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Compliance CUs have NFCC counseling line options
WASHINGTON (6/7/11)—Credit unions will have free alternatives when the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s (NFCC) begins charging for its CARD Act National Locator Line (NLL) phone service on July 1. For instance, GreenPath Debt Solutions will provide a similar service for free, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). GreenPath is a CUNA strategic provider. Its service will satisfy Regulation Z requirements that a toll-free number be listed among the loan repayment disclosures to help members obtain information about credit counseling services. Money Management International is also offering a free counseling line. The NLL is a third-party service that provides credit union members and other financial services consumers with a list of local credit counselors. The NFCC last month said that it and various member agencies "can no longer bear the full cost” of operating the service. The NFCC-provided phone service will cost a minimum of $80 per month when prepaid for 12 months. Those that do not prepay will be charged $100 monthly. Credit unions and other financial institutions since Feb. 22, 2010 have been required to prominently display on their statements a toll-free number providing cardholders information about accessing debt management services and credit counseling with nonprofit credit counseling agencies. The requirement, which is a result of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009, allows creditors to either provide their own toll-free services or engage with third-party providers. CUNA Senior Compliance Counsel Mike McLain said that credit unions must decide whether to move to one of the above recommended services or to stay with the NFCC program before June credit card statements are processed. “Credit unions will need to perform their own due diligence to insure that the provider selected complies with Regulation Z requirements for the toll-free number consumers may use to obtain information about credit counseling,” McLain added. GreenPath finance director Thomas Butler said that GreenPath’s phone service will provide credit union members access to three NFCC providers. He added that a more robust version of a CARD Act compliant line that includes individual credit union-branded messaging, real time reporting, and other capabilities will be released in the near future.
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