What is a Certified Consumer Debt Specialist?

Certified Consumer Debt Specialist is a professional designation awarded to debt settlement professionals who pass a certification exam. The designation is awarded by the Center for Financial Certifications. Successful applicants earn the right to use the Certified Consumer Debt Specialist designation with their names, which can improve job opportunities, professional reputation and pay. Every two years, specialists must complete 20 hours of continuing education and pay a fee to retain the designation.

Understanding Certified Consumer Debt Specialists (CCDS)

Certified Consumer Debt Specialist applicants study debt settlement and personal finance management (including budgeting, evaluating debt loads, setting and achieving financial goals, planning to eliminate/avoid debt, investing, retirement and insurance). Also, applicants must develop communication, counseling and negotiation skills to negotiate on behalf of their clients. Specialists should also be familiar with consumer protection laws.

Center for Financial Certifications

The Center for Financial Certifications was established in 2006. Known as Fincert, its stated mission is to provide effective delivery of consumer financial products, services and education through the professional certification of individuals providing these services.

Consumer Debt Specialists and Debt Settlement

Debt settlement is the process of negotiating with creditors to reduce overall debts in exchange for a lump-sum payment. A successful settlement occurs when the creditor agrees to forgive a percentage of the total account balance in exchange for the lump sum. Only unsecured debt can be settled. Such debts include medical bills and credit card debt - not student loans, auto financing and mortgages. Debtors may turn to this option to avoid the court-mandated controls of bankruptcy while still lowering their debt balances, sometimes by more than 50 percent. The creditor wants to avoid the possibility that the debtor may successfully file for bankruptcy protection.

Negotiating with a collection agency or junk-debt buyer is somewhat like negotiating with a credit card company or other original creditor. However, many collection agencies will agree to take less of the owed amount than the original creditor because the junk-debt buyer has purchased the debt for a fraction of the original balance. As a part of the settlement, the consumer can request that collection is removed from the credit report, which is generally not the case with the original creditor. Even if the removal of the collection account from the consumer credit report has been achieved as a condition of settlement, the negative marks from the original credit card company may still remain.