How Valuable is an Information Systems Management Degree?

Information Systems Dude

Information systems managers play an important role in the execution and management of technology within their organizations. Their job is to coordinate, direct, and plan research involving the computer-related activities of firms. They help determine the goals of an organization with the assistance of other managers, and then enable the technology to meet those goals. Information systems managers oversee all technical aspects of a company, including Internet operations, network security, and software development. For these demanding tasks, IS managers receive a handsome salary, job security, and unlimited opportunities for advancement.

At $112,210 per year, the average information systems managers earns nearly three times as much as the average American does. Some of the highest paid information systems managers may earn more than $141,000 per year, which is nearly four times as much as the national average of $40,711.61 per year.

Salaries for IS managers vary industry. Some of the top industries for information systems managers are:

  • -Software publishers $126,840
  • -Computer systems design and related services $118,120
  • -Management of companies and enterprises $115,150
  • -Depository credit intermediation $113,380
  • -Insurance carriers $109,810

Although these industries employ the highest numbers of IS managers, job growth overall is expected to average 17 percent between now and 2018.

As you advance in your information systems career, you can expect more than just a handsome salary. Higher level managers often receive benefits such as bonuses, stock option plans, and expense accounts.

How to Become an Information Systems Manager

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science, or management information systems (MIS) is the minimum requirement to become an information systems manager, but most employers prefer an MBA with a technology focus. On occasion, an employer may hire a candidate with a bachelor’s degree, but he or she likely has many, many years of experience.

To make sure you have enough education and training to compete in this field, choose an accredited college, technical school, or university and take full advantage of the institutions internship program. Look for schools accredited by the agencies listed below, whether you plan to earn your degree on-campus or online.

  • -Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
  • -The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • -The Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • -Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
  • -Distance Education Training Council (DETC)
  • -Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • -Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)

Regional Accrediting Agencies:

  • -Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • -New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • -North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • -Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • -Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • -Western Association of Schools and Colleges

You can also check the U.S. Department of Education website for other recognized accrediting agencies. If you would like more information about information systems management careers, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos258.htm.

Benefits of Hiring a Career Coach

Plan Into Action

A career coach provides expert advice, support, and guidance to individuals seeking a career in any given field. A professional career coach may provide guidance and support to individuals that are just entering the workforce or those seeking a career change. Career coaches are objective listeners that have the ability to assess where clients are now and how clients can get where they want to be. To accomplish this, a career coach will developing a plan, goals, and action steps customized to each individual.

Top career coaches typically have an advanced degree, more than 10 years of experience in the areas of business, teaching, or other leadership roles, and a proven record of accomplishment in their respective career fields.

During a typical session, a career coach will:

  • -Cover resume and cover letter writing
  • -Go over interview preparation and execution
  • -Teach you how to write interview follow-up letters with impact
  • -Assess your skills, experience and interests
  • -Cover common mistakes you might be making
  • -Discuss strategies for strengthening your job search activities
  • -Discuss proactive tactics for developing meaningful job leads
  • -Discuss strategies for starting and/or growing a valuable network
  • -Develop tactics for maximizing your network of professional contacts
  • -Teach you how to stay memorable throughout the interview process
  • -Cover solutions for perfecting follow-up interviews
  • -Teach you how to negotiate salary and benefits
  • -Help you build and maintain confidence as a jobseeker
  • -Teach you how to stay memorable throughout the interview process
  • -Cover solutions for perfecting follow-up interviews
  • -Teach you how to negotiate salary and benefits

After all of these areas have been covered, you can expect overall improvement of your quality of life, clarity of career and job search goals, enhanced self-awareness and direction, and better career management skills.

Hiring a career coach can be expensive, but if you hire the right career coach, their services will prove invaluable. Career coaching services can range from $125 to $500 per hour or from $375 to $3,000 per package. If you’re still on the fence about hiring a career coach, you can decide whether or not you need one by considering the following:

  • -You need help crafting a resume or cover letter
  • -You’re bored or frustrated with your job, but have no idea what other work you may be qualified to do
  • -You’re sending out resumes, but the phone just won’t ring
  • -You need someone to answer to keep you on track
  • -Your career is at a standstill
  • -You need help with setting yourself apart from other job seekers
  • -You’re open to new ideas and open to hearing some harsh truths about yourself
  • -You want to move to the next step in your career and become successful

Career Coach

How to Find a Top Career Coach

One of the safest ways to find a top career coach is by referral. You should ask friends and people in your network for names and contact information. Rarely will the people in your network or friends steer you in the wrong direction. Check professional organizations for career coaches such as Career Coach Academy, Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, and Career Directors International. If you can’t find any referrals and you decide to search online, just make sure you search for coaches with verifiable certifications, credentials, and references.

You should also make sure the career coach:

  • -Has been in business for more than two years
  • -That he or she is current on career issues
  • -Specializes in job search services
  • -Is someone that understands personal branding

Remember, you can learn all you need to know about your career coach during an initial consultation. And yes, the best career coaches will be more than happy to schedule a free consultation.

Creating a Successful Freelance Writing Career

Writer_Dude_Glasses

If you’re serious about making a living as a freelance writer, the first thing you need to do is forget about all of the success stories you’ve heard about and focus on your own journey. One of the biggest mistakes aspiring writers make is fantasizing about someone else’s end result, and not taking the time out to consider how they got there. Well here’s how. The most successful freelance writers are good at what they do, they work long hours, they are dedicated and motivated, they’re consistent, and they have certain skills that help attract and keep clients.

As an aspiring writer, you must realize that there is no easy path to success and remember that the overnight success stories are the exception, not the rule. So now that the lecture is out of the way, let’s get down to business. After shifting your focus, you should think about what type of writer you would like to be, keeping in mind that the type of writer you would like to be and the type of writing you’re good at might be two different things. If you feel like you’re an excellent fiction writer and you would like to sell your stories, this next section is for you.

How to Become a Freelance Writer (Fiction)

If you have a story or stories to tell, enter your excerpts and short stories into as many contests as you can. You should also try publishing your short stories or excerpts in short story magazines and other publications that accept short stories. You can find out exactly where to market your work by picking up a copy of the most recent Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market by Writer’s Digest Books (Editor, Alice Pope).

This resource will tell you which publications are open to your genre or subject matter and the guidelines for each. Just about every publication has specific guidelines for submissions. If you don’t follow the guidelines to the letter, even if your story is fantastic, it won’t get past the front door. It can take several months to years to get your first story published, so be patient and know that once you have even one credit under your belt, getting past the front door will get easier.

Most large book publishers, and many small ones, do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, so after collecting a sizable number of credits such as honorable mentions, published stories or contest wins, consider hiring an agent. You can try to hire an agent without any credits, but having them will give agents more confidence in your skills, dedication and marketability.  An agent will evaluate your manuscript and let you know if he or she is willing to take you on as a client. If they do, you’re still only about halfway there.

Signing_Contract

Even after an agent signs you, there’s still much work to be done. Starting out, you will have to play an active role in marketing your idea, and once your book is published, you will have to do even more. This means that it takes more than being a good writer to be a successful writer. You have to get to know marketing and business in order to make it.

To learn how to approach literary agents, pick up a copy of the most recent Guide to Literary Agents by Writer’s Digest Books (Editor, Chuck Sambuchino). If you want to get your foot in the door, be sure to follow any and all guidelines to the letter.

How to Become a Freelance Writer (Non-Fiction)

Non-fiction writers might have it easier than fiction writers (or poets), but it still takes a lot of work to earn enough to quit your day job. The good news is, non-fiction is a broad filed, so there’s a market for every subject you can think of, both online and off. If your goal is to write non-fiction books, you can follow the advice in the previous section or promote your idea on your own. Say, for instance, you have an idea for a reference guide such as a dictionary of classic cars. You can use the most current issue of the Writer’s Market by Writer’s Digest Books (Editor, Robert Lee Brewer) to find publishers that might be interested in your idea. Again, if you want to impress a publisher, you can start by following directions—so follow the guidelines to the letter.

 Please note that the publishers and publications in the Writer’s Digest guides have been thoroughly researched. When searching for potential publishers, always stick to trusted sources with a solid reputation in the industry. This will help you avoid becoming the victim of a scam.

 How to Become a Freelance Writer (Non-Fiction, Online)

One of the fastest ways from starving writer to publication (and a steady paycheck) is by selling your writing skills online. Every website needs content, even if it’s just a company profile or a fact sheet about Peridot. So if you’re willing to pen a few web pages each month or write articles about everything from Asbestos to Zoology Careers, you can make a good living writing online. You do, of course, need experience with research, writing, and editing as well as experience with deadlines, working with editor’s, and working with content management systems.

Typing_On_Computer

Depending on the site, publisher, media company or whomever is doing the hiring, you may also need a degree in communications, literature, journalism, English, marketing, public relations, creative writing or a related field. Keep in mind that the more education and experience you have, the more you can charge (and earn) for your services.

Having the right skills and education is important if you want to earn a respectable salary and contract with reputable firms, but you must also be good at marketing your skills and credentials, and running a business. You have to be well-organized and excellent with time management. You must also understand how pricing and invoicing works (check Writer’s Market for current market rates for all services) as well as taxes, expense management, and handling your own health insurance and retirement savings plans.

It is important to get comfortable with the idea that starting out, you’ll be performing all of the tasks that you might be used to someone else doing, then later down the line you might be lucky enough to hire an assistant! In the meantime, the following resources will help you throughout your journey.

*Note: Craigslist is a great place to find work if you’re just starting out. Many start-ups use this site to find talent at a reasonable price. The majority of firms that use Craigslist to find writers are reputable, but occasionally, a bad apple slips through the cracks. The best way to avoid being taken for a ride is to check to make sure the company has a physical address, working phone number, and a website. Give them a call. Check out their website. If you’re nearby, take a stroll past their office. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the company is listed or just do Google search to see what you come up with. And finally, if a “company” asks for money or anything else in return for a job, it’s probably a scam.

How to Find the Best Culinary School

Cooking School_I

The future looks bright for America’s culinary students. The National Restaurant Association authored a news release stating that the outlook for the restaurant industry showed strong signs of rebounding in 2010. In December, the restaurant performance index rose to its highest level in nearly two years. Not only is the industry expected to do well as the nation forges ahead in 2011, but job growth in the industry is expected to average 6-7 percent between now and 2018.

Salaries are significant for culinary artists as well. The annual average salary for chefs is $38,770. Top chefs earn an average of $66,680 per year and if you plan to start your own business, most chef-owners report earnings of $100,00 or more per year.

Aspiring culinary artists have the right figures on their side, but they can increase their chances of securing a top position even more by choosing the right culinary school. Culinary programs are offered at a variety of institutions such as art and design schools, trade schools, community colleges, and professional career institutes. Degree options include certificate, associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree in culinary art. Some schools even offer advanced degrees in culinary arts.

When choosing a culinary school, it’s best to stick with accredited culinary art programs. The American Culinary Federation accredits most programs, but not all. So, when you find a school you’re interested in, be sure to check the website for accreditation status and the name of the accrediting agency. You can verify any schools accreditation status, and whether it’s recognized by the  U.S. Department of Education, by visiting Ed.gov.

To begin your search for a quality culinary degree program, visit reputable sites such as:

These sites offer free access to college listings and descriptions, peer reviews, ratings, and tuition rates. Once you’ve located a program, take some time out to review the curriculum. Accredited culinary programs typically offer more than 1,000 hours of hands-on training as a part of the curriculum. They also offer similar course curriculums including:

  • -Advanced Restaurant Cooking
  • -Baking and Pastry Skill Development
  • -Cuisines of the Americas, Asia, Italy, and the Mediterranean
  • -Food Safety
  • -Menu Development
  • -Nutrition
  • -Restaurant Law
  • -Wine Studies

Most accredited culinary institutes report 90% placement rates for graduates, so check with admissions to see if your selection is in the ballpark.

If you want to take a look at one of the nations top culinary programs, visit the official Culinary Institute of America (CIA) website. This will give you a good idea of what a top culinary program looks like. CIA has campuses in New York, Texas, and California.

10 Reasons Employers Won’t Hire You

Sad Businessman

You curse. You lie. You think nothing of posting risqué photos of yourself on social networking sites. These are just three of the reasons why employer’s won’t hire you. A 2009 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 47 percent of employers said that finding qualified applicant’s is their biggest hiring challenge. The survey also stated that employers are looking for multitaskers, candidates that take initiative, and those with a talent for creative problem solving. What they don’t want are cocky and disinterested candidates with no long-term potential. Their words – not ours! Other turn-offs for potential employers include:

  • -Not knowing anything about the company
  • -Being too personal
  • -Bringing up salary before the employer
  • -Can’t provide examples of accomplishments
  • -Lack of experience

If you want to learn more about things not to do to impress a potential employer, read more about the survey here.

What are My Options for Tax Debt Relief?

Tax_Debt_Relief

Tax debt is monies owed to the IRS originating from any current or past tax returns. Tax debt may include income tax owed combined with any accumulated interest and penalties. It is important to note that not paying your taxes can result in wage garnishments, levies, and long-term damage to your credit report.

There are many reasons why individuals may find themselves with a large amount of tax debt. The inability to pay tax debt may be the result of a layoff or extended periods of unemployment, illness, divorce, an accident, or the mismanagement of funds. Whatever the reason may be for your tax debt, you can find relief through several solutions or sources.

Short-term solutions for tax debt relief include: borrowing from a family member or a friend, selling any valuables for cash (or liquidating), taking out a short-term personal loan, or applying for an Offer in Compromise (OIC) through the IRS.

Applying for an Offer in Compromise

An OIC can provide relief for taxpayers who cannot pay their tax debt in full or if an installment agreement is not an option. An Offer in Compromise is an agreement between the IRS and a taxpayer that resolves the taxpayer’s debt. The fee for filing is $150, but in some cases the fee may be waived.

With an OIC, the IRS can choose to settle the taxpayers debt by accepting less than the full payment if there is: doubt as to liability, doubt as to collectibility, if the collection of the tax would create an economic hardship or if it would be unfair and inequitable. In order to apply for an OIC, taxpayers should fill out Form 656 (and possibly 656-L), available at Irs.gov. If you assistance, please contact an IRS collection representative at 1-800-829-1040, or preferably, a tax attorney or a certified public accountant (CPA).

There are several things to keep in mind when applying for an Offer in Compromise or when seeking assistance with the process. Obtaining approval for an Offer in Compromise is difficult, so if at all possible, think of a Plan B or revisit the list of short-term and long-term solutions to be absolutely sure that you have exhausted all possibilities.

IRS SIGN

When seeking assistance with applying for an OIC, it’s best to avoid services that use the following language “settle your tax debts for pennies on the dollar” through the Offer in Compromise Program. Instead, read through Publication 594 (The IRS Collection Process) and stick with trusted names in the industry. Publication 594 is available at Irs.gov or by calling 1-800-829-3676.

Long-Term and Permanent Solutions for Tax Debt Relief

A common long-term solution for tax debt relief is an IRS installment agreement. An IRS installment agreement, also called payment option, payment plan, and payment agreement is an agreement between the IRS and the taxpayer to make payments on taxes owed. You will be charged a fee, interest and penalties to start the installment agreement. Interest and penalties may be minimized of you are able to resolve your tax debt immediately or in a few of months.

Taxpayers with $25,000 or less in combined tax, penalties, and interest are eligible to use the Internal Revenue Services’ Online Payment Agreement (OPA). You can access the agreement at Irs.gov. If you need further assistance, you can contact an IRS collection representative by calling 1-800-829-1040 or contact a tax attorney or a CPA in your area.

A permanent solution for IRS tax debt relief is tax bankruptcy. In the case of tax bankruptcy, you must contact a tax attorney to assist you with this complicated process. In general, if taxes are old enough they are dischargeable in Chapter 7 — if certain criteria are met.

Most Executives Entertaining Multiple Job Offers

HAPPY EXECUTIVE

Most high-level candidates receive more than one job offer, according to online networking and job site ExecuNet Inc. The company surveyed 380 recruiters and about 51% reported that the executives they work with receive multiple job offers. In 2010, only 35% of search firms worked with executives that received multiple job offers. Although this is good news for executives, overall, the figures still haven’t made their way back to 2007 levels when 80% of search firms reported that the candidates they worked with received multiple job offers.

The jump is still a positive one, and some industries seem to be enjoying it more than others.

“Competition [for candidates] is heating up in some industries,” said ExecuNet president Mark Anderson. Mr. Anderson said that executives in the health-care and technology industries seem to be in high demand, while defense and nonprofit companies are growing the slowest. Among functions, sales and business-development experience are most sought after, although marketing and engineering experience have also seen an increase in demand.

Companies are doing more than just making offers to executives with technology and scientific skill sets. Nearly 60% of recruiters report that companies sweeten the deal by offering perks and increasing compensation, while more than 40% made their offers more attractive by adding signing bonuses. Just last year, less than 30% of companies added incentives such as signing bonuses.

Where you look for a job has a lot to do with how many offers you might receive as well. For example, if you’re an executive with a technology background, you can expect to receive more offers in say DC or New York than Chicago. If you’re an executive in the healthcare field, forget Fresno and head to Florida.

Benefits of an Education Degree

TEACHER

An education degree can lead to a career as an elementary, secondary or postsecondary educator. A career in this field offers growth, stability, and a competitive salary at all levels. In today’s economy, growth and stability are top priorities for job seekers. Job growth in the education sector is expected to average between 13-15 percent between now and 2018. This is faster than the average for all occupations. 

Before you can become a member of this respected group of professonals, you will have to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher in teacher education. Very few are accepted into this field with an associate’s degree. In fact, more than 90% of teachers enter this career field with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and most hold a master’s degree or doctoral degree. Around 10% hold a first professional degree.

The level of education attained can have a dramatic effect on earning potential. Doctoral degree holders make 30% more than master’s degree holders, and master’s degree holders make 29% more than bachelor’s degree holder’s. Bachelor degree holders earn roughly 18% more than associate degree holders. Coveted positions that offer greater responsibilities and research opportunities are reserved for masters, doctorate, and first professional degree holders.

Earning an Education Degree

To get started on a career as an educator, you should enroll in an accredited bachelor’s degree program or higher in teacher education. The program curriculum will consist advanced versions of the subjects you plan to teach as well as:

  • -Curriculum Development
  • -Diversity in the Classroom
  • -Diversity on the Workplace
  • -Education of Children
  • -School Law
  • -Leadership and Teaching
  • -Internship

The program should be accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) or other Department of Education approved accrediting agency. This will make fulfilling licensure requirements easier. In addition, most schools prefer graduates from accredited programs, whether the program is through a traditional college or university, or online. 

Other approved accrediting agencies include:

  • -Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
  • -Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • -Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • -Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)

Regional accrediting agencies include Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Postsecondary Education Jobs and Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Median annual earnings of all postsecondary teachers in May 2008 were $58,830. The middle 50 percent earned between $41,600 and $83,960. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,870, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $121,850.

Earnings for college faculty vary with the rank and type of institution, geographic area, and field. According to a 2008–09 survey by the American Association of University Professors, salaries for full-time faculty averaged $79,439.  By rank, the average was $108,749 for professors, $76,147 for associate professors, $63,827 for assistant professors, $45,977 for instructors, and $52,436 for lecturers. In 2008–09, full-time faculty salaries averaged $92,257 in private independent institutions, $77,009 in public institutions, and $71,857 in religiously affiliated private colleges and universities.

Faculty in 4-year institutions earn higher salaries, on average, than do those in 2-year schools. In fields with high-paying nonacademic alternatives—medicine, law, engineering, and business, among others—earnings exceed these averages. In others fields, such as the humanities and education, earnings are lower. Earnings for postsecondary career and technical education teachers vary widely by subject, academic credentials, experience, and region of the country.

Many faculty members have significant earnings from consulting, teaching additional courses, research, writing for publication, or other employment, in addition to their base salary. Many college and university faculty enjoy unique benefits, including access to campus facilities, tuition waivers for dependents, housing and travel allowances, and paid leave for sabbaticals. Part-time faculty and instructors usually have fewer benefits than full-time faculty have.

Elementary, Middle School, and Secondary Jobs and Salaries

Educators interested in or with experience working in inner city schools or rural areas will have the most job opportunities in the coming years. If you are willing to commute or even relocate, you can increase your chances of obtaining a lucrative and stable teaching position. The highest paying metropolitan areas for teachers include Columbus, OH; Baltimore, MD; Cleveland, OH; Riverside, CA; San Francisco, CA, and Sacramento, CA. Salaries range from an average of $45,000-$50,000+.

Crafting a Catchy Cover Letter

RESUME_COVER LETTER

One of the worst things you can do during your job search is send a generic cover letter to a potential employer. And by generic, we mean using openers such as, “In response to your advertisement for the position, I am sending my resume for your review.” The problem with this is, everyone uses “stock” openers such as this, so it will rarely (if ever) help you stand out from the crowd. Instead, use a branding statement as your opener such as, “With more than 10 years of forensic accounting experience…” See the difference? The second opener addresses the company’s need for a forensic accountant and it let’s them know right away that the applicant is well seasoned.

Once you’ve made it past the opener, it’s important to include facts that support the requirements. The International Business Times offers this example:

“I see you are interested in hiring someone with strategic-change management experience.” (Or whatever the key requirement of the position is-highlight it here). Then tell-or even better, SHOW-the reader why you have that experience: “In my present role with ABC Distributors, I did XYZ, which resulted in JKL.” Showing the potential employer-right off the bat-you possess a desired attribute or requirement for the position will prompt the hiring manager to invest more time in reading your resume.

If your cover letter states-in so many words-”I am the perfect match for your opening, and I can meet/exceed your needs…” then you immediately get my attention, and I’m more likely to invest time in reviewing your resume.

Here’s a tip: do not use bullet points or material word-for-word from your resume; provide the hiring manager with fresh information on your cover letter.

Details are important too, so make sure:

  • -The formatting for your resume and cover letter match
  • -The headings match
  • -There are no typos or spelling and grammatical errors
  • -Your contact information is current, including your main email address

And finally, at the end of your cover letter, always offer to follow up by phone or email within one to two weeks, then mark your calendar.

Are Credit Counseling Agencies Legit?

CREDIT COUNSELING

Credit counseling is a service provided by organizations that offer professional counseling for consumers in need of assistance with debt repayment, debt management, and money management. Also called “debt counseling,” credit counseling is also required before filing chapter 7 or chapter 13.

A credit counseling agency will assist you with managing credit card debt and loans such as personal, mortgage, student, and auto. The agency also assists with utility bills and tax debt. A major benefit to credit counseling is that the credit counselor will handle all lenders, collection agencies, and credit card companies for you. This helps to eliminate the stress associated with phone calls from collection agencies and creditors. Your credit counselor will negotiate a repayment plan with your creditors that will significantly lower your monthly payments and interest rates.

You will have the option to send monthly payments to the credit counseling agency or authorize a monthly electronic funds transfer from your bank account. Depending on the credit counseling agency, they may offer an option called “debt management system.” This means you will pay the agency a lump sum. Out of that lump sum, payments will be made on your behalf. This system can protect you against skipped or late payments, which can save money on interest, fees, and any penalties associated with the debt. An additional benefit to credit counseling is that it can educate you on how to better manage your finances and eventually help minimize or prevent future debt.

While there are many advantages to credit counseling, there are also disadvantages. Credit counseling could have a negative effect on your credit. In some cases lenders, specifically mortgage lenders, may not want to extend credit to an individual that may be in the process of completing a credit counseling program. Fortunately, credit counseling notations are dropped from your credit report one month after the counseling program is complete.

Another disadvantage to credit counseling is the potential for fraud. Most credit counseling agencies are legit, but some are nothing more than a scam. The following signs will let you know that the credit counseling agency you’re dealing with is really a scam:

  • -Big upfront fees (legitimate agencies typically charge $10-$15 U.S.)
  • -Delayed or missing payments
  • -No accreditation
  • -Unrealistic promises (“settle for pennies,” or “this won’t affect your credit report”)

To protect yourself against fraudulent credit counseling agencies, make sure the agency is approved by the U.S. Trustee Program of the United States Department of Justice. Locating an approved agency is simple. Just log onto www.usdoj.gov and follow these simple steps:

  • -Under “Resources” click “DOJ Agencies”
  • -Scroll down to “U.S. Trustees Program”
  • -Under “Bankruptcy Reform” click “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education”
  • -Under “Credit Counseling for Consumers” click “Approved Credit Counseling Agencies”

The search function allows the user to browse through approved agencies by state. You can also follow this link, which will take you directly to the search page.

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