Analytics

Monday, August 4, 2014

Thank you Bank of America for the generous grant we were recently awarded! We take great pride in helping individuals build a better financial future, and appreciate the contribution that will allow us to further our efforts.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo Reports Survey Results
Survey Reveals Varied Perspectives Regarding Student Loan Debt

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo (CCCS) announced today that The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC) Financial Literacy Survey revealed that U.S. adults have a varied range of opinions and experiences when it comes to how they view student loan debt.
By a two-to-one margin, borrowers were more likely to say that their student loan was a good investment than a bad investment.  At the same time, however, more U.S. adults would not recommend student loans as a way to finance a college education compared to those who would recommend doing so.  Some felt that if they had realized the amount of student loan debt that they would accumulate, they never would have taken out the loan(s). 

Many adults say that they would have benefitted from financial counseling on both ends of the loan - before taking out their loan, as well as after – for many admitted that it is difficult to find the right student loan repayment program for their situation.

A little over two years ago, CCCS initiated the region’s first student loan counseling program in response to the growing need for education and assistance with student loans. The Student Loan Counseling Program is a service designed to assist individuals with student loans. To date, 208 people have received help from this program. Unfortunately, we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Also noted in the survey was that others expressed interest in obtaining a graduate degree, but felt they could not afford it.  Some predicted that they would probably still be paying for their own student loan when their children begin college.

“It is disconcerting that graduates cross the stage with a diploma in one hand and student loan debt in the other,” said Paul C. Atkinson, President  & CEO of CCCS Buffalo.  “Young professionals face a tepid job market, which could make repayment even more difficult.  However, our certified financial counselors stand ready to help borrowers find programs that are appropriate for their budget and unique situation.”
Even if a person secures a good-paying job, an average student loan debt of close to $30,000 can start graduates off in a financial hole, especially as interest continues to accumulate on their loan.  While the federal government offers a number of income-based repayment plans for borrowers of all income levels, sorting through them to find the right plan can be challenging.  CCCS certified financial professionals can help graduates identify optimal repayment plans that can minimize the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan, while maintaining an affordable monthly payment.

Because student loans are reported to the credit bureau, depending on how they’re handled, they can either wreck a person’s credit history or help build a positive one.  When student loan activity is reported, it is treated as an installment loan, thus paying a student loan on-time or paying it late will be treated like other installment debts such as car payments.  Since payment history is a highly weighted element of the credit scoring model, ignoring student loan payments can have a long-term negative impact on a person’s credit report and subsequent score, thus potentially hindering future borrowing power. 

Atkinson noted that some employers will pull credit reports as part of the hiring process, thus a poor report could count against the applicant.  To counter this, those who have already fallen behind with their student loan payments should be prepared to present a solid plan of action that identifies the steps that will be taken to improve their credit situation moving forward.
Graduates, even those who remain unemployed, are advised to make repayment arrangements before their grace period or deferment expires. By doing so, they will not risk the negative consequences associated with missed payments.  For help understanding the options available and determining the most suitable repayment program, schedule an appointment with our certified professionals. Call 712-2060 for more information.

Many people will find relief through student loan counseling programs. In our program, Certified Financial Counselors:

  • Evaluate student loan debt (current or in default)
  • Explore options for student loans including deferments, forbearances, alternative repayment plans, and consolidation loans
  • Assist in applying for the appropriate option
  • Assist in communicating with the lender, as needed
  • Review credit score, credit report and living expenses
Contact CCCS today to make an appointment. Visit www.consumercreditbuffalo.org for more information.

Monday, April 28, 2014

       
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Niagara To Hold Ribbon Cutting for New Site in Lockport; Seeks to Economically Empower Lockport Residents

Niagara County Financial Literacy Coalition Initiative Expands, Brings Number of Niagara County Sites to 2

 
May 20, 2014

10:00 am

The Dale Association

33 Ontario Street


Among Lockport’s population of 41,694, nearly 6,000 Lockport residents live on incomes under the federal poverty level. An additional 6,800 are close to poverty, with incomes between 100%- 200% of the poverty level and about 12,800 are doing poorly or struggling financially. This is almost one out of every three in Lockport.
Knowing the dire situation, last Fall, Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) launched an initiative designed to provide opportunities for financial empowerment, education and awareness. The Niagara County Financial Literacy Coalition is a collaboration among over 25 human service providers, government and private companies in Niagara County. Through the Coalition, CCCS launched three unique services: financial coaching, financial literacy classes and access to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA).
CCCS opened its first office in Niagara Falls in the Family & Children’s Services’ Niagara Family Center in October 2013.

On Tuesday, May 20th at 10:00 am, CCCS will cut the ribbon for their new Lockport office at 33 Ontario Street, in partnership with the Dale Association. They invite the Lockport community to join their economic empowerment initiative.

CCCS raised $95,500 in funding toward this initiative ensuring successful implementation. In the past two years, the East Hill Foundation awarded $23,000, the John R. Oishei Foundation awarded $45,000, the United Way of Greater Niagara awarded $20,000 per year for the next three years and First Niagara provided $10,000.
“We are proud to launch this much needed service in Niagara County,” said Paul C. Atkinson, CEO and President of CCCS. “Our goal is to provide the community with financial education that will help them attain security and success.”

The  NCFLC approach identifies financial coaching for low-income populations as a core feature because its effectiveness helps families achieve their long term financial goals. CCCS has modeled this project on the Center for Working Families approach. 

Our project is the first time that a model similar to the CASH Coalition in Buffalo is being used to benefit Niagara County residents.  It addresses the community need for economic empowerment and serves a community that CCCS has served for nearly 50 years—low-income individuals and families. We plan to serve 750-1,000 residents annually. 
The Niagara County community is already strongly embracing this new project.

“The Dale Association is pleased to be partnering with Consumer Credit Counseling Service,” said Maureen A. Wendt, President and CEO of the Dale Association.  “This partnership allows the residents of Niagara County easy access to financial counselors who will meet privately, one on one with people and  financial education on topics designed to help people with budgeting and debt control.  Consumer Credit Counseling Service has a proven track record of helping people with their financial goals and we are pleased to provide access to such a valuable service in the Lockport area on  a regular basis."
Support also came from the United Way of Greater Niagara.

 “We are extremely excited to be a part of the launching of this program for Niagara County residents. Financial Literacy is a huge area of concern and funding a program to address this need is critical to the future stability of our community.”  Said Carol G. Houwaart-Diez, President, United Way of Greater Niagara

First Niagara Financial Group has been a supportive partner in the coalition.

“First Niagara is proud to partner with Consumer Credit Counseling Service to invest in our community and empower all residents to thrive,” said Buford Sears, First Niagara Buffalo Market Executive.  “The financial education and literacy opportunities that will now be available in Lockport will help even more individuals in Western New York achieve their financial goals.”

The philosophy behind the NCFLC is to break the cycle of poverty via free educational opportunities and counseling.
The array of services that CCCS and the NCFLC offers: 

1.            Financial Coaching (One on One): Participants will meet with certified financial counselors for sessions on a quarterly basis.

2.            Financial Literacy: Classes-Dollars & Sense; Credit Counts and Money in Motion

3.            Access to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

Collaboration and synergistic partnerships play a key a role in the project. CCCS is counting on community engagement with partners in building the Coalition, and has received an overwhelmingly positive response from many local agencies. CCCS will use partners’ offices to deliver financial education and counseling services as needed--or requested. Participants in our financial counseling program will be provided with referrals to other agencies with whom we collaborate.

To date, CCCS has forged partnerships with the following Niagara County providers:

                    United Way of Greater Niagara

                    Family & Children’s Service of Niagara

                    The American Red Cross

                    Literacy Volunteers

                    NiaCap (Niagara Community Action Program)

                    YWCA of Niagara

                    YMCA of Lockport

                    Niagara Falls Housing Authority

                    Rivershore

                    City of Niagara Falls Department of Community Development

                    Worksource One

                    Niagara University

                    NCCC Single Moms Program

                    NYS Tax Department

                    Heart, Love and Soul

                    Highland Community Revitalization Services

                    Niagara Falls School District

                    The Dale Association

                    Niagara Orleans BOCES

                    Lockport Main Street Inc.

For more information on the Coalition and CCCS —or to get involved—contact Tara Vogel at 716-712-2062 or tara.vogel@cccsbuffalo.org
About CCCS
CCCS is a non-profit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and credit repayment assistance to consumers since 1965.  CCCS of Buffalo helps consumers trim expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts.  Counseling is available at our Main Office in West Seneca, in one of our Satellite Offices, by telephone and via Internet.  Visit www.consumercreditbuffalo.org for more information.

 

 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lots happening this Spring!

We will be opening a new location in Lockport--at the Dale Association--in May. Stay tuned for more details.

In the interim, read this beautiful piece written by a former client...

When I walked across the stage of New York University to receive my bachelor’s degree, I knew that my life would be forever changed. I believed that my hands held the key to my future and the assurance that my career would sustain me and my future family.

If someone had told me on that day, that many, many moons and a quite impressive resume later, that I would find myself an out of work single mother who was barely able to ensure a solid meal, I would have laughed in their face.

However, when I lost my job that is exactly where I was. I had some savings, and was given unemployment for a specified number of weeks. However, soon after my job disappeared, so did my 14 year old car and many other ways of my formerly employed life. The one thing that remained constant was the barrage of bills in my mailbox. Mail that was tossed on the table in a large pile, for the thought of being reminded of what I owe and furthermore, what I did not have, was much too depressing to withstand on a daily basis. 

Without transportation for myself and my then infant child, nor any reliable, affordable childcare my prospects were dim.

Eventually I received a job offer that was within my reach. It was certainly doable, but not without a great effort. Many parents of young children know all too well the struggle of rising and shining before the sun, to push a baby stroller through the snow with a diaper bag and work briefcase flung across the shoulders, all the while praying that the bus doesn’t happen to come early, or be too crowded, and that you don’t ruin your work clothes while trying to fold the stroller and find exact change for the fare.

Luckily, I found a program--Ways to Work—that was available for working parents. I qualified for the program but first needed to take certain steps, including improving my credit before I could be officially approved. I felt instant anxiety. Not only did I not want people in my financial business, but I wasn’t even sure I was ready to face that demon myself. Not ready to go through the piles of mail that decorated my kitchen table.

However after a particularly difficult day of missed busses and soiled clothes, I decided it was time to slay the dragon. I called the program and was told I needed to take a financial literacy class through Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo (CCCS). I still had no transportation—but was told I could take the class online. What a relief!

The class was broken up into a variety of segments. Initially I approached it as simply something to do. However, as I moved through the segments, I began to complete the optional worksheets, activities and suggestions. The more I completed, the less afraid I became of the situation and the more empowered I became. Gone was the anxiety in the pit of my stomach and I was eager to log in each day as I worked to rebuild my credit.

With the assistance of the CCCS and the Ways to Work program, I learned to accurately ready my credit report. I learned of several discrepancies that had been dragging my score down for many years, and how to get them removed from credit report. I was able to make arrangements with my student loans and get them out of default. I learned to budget to allow myself to save for a car, while paying off old debt.

I am grateful for the services offered by The Ways to Work program and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo to help empower people who are paralyzed by debt or personal situation.  It feels good to finally have my finances in order!

Monday, March 31, 2014

April is Financial Literacy Month

 
 Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo Celebrates Financial Literacy Month
Partners with United Way of Greater Niagara;
Will Hold Community Events Throughout April
 Recognizing the need for an increased emphasis on personal finances, April has once again been declared Financial Literacy Month, underscoring the importance of financial education in the United States and the serious consequences that may result from a lack of financial knowledge.
“Considering the complex financial environment in which we live, consumers really benefit from focusing on their finances 12 months of the year,” said Paul C. Atkinson, President and CEO of Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) “Being financially literate means understanding how to manage money, use credit effectively, build wealth, and make sound financial decisions, regardless of income level. For this reason, Consumer Credit Counseling Service is taking the lead in providing financial education to the Buffalo Niagara region’s residents during Financial Literacy Month.”
During Financial Literacy Month, CCCS is maximizing the opportunity to highlight financial education to consumers by offering free workshops to businesses throughout Erie and Niagara counties. Working in partnership with the United Way of Greater Niagara, CCCS will provide financial education workshops throughout April. Call Scott Laughlin at 712-2067 for more information or to schedule a workshop. 
 “United Way is proud to partner with Consumer Credit Counseling to help all Niagara County residents with financial literacy planning and training, “ said Carol G. Houwaart-Diez, President of United Way of Greater Niagara.  “In today’s world, we all are asked to do more with less.  This partnership is one way the United Way can assist individuals and families to stretch their limited resources.”
Other community events celebrating Financial Literacy Month include:
Community Resource & Wellness Fairs
CCCS will participate in two fairs, giving folks an opportunity to speak with Certified Consumer Credit Counselors and Educators.  Brief advice and some direction on next steps will be given.
  • Community Resource Fair on Thursday, April 3rd from 2 PM – 5 PM at North Collins Senior Center (1106 Gowanda State Road, North Collins, NY 14111)
  • Health Fair on Sunday, April 6th from 10 AM – 3 PM at the Hamburg & Erie County Fairgrounds-Events Center (5600 McKinley Pkwy, Hamburg, New York 14075)
 
Financial Education Classes
Financial education classes are offered throughout Western New York and available to anyone for free.  Those interested in scheduling a class for your group can call the CCCS Community Outreach Department at 716-712-2064. 
Topics include:
• Goal setting
• Budgeting & tips for saving
• Understanding credit & management
• Repairing your credit
 
Free workshops
  • Credit Repair Presentation at the Buffalo Central Library (1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203) on April 9th from 12 PM – 1 PM.
  • Financial Success Workshop at the American Red Cross (786 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo NY 14209) on April 19th from 10 AM – 1 PM.
  • Financial Success Workshop at the Niagara Worksource One (1001 Eleventh Street , Niagara Falls, NY 14301)
    on April 7th from 1 PM-3PM
    • Dollars & $ense                       1:00 – 2:00
      • Learn budgeting techniques, creative ways to save,
      • Debt control and the value of money.
    • Credit Counts              2:00 – 3:00
      • Credit Scores & Reports DO affect your Job Search.  Employers Check, Do You?
      • Creating a Budget         
Call: 716.278.8108 to reserve a seat
Speak with a Counselor
Any education class (below) followed by a counseling session is the perfect way to get to the root of trouble.  Individuals can schedule an appointment at any CCCS counseling locations throughout the Buffalo-Niagara area by calling 716-712-2060.  Specialty sessions are available below:
 
  • Financial Counseling for Veterans, at the Veteran’s OneStop Center (1280 Main Street, Buffalo NY 14209).  Available April 2nd, 9th, 14th, 16th, 21st, 23rd, 28th, and 30th from 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM.  Counselors are available for Veterans and their families to discuss a variety of financial concerns.
·         Individualized Credit Report Education & Counseling at the Civil Legal Advice & Resource Office (CLARO) Project located at the BFNC-Hope Center (2495 Main Street, Suite 330 on the 3rd Floor, Buffalo NY 14214).  Available April 1st, 8th, 22nd, and 30th from 5 PM – 7 PM.  During this time a counselor will be available to retrieve and review your credit report from one of the major credit bureaus through www.AnnualCreditReport.com
Financial literacy is the first step toward personal economic security and overall financial well-being for consumers in our region. A strong grasp of personal finance can also allow citizens to contribute more to our community and encourage economic development.
For more information on any of the above, contact CCCS at 712-2060.
 
 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


April is Financial Literacy Month.
Here are some of the activities we have planned:
Community Resource & Wellness Fairs!

Community Fairs are a wonderful opportunity to speak with Consumer Credit Counselors and Educators for the first time.  You have the opportunity to receive brief advice and some direction on what your very next steps should be!

·         Community Resource Fair on Thursday, April 3rd from 2 PM – 5 PM at North Collins Senior Center (1106 Gowanda State Road, North Collins, NY 14111)

·         Health Fair on Sunday, April 6th from 10 AM – 3 PM at the Hamburg & Erie County Fairgrounds-Events Center (5600 McKinley Pkwy, Hamburg, New York 14075)

Financial Education Classes!

Financial education classes are offered throughout Western New York and available to anyone for free.  If you are interested in scheduling a class for your group, please call our Community Outreach Department at 716-712-2064. 

·         Credit Repair Presentation at the Buffalo Central Library (1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203) on April 9th from 12 PM – 1 PM.

·         Financial Success Workshop at the American Red Cross (786 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo NY 14209) on April 19th from 10 AM – 1 PM.

Speak with a Counselor!

Any education class (below) followed by a counseling session is the perfect way to get to the root of trouble.  Individuals are always welcome to schedule an appointment at any one of our counseling locations throughout the Buffalo-Niagara area by calling 716-712-2060.  Specialty sessions are available below:

·         Financial Counseling for Veterans, at the Veteran’s OneStop Center (1280 Main Street, Buffalo NY 14209).  Available April 2nd, 9th, 14th, 16th, 21st, 23rd, 28th, and 30th from 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM.  Counselors are available for Veterans and their families to discuss a variety of financial concerns.

·         Individualized Credit Report Education & Counseling at the Civil Legal Advice & Resource Office (CLARO) Project located at the BFNC-Hope Center (2495 Main Street, Suite 330 on the 3rd Floor, Buffalo NY 14214).  Available April 1st, 8th, 22nd, and 30th from 5 PM – 7 PM.  During this time a counselor will be available to retrieve and review your credit report from one of the major credit bureaus through www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


The West Seneca Chamber of Commerce held their 67th Annual Awards dinner this past Thursday, February 13th at Kloc's Grove.  Approximately 200 people were in attendance.
 
CCCS Buffalo was honored as the West Seneca Business of the Year, for all of the work we do in West Seneca, and throughout the region!
 
Thank you to the West Seneca Chamber. We are happy to have you as our partner.

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 9, 2014

Consumer Credit Counseling offering up free tax prep this season

Niagara Gazette — Tax season will be a little less costly for Niagara Falls residents this year. Consumer Credit Counseling Service, a Cheektowaga-based non-profit, will be offering free tax preparation as part of an effort to expand its services in Niagara County. The non-profit is working with a list of Niagara County agencies on a project called the Niagara County Financial Literacy Initiative aimed at helping low-income residents better manage their finances.
 
Tara Vogel, the vice president of the non-profit, said her agency hopes to help low- and middle-income residents avoid paying for-profit tax preparation agencies, where the average cost for services is almost $200.
The non-profit is encouraging clients to prepare their taxes on their own, either online through the link on its website or through the assistance of an IRS certified representative — if they feel comfortable doing so, she added.
 
“They can save that $200 and they can add that on top of the refund they may be expecting in addition to that,” Vogel said. “It’s sort of an empowerment thing as well, so that somebody is preparing their own taxes and learning about that process as opposed to handing that over to a tax preparer.”
 
In addition, some tax preparation agencies engage in predatory services, giving customers their money immediately, but charging as much as 10 percent.
 
“Often times what we see is that folks just want to get to their refund so quickly that they’re willing to kind of set aside the notion of losing that money in order to do that,” she said.
 
Taxpayers who file electronically can see their refund check arrive within two weeks in most instances, according to Vogel.
 
The money saved by waiting for the check could help people pay down debt or catch up on bills, she added.
 
“It’s a large chunk of change that’s coming at you all at once and you think, OK, well the quicker I can get it the better,” she said. “In the long run you’re really only hurting your finances.”
 
The non-profit also offers financial coaching from advisers and financial literacy classes.
 
Residents can either follow instructions at the Consumer Credit Counseling Service website or they can schedule a face-to-face appointment with a representative from the non-profit at its Niagara Falls offices in the Family and Children’s Services Niagara Family Center, located at 1522 Main St.
Residents can schedule appointments on Tuesdays from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. through the end of March.
 
Taxpayers must have a household income of $58,500 a year or less to qualify for the assistance.
 
Consumer Credit Counseling Service’s Niagara office can be reached at 299-0911 and the free tax preparation software can be accessed by visiting www.consumercreditbuffalo.org and clicking on the “myfreetaxes” button.

Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Debt May Spoil Cupid’s Plans This Valentine’s Day

Cupid is up against a mighty opponent this Valentine’s Day: debt.  The majority of respondents participating in the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) monthly poll indicated they would have serious reservations about taking on the debt of the person they love, even to the point of ending the relationship.

Fifty-four percent of respondents would either not marry until the debt was repaid (37%), marry but not help pay the debt (10%), or end the relationship (7%).  The remaining 46 percent of those who weighed in were willing to marry and jointly pay off the debt. 

“When considering the negative ramifications of debt, people may not realize that the associated problems can go beyond credit scores and interest rates. Debt can also have serious, long-lasting personal implications,” said Paul Atkinson, President and CEO of Consumer Credit Counseling Service. “It appears that debt overrides love, at least temporarily, when deciding to move forward in a relationship.  It’s money over marriage.” 

The fact that debt can give a person second thoughts about continuing a relationship may be particularly true with young adults who emerge from college with tens of thousands of dollars in credit card and student loan debt.  If two millennials with similar debt obligations marry, they could begin their happily ever after with a six-figure debt load.  Close to half of all marriages in America end in divorce, with financial strain often cited as the culprit.  Therefore, it is no surprise that people are reluctant to start off on the wrong financial foot.

Due to the potential negative impact debt can have on a credit report and score, it may also be difficult to buy a home or car, rent an apartment, obtain insurance or land a job, all common steps people take when building a life together.

However, lovebirds need to be aware that credit reports and scores are for individuals, not couples.  A marriage license may join two people together for matrimony, but their credit remains separate. The game changes, however, if accounts are opened jointly with each person a co-applicant.  People often apply for credit jointly when making a major purchase that requires two sources of income to support the loan.  In this case, one person’s low credit score may hinder the approval, or if the lender extends credit, it may be at a higher interest rate.

Further, if two people marry, one with good credit and one with iffy credit, there is a way to legitimately improve the credit of the not-so-fortunate party.  Adding a person onto an account as an authorized user allows the credit history to be reported in both the authorized user’s name and the primary account holder’s name. Over time, with the credit handled responsibly, this will positively impact both credit reports.

Love and money cannot be separated.  Financial decisions large and small are made each day in a marriage.  For that reason, couples will be well-served to communicate openly about their finances, willingly sharing all sources of income, existing debt obligations, credit reports and scores, along with personal preferences about decisions involving loaning money to family and friends, or attitudes toward spending and saving. Financial baggage can be heavy, but settling differences before walking down the aisle will go a long way toward making happily ever after a reality.

For help combining two incomes and finding the best way to manage two sets of debt, reach out to a trained and certified credit counselor.  To reach Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, Inc, call 712-2060 or go online to www.Cccsbuffalo.org

The NFCC January poll question and results are as follows:

If the person I loved had a large amount of debt, I would

  1. Not marry until the debt was paid = 37%
  2. Marry and pay it off together = 46%
  3. Marry, but not help pay the debt = 10%
  4. End the relationship = 7%

Note: The NFCC’s January Financial Literacy Opinion Index was conducted via the homepage of the NFCC website (www.DebtAdvice.org) from January 1–31, 2014, and was answered by 2,170 individuals.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit credit counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services. NFCC Members annually help millions of consumers through more than 600 community-based offices nationwide. For free and affordable confidential advice through a reputable NFCC Member, call (800) 388-2227, (en EspaƱol (800) 682-9832) or visit www.nfcc.org.  Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NFCCDebtAdvice, on Twitter: twitter.com/NFCCDebtAdvice, on YouTube: www.YouTube.com/NFCC09 and our blog: http://financialeducation.nfcc.org/.

CCCS of Buffalo is a non-profit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and credit repayment assistance to consumers since 1965.  CCCS of Buffalo helps consumers trim expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts.  Counseling is available at our Main Office in West Seneca, in one of our Satellite Offices, by telephone and via Internet.

 

 

Monday, January 6, 2014


Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo Secures Funding For New VOIP Phone System

Two Local Funders underwrite capacity building project

Like many non-profits, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, tries to maximize its’ limited funding. For years, they struggled with an antiquated phone system because they couldn’t afford the high cost of a new system.
Obtaining funding is especially challenging when it is for a project like a new phone system. Funders like to invest in programs that touch peoples’ lives, like educational or medical projects. This leaves non-profits in a difficult position as they are often left without money to pay for administrative expenses.
Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) had a phone system that was ten years old, nearing demise. They realized that a new system would not only enhance their technological abilities, it would save them money as well. During the past ten years, technology has produced many features to increase capacity. A local non-profit who implemented a similar new system last year said that their telecommunications costs went down by 26% this year.
A search for funding began. CCCS applied to the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the Western New York Foundation for a total of $22,000 to purchase and implement a new system.
CCCS announced today that they have received all funding needed to complete this project and both foundations came through with the entire amount.
Significantly, the new system is a VOIP phone system Technology industry analysts herald the next wave of technology as Voice over Internet (VOIP).  Simply put, VOIP is a family of technologies, methodologies, communication protocols, and transmission techniques for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet. Even more simply—it is using the internet to carry voice communications.
Currently, VoIP reaches 5% of the market. Analysts predict that by 2014 that reach will grow to a whopping 80%.
VOIP providers testify that they help companies upgrade their current phone systems and lower costs—up to 80% savings from traditional providers—and that their systems promote more efficient businesses and improve the ability to offer immediate customer service to customers.
The greatest needs that CCCS has are the need to save time and the need to save $$$. CCCS will save at least $7,500 per year with the elimination of long distance calls, and will save countless hours in making reminder calls for appointments. With the new phone system, CCCS will better serve their customers, save money and maximize time with the VOIP system.
Specifically, the new phone system will help CCCS in four ways:
1.      Increase Profitability
·         Intelligent Incoming Call Flow
·         Conference Call Bridges
·         Automated calls from CCCS-Appointment reminders, etc.
·         Call recording to ensure superior customer service for QI purposes
·         Advertising our services through the hold messages on system
2.      Increase Employee Productivity
·         Monitor all calls for coaching purposes
·         Voicemails received over emails
·         Add more users in queue as calls increase for better customer service
3.      Enhance Customer Service
·         Route inbound call intelligently
·         Provide screen pop ups that correlate with our debt management software
·         Automated inbound and outbound calling
4.      Develop New Business Intelligence
·         Gems buried in the data that reports provide
·         Great ability to track the effectiveness of various marketing services such as web banners, radio, Google, Facebook, etc.
The new system also provides increased efficiency of communications within service areas and between staff, constant accessibility--voicemails available through email, ability to make automated calls (appointment reminder calls), auto attendant capabilities, Call routing, Call Forwarding and On Hold Advertising.
“We thank the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the Western New York Foundation for their generous investment,” said Paul C. Atkinson, President & CEO of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo Inc. “By giving us the funding for a new system, they are increasing our capacity to serve our clients. In the end, everyone wins.”
CCCS of Buffalo is a non-profit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and credit repayment assistance to consumers since 1965.  CCCS of Buffalo helps consumers trim expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts.  Counseling is available at our Main Office in West Seneca, in one of our Satellite Offices, by telephone and via Internet.