Beginning June 1, 1997, Consumer Credit Counseling Service offices around the country must disclose their dual role of assisting consumers as well as creditors. The new policy was hammered out by the Federal Trade Commission and the National Foundation for Consumer Credit, which operates 1,100 offices nationwide.
The offices must now tell consumers seeking help with debt problems that CCCS receives most of its funding from creditors and that counselors develop debt management plans that meet the needs of both consumers and creditors.
They also must give consumers a reliable estimate of how long it will take to pay off their debts under a consolidated debt management plan set up by a CCCS office.
Mark Harnishfeger, president of CCCS in Spokane, said the local organization began making those disclosures last year in fact sheets given to potential clients.
But he said those sheets will be updated to bring the wording into compliance with the new agreement with FTC.
The Spokane office can be reached by calling 327-3777.
The national group’s Web site can be found at www.nfcc.org/.
For a free copy of a new FTC brochure called “Knee Deep in Debt” write to the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20580, or check the Web site at www.ftc.gov/.
IRS extends phone help hours
The Internal Revenue Service workers will man taxpayer help lines today and the remaining two Saturdays before April 14. The lines will also be open April 13.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Spokeswoman Judy Monahan said IRS customer service sites in Portland and Seattle will handle 3 million calls this year. The national total is 100 million.
The number is 1-800-829-1040.
Recorded information on 140 topics is available by calling 1-800-829-4477. The agency also has an Internet page at www.irs.ustreas.gov and an electronic bulletin board, accessible by modem, at 1-703-321-8020.
New site for investor education
The nonprofit Investor Protection Trust in Washington, D.C., has launched a new Web site devoted to investor education. The site includes a tutorial on investment basics, tips on how to check out a financial planner, scam warnings and links to other free investor education sites and materials. Check the site at www.investorprotection.org/.
Brochure provides finance basics
In celebration of Women’s History Month this month, Citibank is offering a brochure called “Money Matters for Women.” The booklet includes six basic steps for taking charge of your financial life as well basic advice on investment strategies. For a free copy call (800) 669-2635.
Social investments rated
The performance of 44 socially responsible mutual funds, which is updated monthly, is available from the Social Investment Forum’s Web site at www.socialinvest.org/.