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HUNTINGTON, Utah — Fortunately, the coal mining and oil well industries here are still quite strong in this rural town about an hour and a half outside of Provo.But for members of Desertview Federal Credit Union who jumped on the real estate investment bandwagon, the outcome is not as rosy, said Holly Sebring, a collections and marketing specialist at the $29.8 million financial institution. Calls about credit scores and debt management started to increase, she noticed.“Some of our members who don’t live here were in the house consultation business,” Sebring said. “Now, they can’t afford some things, like what they’re driving.”To help those members in a financial slump, Desertview teamed up in November with Accel, a financial education and counseling program that has been assisting individuals for more than 45 years. The credit union pays a monthly fee to Accel so that members can have free access to their credit reports and assistance with money management, debt repayment and housing counseling. Accel also provides its BudgetSmart software as a further way to manage finances. Members can either go online or talk to a live representative to explain their plight. If needed, a follow-up session is scheduled.Sebring said she anticipates that all of the budgeting tools will go far in helping Desertview’s membership, which fall into the 30 years old and up bracket. A quarter of the credit union’s 5,000 members speak Spanish. Bilingual counselors are available to help with translations. Ultimately, the hope is to stave off repossessions, foreclosures and bankruptcies.“We really need to offer this to our members because we didn’t have anyone in house [that specialized in these types of services],” Sebring explained. “Especially in the economy right now, it’s just something good to have.”Desertview did its research and discovered that the credit union may be the only financial institution in the area offering debt management services. Founded in 1960 as community-chartered-Castle Valley FCU, in 1981 the name changed to Desertview as a result of a merger with American Coal FCU. Today, residents of Emery County make up the field of membership.In its search for a financial counseling alliance, the credit union was tipped off about Accel, a CUNA strategic partner. Sebring said the company’s mission was a perfect fit for Desertview.“We’re looking at the member as more than a number. The knowledge they receive is worth it,” Sebring said of the expenses for the new service.–[email protected]

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