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Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 11:39 AM   #1
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Debt Consolidation Companies

Hi all - I just found out that my admin assistant is in a really bad mess. Her new husband has been unemployed for 6 months and he's an alcoholic! Anyway, I've heard radio ads about debt consolidation services, etc. - they say it's free, but is it really?

I would hate to refer her to some organization off the internet and make her situation worse than it is so thought you guys might have read something about these services.... she has an ARM (she isn't worried about her mortgage payments because it's in 'his' name) so she needs help asap.

Thanks!
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 11:42 AM   #2
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

Tread carefully. There are many debt counselors that are basically fronts for high interest subprime mortgage originators.

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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 11:47 AM   #3
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearkeley
Hi all - I just found out that my admin assistant is in a really bad mess...I would hate to refer her to some organization off the internet and make her situation worse than it is so thought you guys might have read something about these services
Sure you want to get that directly or peronally involved?

Does your corp have an employee assistance program?
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 12:37 PM   #4
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Sure you want to get that directly or peronally involved?
What Rich said. "New husband", "unemployed for 6 months" and "alcoholic" are all big red flags and you may want to be careful about getting more than marginally involved in what may prove to be a very messy situation.

Once upon a time I tried helping a family that was dysfunctional on many levels. I learned my lesson very quickly.
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 02:02 PM   #5
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

Consumer credit counseling programs are looked at by creditors as being like filing bankruptcy.* Almost all are scams.* Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) itself is slightly legit, but I still wouldn't recommend it to her.* Many times they send payments to the creditors late, making problems worse.
What they said:* yield to those red flags and stay out of what promises to be a messy personal situation.
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 02:05 PM   #6
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

Thanks all. * You're absolutely right. *Thanks for putting things in perspective again. * I should know better - I'm an HR professional!!!! * I will have our HR Director refer her to the EAP folks. * I guess it's just awful to know someone who can be in this much of a mess! *

We, folks on this board, are just so lucky for having the financial savvy (or at least the smarts to learn more) to not be in situations like hers...she's the hardest working person I know!
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 02:43 PM   #7
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

Does my sister work for you?
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 02:55 PM   #8
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearkeley
Thanks all. * You're absolutely right. *Thanks for putting things in perspective again. * I should know better - I'm an HR professional!!!! * I will have our HR Director refer her to the EAP folks. * I guess it's just awful to know someone who can be in this much of a mess! *
That's why employers offer EAPs.* You are now seeing how difficult it is to guide people who are close to you.*

When personal problems cause work issues you can make utilization of the EAP a requirement for emloyment.* Your HR Director is in a position to verify utilization.
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 03:08 PM   #9
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

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Originally Posted by Brat
That's why employers offer EAPs.* You are now seeing how difficult it is to guide people who are close to you.*

When personal problems cause work issues you can make utilization of the EAP a requirement for emloyment.* Your HR Director is in a position to verify utilization.

Brat, being the suspicious bastard that I am, I would never consider using an employer-provided EAP simply due to issues of privacy/disclosure. Is this a legit concern?
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 03:34 PM   #10
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

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Originally Posted by brewer12345

Brat, being the suspicious bastard that I am, I would never consider using an employer-provided EAP simply due to issues of privacy/disclosure. Is this a legit concern?
I agree with you Brewer, an employer provided assistance program would be the last place I would want to go looking for help from. Assurances of privacy are good, but nothing is perfect. When my employer re-centralized a big chunk of the agency in one 30 story building, they put the pshrinks next door to the IAD headhunters. It took them all of three months to realize that their voluntary workload had dropped to nothing because the rat squad was next door.

But, I think the key to Brat's post was that it's when personal problems become work problems that enrollment is mandatory. It was a simple choice, go into the program or find a new job. It sounds cold or cruel, but the truth of it all was explained to me once by a recovering alcoholic who became a trainer in dealing with employee problems: The best thing they ever did for me was to tell me to stop drinking or they would fire me.

Two decades of dealing with employees' work performance issues that were caused by personal issues made me see the value in that man's statement. I could offer some kind words and occasionally make some allowances here and there, but in the end the best thing I could do was tell them that their work performance had to be maintained at acceptable levels.
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 03:41 PM   #11
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

Good third party EAPs require a confidentiality agreement and are not co-located with the employer. *Psy (which can include drug treatment counseling) are subject to the same requirements as medical records, anything along that line is filed separately and contents are need-to-know. *Notice that I said that the employee is utilizing the service, not the specifics of the service.

Financial counseling isn't subject to the same protection, but in this case I really think it is the least of a long list of concerns.

What can happen is if the EAP asks for more re-imb because they have a complicated situation and they must explain why to the person who is handling the contract - just like a medical treatment provider.

What employers and employees must avoid are 'in-house' EAPs. *There was a nasty mess in ID a few years back that ended up in litigation. *It turned out that the Psy wasn't licenced to practice. *The employer ended up paying back wages to the employee and paying for what amounted to malpractice.
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 04:04 PM   #12
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

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Originally Posted by Brat
Good third party EAPs require a confidentiality agreement and are not co-located with the employer. Psy (which can include drug treatment counseling) are subject to the same requirements as medical records, anything along that line is filed separately and contents are need-to-know. Notice that I said that the employee is utilizing the service, not the specifics of the service.

What employers and employees must avoid are 'in-house' EAPs. There was a nasty mess in ID a few years back that ended up in litigation. It turned out that the Psy wasn't licenced to practice. The employer ended up paying back wages to the employee and paying for what amounted to malpractice.
Those are all good points. Unfortunately (or maybe not, depending on how you look at it) being in public safety work does not allow us to have drug or dangerous psychological problems and get treatment from the employer without them being notified. Tough on the employee, but the bosses already have problems enough sleeping at night worrying about what the minions are doing running around with guns and nearly autonomous authority without having to worry if any of them are confidentially in rehab or telling the pshrink how they want to do "something spectacular".
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 04:57 PM   #13
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

This is an area where Employment Lawyers earn their fees.

A person seeking treatment for drug addiction who is subject to DOT requirements cannot work in that occupation while using.*

If an employee seeks treatment BEFORE failing an employment drug test they may be suspended but not fired in many states (the theory is that professional treatment is better than the employee toughing it out or using without treatment).* The employer may subject them to periodic testing after their return.* Where things get tricky is where the employer had a prohibition against any felony level illegal activity, the drug is an illegal drug but the employee has not been convicted for drug use (some people become addicted to a legally prescribed drug and require treatment).*

The grey area here is if an employee seeks drug treatment while employed in a non-sensitive occupation, for example a data entry operator.* That is where 'last chance agreements' come into play.* If the treatment is outside the employment relationship the risk of disclosure is less than if they obtained treatment through their employer health plan or EAP.*

Usually the EAP is used by family members impacted by drug or alcohol use while the user is treated through the medical plan. The OP is dealing with a family member of an alcoholic; she is not doing anything illegal or improper.* She needs help to deal with a relationship that is causing her grief.* The EAP is the perfect place to start.
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 10:00 PM   #14
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

Fortunatey, we are lucky to have a 3rd party EAP. All we actually do is give the employee the 800# and they refer the employee to a counselor, etc. The fact that it is so detached from our operations, I think, is why I felt compelled to do something more.

I didn't realize we had an employment lawyer on this board! Can we start a folder for free legal advice? (It would help me with my plans to retire earlier than planned!)
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-13-2006, 11:23 PM   #15
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

Hey, I am not a lawyer.* I had 26+ of employment law enforcement on both coasts, and did time in corporate HR.* I think the professional symbol should be a shovel.* *
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies
Old 07-16-2006, 10:40 PM   #16
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Re: Debt Consolidation Companies

I have dealt with a similar episode as a manager, and believe the EAP is the better choice. The new husband's illness may also be more than a financial issue impacting your employee. This is something best left to a trained professional.
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