When you think about your financial history, is there anything in your past—or your present—that makes you cringe? If so, you’re not alone. When the experts at Debt.com surveyed 1,300 consumers earlier this year, financial regret emerged as a common theme. In fact, a full 44 percent of respondents regretted running up or maxing out their credit card balances and hurting their credit score.
Other financial regrets cited by the surveyed consumers included missing payments and damaging their credit score (23 percent), letting debts go into collections (19 percent), draining money from savings accounts (18 percent) and taking funds out of retirement accounts for non-retirement expenses (7.5 percent).
Fortunately, a bright financial future is still possible for these consumers and those like them. RewardExpert spoke with Debt.com’s Chairman, Howard Dvorkin, about his history in the credit counseling industry, the inspiration behind the company, and how it’s helping consumers tackle their checkered financial pasts to secure better lives for themselves and their families.
Built to Help as Many Consumers as Possible
To say Dvorkin is an expert in personal finance would be an understatement. A certified CPA, former president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA), and founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Dvorkin had 25 years of experience in accounting, debt restructuring and credit counseling before the launch of Debt.com. But he wanted to do more.
“Credit counseling agencies offer debt management,” Dvorkin explained. “That’s their only product. It’s an excellent product for the right person, but it’s not appropriate for everybody. Some people might need debt settlement. They might need bankruptcy. They might need their credit cleaned up. They might need help with their student loans or their taxes. Credit counseling agencies aren’t prepared to help those consumers because they can’t offer any services other than debt management. So, at the end of the day, we could only help 10 percent of the people who called us. We had to turn the rest of the people away.”
Debt.com was built to “help as many people as we possibly can,” Dvorkin continued. “We are an informational and referral site that provides education and connects consumers with debt-solutions companies that can help with credit card, student loan and tax debt as well as bankruptcy, collections, money management and more.”
Judgement-Free Education and Advice
Dvorkin said the consumers who visit Debt.com for help are people who want to fulfill their financial obligations.
“When I first started in this industry, everybody would ask how you build a business around people who don’t want to pay their bills,” he said. “But that’s anything but the truth. The people who seek us out want to pay their bills. They just need a clear path for doing so, whether that’s through simple education, a little advice, or a referral to a service provider to accelerate their journey to become debt-free.”
Dvorkin stressed that many people suffering crippling debt got there due to unavoidable circumstances.
“It might have been the loss of a job or they had a baby,” he noted. “Maybe they bought a house or have been unemployed or underemployed. Some of them may be reckless spenders, of course. But reckless spending could be the result of not receiving enough education on how to run their finances.”
A Trusted Consumer Advocate
According to Debt.com’s website, 8 out of 10 Americans are facing consumer debt challenges, from the 44 million who owe over $1.38 trillion in total student loan debt to the 157 million currently carrying credit card balances that total more than $1 trillion.
If you’re among them, using Debt.com’s education and referral service is simple, whether you choose to contact the company by phone or email, or navigate your way through the website. Website visitors can choose from options including credit card debt, student loans, owed taxes and credit repair to learn more. Answer a few questions about your situation and Debt.com will connect you with a service provider specializing in your circumstance.
Dvorkin, who has helped to design membership criteria and accreditation processes for several agencies and accrediting groups, said that Debt.com’s standards for their member partners are extremely high.
“We make sure we are in compliance with every standard we can find and have matched—if not exceeded—the membership criteria of other organizations when choosing our service providers,” he added.
Debt.com does not earn a commission when referring consumers to service providers, either.
“We’re a trusted advocate for the consumer,” Dvorkin noted. “We don’t make money by referring one partner over another. We simply want to give the best possible solutions to the consumers who reach out to us. A lot of the time, they don’t even need to be referred out. They just need some education or advice. That’s what we’re going to provide them fairly and honestly.”
With new Money Tips and personal finance education articles added every week, Dvorkin hopes that Debt.com will become “the go-to source for people who need financial advice and financial assistance.”
“We want to become the gold standard: one voice with a great reputation, run by people who know what they are doing and aren’t here to make a quick buck,” he concluded.