GOBankingRates spoke to Consolidated Credit’s Director of Education and Corporate Communications about managing debt from 2020. April Lewis-Parks had this advice for consumers looking to get out of any debt they piled up last year: "Always payoff the highest APR debt first to make the most of your money."Read More
Certified Credit Counseling with a Focus on Financial Education
In over 27 years, Consolidated Credit has helped over 10 million people find relief from credit card debt to achieve real financial stability
“Without financial education, financial stability is just a dream,”
– Gary Herman
Credit card debt problems are running rampant in the U.S. today. Americans owe more than $950 billion, and we just keep adding more every year. But the truth is that most people aren’t taking on debt because they’re irresponsible. These days, most credit card debt comes from challenges like lack of income, emergency expenses, and out-of-pocket medical bills.
That’s why we believe that solving people’s challenges with credit card debt today requires more than just a program that can help them become debt-free. True financial stability takes education and application, and that’s what we help our customers do. Consolidated Credit is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit credit counseling agencies and we’ve spent over a quarter of a century helping people find financial freedom
Consolidated Credit’s mission: To assist families throughout the United States to end financial crises and solve money management issues through education and professional counseling.
27 Years of Financial Education
Consolidated Credit opened its doors 27 years ago to provide personalized, nonprofit certified credit counseling services to people facing challenges with debt. The idea was simple: Help consumers overcome their current challenges with debt and build better financial strategies to avoid debt in the future.
“You make one call to Consolidated Credit and here’s what happens,”
“Freedom! (Freedom!) All across America people are celebrating their freedom from credit card debt they’re using Consolidated Credit.”
“Consolidated Credit when debt is the problem, we are the solution.”
“The debt suckers Hi-Rate and Hi-Pay are everywhere. Because Debt sucks!”
“Hi, my name is Gary Herman, President of Consolidated Credit and I’m proud to announce that we’re going to continue to be here for as long as the community needs us, and we thank everybody for your support.”
-Gary Herman, President of Consolidated Credit
“If you’re not working on a budget get to a place like consolidated credit.”
– Barnaby Robles, Branch Manager Wells Fargo Mortgage
“When you work with Consolidated Credit there are ways to improve your credit score.”
– Gregory T. Gentille, Vice President, Producing Sales Manager, Suntrust Mortgage, Inc.
“I’ve been working with Consolidated Credit. I’ve had them come out to the school do special programs for our veterans.”
– Oscar Feliciano, Associate Director of Military and Veterans, Broward College
“I’ve been encouraging them to sign up for homebuyers’ education class, you guys offer the 8-hour class.”
– Evett M. Francis, Community Access and Engagement, Fannie Mae
“Homeowners, but also in how we market financial products and how we really think about the stability of a family really over the long run.”
– Eric Selk, Executive Director, New Hope Alliance
“Having tools like this is very important to everyone I mean whether it’s our members or not, I think it’s really important to get that out there and try to educate as much as we can.”
– Lori Cooke, We Florida Financial
“You folks do a phenomenal job, and it’s so important to educate everybody plus our men and women that serve our country.”
– Peter Caspari, Employer Outreach Director, U.S. Department of Defense
Consolidated Credit’s outreach efforts started with the creation of free financial publications with five fundamental titles and now has expanded to over 40 publications in English and 15 in Spanish.
Credit Dojo is an interactive 16-part financial education course that puts a fun spin on basic financial literacy topics to help engage the audience. It allows users to work at their own pace to truly grasp the information.
Consolidated Credit offers free monthly financial webinars that covers seasonal and trending topics live webinars give a user the opportunity to interact with a financial coach and the on demand allows people to learn around their busy schedules.
In the past 25 years we have helped over 6 million people our debt management program rules multiple debts into a single consolidated repayment schedule our certified credit counselors help consumers to see where their money is being spent, teach them how to budget, and negotiate with creditors to reduce or eliminate interest rates, as well as stop penalties and fees.
Consolidated Credit has been serving the Hispanic community in the United States in Puerto Rico for over 15 years. They offer a full Spanish website with specific content to help Hispanics with personal finances in video format webinars social media presence and articles tailored to the Hispanic community.
Consolidated Credit is a pioneer in financial education launching its first website in 1998 from then to now their focus has been to spread information and tools that help people become financially stable and prosper. Innovation and ease of use has been key and Consolidated Credit being successful.
Consolidated Credit is approved by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide housing counseling personal attention from HUD certified counselors teach consumers financial concepts and how to assess their financial picture to enable them to take the steps to fulfill the American dream of homeownership.
Education is offered in person and online making the program’s accessible to the masses often the options solutions and advice counselors provide can mean the difference between success as a homeowner and foreclosure.
Consolidated Credit’s business product is KOFE which stands for Knowledge of Financial Education. The financial wellness online platform builds on consolidated credits 25 years of counseling experience to provide a two-part approach to financial education through a combination of self-help resources tools and interactive features combined with one-on-one financial coaching users can build a strong foundation that leads to long-term financial stability.
Consolidated Credit employees say:
“5 years, 1 year, Over 20 years, 15 years, 3 and a half years, 17 years, a year and a half, 3 years, 19 years, 10 years, 6 years, 3 years, 20 years, 11 years, 10 years, 17 years, 22 years.”
“I work with great people they’re always supporting of me.”
“We help millions of people get out of financial debt.”
“It’s a great working environment. The opportunities there are so many angles has so many facets to what we do.”
“I love what we do, and I believe in what we do.”
“You don’t feel alone your part of an organization that values you and respects you.”
“I spend nine hours here you know, you get close to these people you really do.”
“Everybody is very friendly it’s a great camaraderie a lot of teamwork everyone’s very willing to help.”
“It’s very lively. We have a lot of longevity.”
“Here at Consolidated, we are a family.”
Advocating for consumers since 1993
It’s our job to be advocates for every client we work with. We’re not here to judge. We’re here to help our clients become debt-free, by being a negotiator and a liaison with their creditors and a support system if they run into any trouble. That’s our core philosophy. We’re constantly looking for new ways to help people find better ways to deal with their debt, credit and money.
As the nation’s largest nonprofit credit counseling agency, Consolidated Credit has counseled over 10 million people who have faced challenges with credit card debt. We continue to be a leader in financial education, providing over 300 hours of education through workshops, webinars, and wellness fairs each year.
In 2008 when the housing market collapsed, we added a housing counseling department to help homeowners find solutions to avoid foreclosure. Our director worked with HUD and the FHA to establish programs like the Florida Hardest Hit Fund to help people avoid foreclosure, in spite of the high unemployment rates brought on by the Great Recession.
Financial education partnerships
Consolidated Credit is proud that we’ve partnered with over 500 nonprofit organizations, municipal groups, and government agencies to bring financial education to the people who need it most. We work with organizations like the United Way to help low-income families learn the skills they need to become financially stable. These partnerships allow us to provide financial literacy education to the underserved communities that need it most.
[On-screen text] United Way of Broward County
Kathleen Cannon, United Way of Broward County CEO: I would definitely recommend somebody to Consolidated Credit. Folks get into a great deal of difficulty with debt. So, they start charging on their credit cards, they’re overextended and that they don’t realize how long it really takes to get out of that predicament.
So, Consolidated Credit is one of the things, that you really come in and help people move past their debt. United Way, we work with our funded partners, our other nonprofits and often what we do is work with those organizations to bring Consolidated Credit in, so that Consolidated Credit can do seminars and workshops with the staff of those agencies.
And we have found that all of our partners working in nonprofit, we’re so busy taking care of clients and consumers and the community that sometimes we forget about taking care of ourselves. I know folks who have been tumbling out of control. It’s one call and they felt better. They came in, they met with people and worked through the coaching and really got great assistance. And I know that those folks have referred people as well.
If together we can work with our residents who are struggling, those residents will eventually become financially stable, will be consumers of service, will open businesses, will be blossoming and blooming. So, the synergy between United Way and Consolidated Credit is really community oriented.
- S. Army OneSource and the Department of Defense at Southern Command work closely with Consolidated Credit provide financial education outreach to military Service Members and Veterans.
- Our staff works closely with Junior Achievement local school districts in South Florida to provide financial education to youth.
- We host and attend over 300 workshops and wellness fairs each year and offer free monthly webinars that cover a variety of financial topics.
Why we focus on financial education
What we’ve learned in 27 years of credit counseling is that most financial challenges are rooted in the same thing. Most of us never learned about personal finance and how to make good, strategic decisions with our money when we were young. As a result, we all basically learn by trial and error. But financial errors cost people their money, their credit and the years it can take to recover.
So, while Consolidated Credit’s debt management program can help people get out of debt, the key to helping them stay that way is financial education. By learning how to budget, save, break credit dependence, and set achievable goals, people can meet the financial challenges they face.
We also strive to make financial education as fun, easy and as engaging as possible. From personal finance tips on people’s favorite social networks, to contests that give you a little incentive to learn.
Fostering financial wellness in the workplace
Consolidated Credit created the Financial Wellness in the Workplace program to help employers provide financial education to their employees. From simple self-help publication libraries in office buildings, this program evolved into a full-scale benefits platform known as KOFE (Knowledge of Financial Education).
KOFE takes a three-prong approach to building financial literacy. It’s the same strategy we use to help our members. Through a combination of online resources, classroom learning, and one-on-one coaching, anyone can learn how to manage their money effectively. Today, KOFE is used by private corporations, municipal agencies, school districts, financial institutions, and insurers to help their employees, members, constituents, and customers learn how to achieve and maintain long-term financial stability.
Meet our team
Our leadership team collectively has over a century of experience in helping people achieve freedom from debt while building financial literacy. Click on the pictures below to learn more about each member.
Certified credit counselors
All of Consolidated Credit’s credit counselors are certified debt management professionals that maintain a strict code of ethics. When people first contact us, they work one-on-one with a member of this team to find the right solution and set up a budget.
Client services representatives that really care
Once someone enrolls in a debt management program, our client services representatives (CSRs) are here to make sure everything goes smoothly. They answer questions and help members stay on track.
HUD-approved housing counselors
From helping first-time homebuyers overcome the hurdles of achieving home ownership, to helping homeowners avoid foreclosure and understand their equity, our HUD-approved housing counseling team helps people secure their part of the American Dream.
Women often face disproportionate earnings and heavy debt burdens. Due to workplace discrimination and family obligations, women can struggle to build wealth. April Lewis-Parks, Director of Education and Communications at Consolidated Credit, talks to CreditCards.com about the career moves women can make to increase their net worth.Read More
Consolidated Credit's Housing Counselor Program Manager, Barry Rothman, spoke with NextAdvisor about the state of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. "Lenders have what are known as overlays, their own set of rules that they put on top of the FHA requirements," explains Rothman, as he describes the realities of applying for — and securing — a FHA loan.Read More
Americans who pursue credit counseling seem to be fairing better than those who don't, according to a recent survey conducted by Consolidated Credit.Read More
During times of unprecedented job loss and financial upheaval, Consolidated Credit has remained committed to providing free educational webinars.Read More
Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida will receive financial education from Consolidated Credit and get one-step closer to achieving financial literacy.Read More