Q: I have spoke to a certified credit counselor at CCCS of Greater Atlanta and may be interested in signing up for a debt management program (DMP) which would help me pay off my credit card debt. I have heard different views about using a DMP and wanted to ask you some questions.

Does the fact that I’m in a DMP stay on my credit for up to seven years like a Chapter 13 bankruptcy? The agency says that once I am done with the program it never shows up that I was in a DMP.

Should I go into a DMP or will I trash my credit score. I don’t know what to do. Please help.

A: There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding debt management programs, and I believe a lot of the misinformation comes from credit repair scam shops that are looking for your business.

To the best of my knowledge, CCCS of Greater Atlanta (CCCSAtl.org) is steering you straight: Being in a DMP will not hurt your credit (your credit score is probably already pretty awful) and it will not show up once you are done with the program.

In fact, CCCS works with a number of lenders nationwide to help facilitate the extension of new credit to those going through their DMPs. Getting new lines of credit open, and managing them well, will help you to repair your own credit history faster.

Feb. 27, 2009