly income to decide how much house payment an applicant
can afford.

Truth in lending statement: A document that discloses to the borrower all costs
involved in making and closing a loan. The lender is required to provide this within three
business days of the loan application. For home loans, this statement may be revised
just before closing because it is based on a good faith estimate of closing costs.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): A federal agency
responsible for managing many of the nation‟s housing programs and for protecting the
rights of homebuyers, homeowners, sellers, and renters.

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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): A federal agency responsible for programs
for inactive service members.

Underwriting: The process of analyzing a borrower‟s finances and credit to decide
whether or not to make a loan. The underwriter is the person who has loan approval

Verification: The process of verifying that all of a borrower‟s loan application
information is accurate.

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Introduction Some clients need help CCCS cannot provide. We refer these clients to
             service agencies. Please refer to the „‟Resources” handouts in your
             Desktop Reference book. Motivate clients to take advantage of services
             And show them they do have choices even with limited income.


Introduction The following section answers some of the most frequently asked

What is the Debt Management Plan and how does it work?

For consumers who find themselves overextended, CCCS offers assistance in designing
a debt repayment program. Under the DMP, CCCS proposes a monthly payment (in
some cases, an amount lower than a required minimum payment), elimination or
reduction of interest and other related fees. Clients will send monthly deposits to cover
payment of debts included in the plan. CCCS will disburse funds to creditors and send
proposals. Creditors will review proposals and accept or reject payment terms.

How is my DMP deposit amount determined?

The deposit is determined by a creditor matrix and the client‟s debt balances. For
example: ABC Company‟s balance = $3000.00 and DEF Store‟s balance = $1500.00.
Under a DMP, ABC requires 2% of the balance which = $60.00 and DEF requires 1.5%
of the balance which = $22.50. The deposit includes each creditor‟s proposed payment
amount plus a disbursement fee if applicable.

What type of debt is included on a DMP?

Generally, unsecured debt is included on a plan. Unsecured debt is not secured by
collateral. Credit cards, collection accounts, unsecured loans, student loans, and IRS
tax debt can be included on a DMP. IRS debt cannot exceed $10,000. Clients may also
include closed utility accounts that are more than six months old and have balances of
$50 or more.

Can a deficiency balance on a repossessed auto be included on a DMP?

Yes, and the debt is placed in collections if unpaid.

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I received my DMP packet, what do I need to return?

    Agreement for Service Form: Clients must sign. If a joint account is included,
     both parties need to sign.

    Most recent statements/bills: Clients who are missing statements must submit
     a completed Creditor Information Form.

    First payment: In the form of a check or money order.

    ADS Enrollment Form: If the client wants to set up a bank draft, he must return
     the complete form and a voided check or savings deposit slip.

    Form 8821: Must be included if an IRS debt is on the DMP.

All documents must be received to setup the client‟s DMP.

My paperwork was mailed last week, and I am receiving calls from my creditors.
Have you contacted my creditors?

Advise the client that all proposals will be mailed within five days after the first payment
and paperwork are received. Clients should allow creditors a minimum of two weeks to
process proposals. No account terms will change until proposals are accepted. Client
accounts will show past due if our payment is less than the minimum due or if it will not
reach the creditor before the due date. Clients can pay the creditor to keep the account
from reporting past due while the account is being set up. They may also refer creditors
to CCCS.

If I filed bankruptcy, can I set up a DMP?

No. The client must have the bankruptcy discharged or dismissed before a DMP can be
set up. Budget counseling is available for consumers who are currently under a

If I am unemployed, can I set up a DMP?

Clients need verifiable income to set up a DMP. Unemployment compensation is
temporary income. Clients may use alimony, pensions, Social Security, etc.

Can I negotiate the terms (interest rate, payment, etc) with my creditors directly?

Yes. Some creditors will adjust interest rates or set up a debt repayment plan with a
customer depending on the status of the account and company policies.

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Will CCCS negotiate a settlement on an account for a lower balance?

No. Clients should deal directly with creditors to negotiate settlements. CCCS helps
clients repay the full amount owed by reducing the interest or monthly payment.

What happens to my money when an account is paid off?

CCCS divides extra money among all remaining creditors once an account is paid off.

How will the DMP affect my credit?

There is a possibility that entering a Debt Management Plan can have an adverse effect on
a client‟s credit rating. Many creditors may report an account as under budget counseling or
as “past due” until the balance is paid. However, the credit score is not affected.

Why will my creditors work with you and not me?

Creditors are willing to work with a Debt Management Agency instead of negotiating directly
with a consumer for varying reasons. Most creditors refer clients to CCCS because we
provide debt and money management education.

Why do you charge a fee?

Fees help cover DMP administration costs and are based on state laws.

What is a nonprofit organization?

A non-profit organization is one that is not conducted or maintained for the purpose of
making a profit. Community service is the basis of non-profits.

What is the NFCC?

The National Foundation for Consumer Counseling is the nation‟s oldest and largest
non-profit organization providing budgeting and credit counseling. CCCS of Greater
Atlanta is a member of the NFCC.

How is CCCS funded?

CCCS funding comes from creditor, government, business, and individual contributions
as well as DMP fees. Clients who live in non-fee states can make tax-deductible

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What is CCCS’ relationship with Larry Burkett and Crown Ministries?

Larry Burkett, now deceased, of Christian Financial Concepts and Consumer Credit
Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta established a partnership to provide consumers
education on debt and money management. Crown refers clients who may need a DMP
or housing counseling to CCCS.

Can CCCS help re-establish credit?

Upon satisfactory completion of the plan and at the time of the exit appointment,
counselors furnish clients with the names of creditors who may be willing to re-establish
credit. In addition, existing creditors may be willing to reinstate a client‟s charge

What does “payment in-house” mean?

Funds have been received by CCCS and are available on the client‟s account.

Can CCCS give out personal client information?

CCCS‟ privacy policy prohibits releasing a client‟s personal information. We can verify
information only.

Can we update a creditor’s address over the phone?

No. A creditor‟s new payment address must be sent in writing to the Edgewood address
or faxed to Brandon or Client Services.

What do you do when a creditor cannot identify a check?

If a check has not been cashed over a reasonable time period, usually thirty days, it is
possible for the check to be stopped then reissued. We must first verify that the check
has not been cashed.

What if a company does not do business with CCCS?

In the event that a creditor does not accept a proposal, the client will be contacted.
Further proposals may be made or the client can remove the debt and make
arrangements with the creditor.

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How can I change a due date with my creditors?

Clients must call creditors and ask that due date be changed to reflect their CCCS due
date. Example: If a client‟s ACH is due on the1st, the client‟s payment will disburse
between the 9th and 12th. The client should ask the creditor to change the due date to a
date that will allow it to receive and post the payment. Some creditors disregard due
dates and want a payment every thirty days.

Can a creditor not return or deny a proposal?

Yes. That is why we ask clients to follow up with creditors or CCCS at least thirty days
after proposals have been sent. If repeated attempts to contact the creditor by mail,
phone, or fax result in no response, send an ACM tickler asking an account manager to
follow up, or advise the client to call the creditor to see if it will accept a proposal.

Can a creditor garnish my wages without previous notice?

A creditor must notify the client‟s payroll or personnel department before garnishing

What do I do if I receive a summons, judgment, or garnishment letter?

See the Legal section.

What is the maximum percentage a creditor can garnish from my wages?

A creditor can garnish twenty-five percent of a client‟s net income.

Can CCCS stop or overturn a garnishment?

No. CCCS does not have the power to stop a creditor from garnishing wages.
However, we still attempt to negotiate payment arrangements, which may cause the
creditor to cease the garnishment.

What happens if the creditor’s balance differs from CCCS’ balance and all
payments have been received?

CCCS statements are estimated balances and may not reflect added fees. Clients must
update balance differences of $50 or more. Clients must also call creditors for a payoff
balance and give us the payoff amount before we send the creditor‟s final payment.

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What happens when I miss payments or pay late?

Missed and late payments can result in possible termination from the program either by
the creditor or by CCCS. Creditors may charge late fees, add finance charges, and
report this delinquency to the credit bureau. It is in the client‟s interest to contact CCCS
and the creditor whenever a payment will be missed or late.

Why is it so important not to apply for additional credit while on a DMP?

Open lines of credit may put clients further into debt if they continue to charge.
Remember that clients seek CCCS‟ assistance because they are overwhelmed with
making their current payments. Also, creditors may terminate clients who apply for
unsecured credit.

Why should all creditors be included on the DMP?

Creditors work with CCCS because they know that they will be treated fairly and equally.
If a creditor notices that a client is able to handle another creditor‟s debt directly, then
that creditor may feel that their account can be handled directly as well.

Will I still receive statements from the creditors?

Yes. In most cases, the client will receive monthly statements from the creditor unless
the credit has been written off as a bad debt. It is highly recommended that the client
compare the creditor‟s statement to CCCS‟ statement. The client must verify that all
payments and credits have posted. Clients can call and request statements from

Can a creditor pick up a disbursement check by courier?

Yes. A check can be picked up at the creditor‟s expense.

Does CCCS handle student loans?

CCCS will include defaulted student loans on the DMP. However, the payment usually
doubles because we allow less repayment time.

How can I contact the Department of Education?

Federal: (800) 621-3115

Georgia: (404) 562-6012

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Can I get a checking or savings account with bad credit?

There are banking institutions that offer education programs, which entitle clients to open a
probationary bank account without pulling a credit report.

What is Chex Systems, and how does it work?

Chex Systems, Inc. is comprised of member financial institutions that contribute
information on mishandled checking and savings accounts to a central location.
ChexSystemsSM shares this information among member institutions to help them assess
the risk of opening new accounts. ChexSystemsSM only shares information with the
member institutions and does not decide on new account openings.

Is an authorization necessary to release information to a mortgage company?

Any information released must be requested in writing with the client‟s approval or
verbally if the client calls and requests that information be given to a lender.
In most cases, the lender will be asked to fax or mail an authorization letter to CCCS
before any information can be released.

How long will I have to be on the plan before I can get a mortgage or car loan

Client should establish a six to twelve month payment history with CCCS before a
counselor will authorize a mortgage or car loan letter. The payment history can be
provided upon request.

Can I drop off a payment at one of the satellite offices?

No. If a client is not set up on ADS, all payments must be mailed to the payment center.

Will it benefit me to send a payment by express or next day delivery?

Sending a payment by express or next day delivery will not guarantee a payment will
post the next day. Regardless of regular or express mail, clients must allow up to five
business days for a payment to post. Overnight payments actually delay processing.

Can I pick up a refund check at the Atlanta office?

A manager must approve. The client will be able to pick up the check at the front desk
of the Atlanta location. The client must call the office to verify that the check is ready.

Revised 04-30-2005                                                                       184

Description: Creditor Garnish Income Tax Refund Irs document sample