Debt counseling refers to the help that is offered and provided by debt counseling centers for people with debt problems or in a situation of over-indebtedness in the form of advice and help in psycho-social, financial and legal respects. Debt counseling is part of general social counseling .
In Germany, 570,000 people sought debt counseling in 2018.
How the advice centers work
Well-developed debt counseling centers are based on a holistic counseling concept. In the best case, they involve qualified social workers , social pedagogues , psychologists , business administrators and lawyers . Most often, qualified social pedagogues and qualified social workers act as consultants in the positions.
The most urgent goal of counseling ( systemic social work ) is to meet the elementary needs of people seeking advice and their relatives (living space, electricity and food) in a timely manner by exhausting all possibilities. In the medium term, psycho-social stabilization, the activation of self-help potential and, in the long term, complete debt regulation are sought. In Germany, the Insolvency Code (InsO) enables overindebted people to be released from their remaining debts . After the opening of consumer insolvency proceedings and the expiry of a six-year "good conduct period" or "good conduct phase", a court order may be given an obligation to pay. Advice aimed at carrying out consumer insolvency proceedings is insolvency advice . In practice, most advice centers are debt and insolvency advice centers.
State recognition in Germany
The term debt counseling is not protected by law, nor is there a minimum qualification or regulated training for debt counselors. The frequently used term “state recognition” relates solely to the authorization to issue a certificate of the unsuccessfulness of the prescribed out-of-court settlement attempt in the context of consumer insolvency proceedings (InsO § 305 Paragraph 1 No. 1 last sentence: “The federal states can determine which Persons or positions are to be regarded as suitable. "). The criteria according to which this recognition is carried out by the state authorities are not uniform across the country. State recognition is not a proof of quality for advice from the agency. This applies equally to reputable, state-recognized private institutions as well as to bodies that work in the sponsorship of local authorities or recognized charities.
Debt advice in Austria
There are ten state-recognized debt counseling services in Austria with central offices in the provincial capitals and 18 regional offices. Advice is provided throughout Austria, free of charge and confidentially.
Most of the state-recognized debt advisory services in Austria are organized as private law, non-profit associations. Some are integrated into public institutions (e.g. magistrate) or organized as a non-profit company with limited liability. They are largely financed by the public sector (federal states, cities, labor market service, other institutions).
State-recognized debt counseling work on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Justice and are subject to special quality criteria. Since 2008, the “state-approved debt counseling services” have had a seal of approval that gives greater security with regard to the available advisory services and makes recognized debt advisory services different from other providers. State-recognized debt advisors are entitled to represent debtors in the debt settlement process in court.
Each state-recognized debt advice center is represented with a seat and a vote on the advisory board of the umbrella organization ASB Debt Advice. This was founded as an association in 1992 and converted into a GmbH in 2002.
State-recognized debt advisors strive to find sustainable solutions. In addition to direct support with debt settlement, attention is also paid to the reasons for indebtedness and over-indebtedness.
- Ulf Groth (Ed.): Practical Guide Debt Counseling . Luchterhand Fachverlag , 2009, loose-leaf collection with updates ( DNB ).
- Mattes Christoph: In the shadow of consumer history. A criticism of how social work processes consumer debt. Basel 2007
- Peter Schruth u. a .: Debt counseling in social work . Juventa, 2003.
- Jana Simon : Track attendant at the terminus. In: Die Zeit , No. 21/2006, page 8 - In the series: Heroes of Today (4): “People come to Carlo Wahrmann who don't know what to do next. Usually they come too late. He's a debt advisor. "
- Online debt counseling: German Caritas Association and Federal Working Group on debt counseling
- Overview of debt counseling in European countries in German and English from the debt counseling center at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
- Federal Working Group on Debt Counseling
- Working group for debt counseling of associations (AG SBV)
- Web portal of the state-recognized debt counseling in Austria