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Debt Counseling Agency Seeks to Lower Bankruptcies

By Christopher Jamele

Buffalo, NY – The U.S. Senate passed a resolution last month making April "Financial Literacy Month." The designation is an effort to urge consumers to review their personal finances and for those who are struggling to pursue financial counseling.

The effort to increase the public's attention to their personal finances seems most important in this region. Paul Atkinson, President and CEO of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo states that bankruptcies in Buffalo and Western New York exceed the growing national average.

"Traditionally, we continue to lead the nation in bankruptcies when they are high," Atkinson said. "In terms of recovery, we seem to be the slowest, and that is what is happening right now."

Any number of reasons can cause someone to fall into financial difficulties. Atkinson claims that counseling can help a person successfully work through their debts.

"We try to counsel and help people get themselves out of it and establish a disciplined program of repayment," Atkinson said. "The creditors will work with them rather than go through the bankruptcy proceeding."

Atkinson also suggests that a personal assessment of one's debts, financial responsibilities and income should be done before financial issues become overwhelming.

"The first step is sitting down and really taking a hard look at what you have and don't have," Atkinson said. "It is the very best and first step to take."

Personal finances and possible bankruptcy conditions vary with each individual. Atkinson advises consumers to seek financial advice through accredited, non-profit agencies that offer a variety of services and to avoid telemarketing services.