On a credit card statement, there is a number to call if you'd like information about credit counseling services, but many people do not know it's there. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
There are understandably a lot of numbers on your credit card statement, but a number on page one is one you may not have noticed: a number to call if you'd like information about credit counseling services.
News to you? You're not alone. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that a majority of the people who visited their website did not know this information was there.
Chris Dlugozima of the nonprofit GreenPath Debt Solutions said that that's not surprising, since those in the worst financial distress often avoid opening their bills or reading them close enough to notice this potential lifeline.
"It's kind of like asking, does a cigarette smoker, yeah, they all know there's a surgeon's warning on the cigarette pack, but are they really staring at it? Are they really thinking about it?" he says.
It also doesn't help, he says, that the information is often very, very tiny - in some cases, 6-point font.
"It's not necessarily standing out," Dlugozima says. "If you're reading the statement, you'll see it if you're reading every line. If you're just glancing at it, it's very easy to miss it."
The number is in no way an indication that you're heading for trouble. In fact, it's likely to appear on your statement regardless of how much or how little debt you actually have.
In most cases, you'll find it listed directly below the minimum payment warning, a chart that shows you how long it will take to pay off your balance if you send only the bare minimum required.
"This is kind of setting that person up to say, 'Uh oh, maybe it's going to be a while before I pay this off," Dlugozima says. "So the placement certainly does make all the sense in the world."
Even if they see the number, consumers may be hesitant to call.
"Some people might assume, Well, if I call the number, I'm just going to be talking to my credit card company, which I want to avoid," Dlugozima says.
On the contrary. The phone call will connect you with a reputable independent credit counseling agency, one that's a member of the NFCC or something similar.
Of course, you won't see the number if you never actually see your statement, like those who go paperless, monitoring transactions and making payments online. By all means, save the tree, but also, save yourself some financial heartache and make a habit of viewing your whole statement online, including the fine print.