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Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Credit counseling agency
loses accreditation

By Peter Wagner


Hawaii Credit Counseling, a nonprofit agency that helps people find their way out of debt, has lost its membership in the National Foundation for Credit Counseling for failing to meet accreditation standards.

The National Foundation recently revoked Hawaii Credit's membership after the agency lost accreditation by the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services. Membership in the National Foundation requires accreditation by a third party.

"We regret the removal of Hawaii Credit Counseling from our membership," said Durant Abernethy, president and chief executive at National Foundation. "However, we must maintain high standards and policies to protect the many consumers who look to NFCC members for quality credit counseling and education services annually."

A spokesman for Hawaii Credit Counseling did not return calls from the Star-Bulletin requesting comment. Officials at the Council on Accreditation would not disclose reasons for their March 16 revocation, citing confidentiality constraints. They said, however, that such revocations are rare, with only two or three occurring last year.

According to Abernethy, however, the action was taken because Hawaii Credit filed what appeared to be a fraudulent audited financial statement, documentation required for accreditation.

Abernethy noted that consumers in Honolulu may contact Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Hawaii, an accredited member in good standing.

The organization's 1,468 member offices offer confidential counseling on debt management and budgeting. More than a million people were counseled by NFCC members last year in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.

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