State-approved debt counseling in Austria
There are 10 state-approved debt counseling centers in Austria. They are represented in all federal states and work free of charge for people in debt.
They offer their service on behalf of the public sector and are financed by public funds.
Together with debtors, the debt counselors work out ways to find a solution for existing debts. This also includes support in private bankruptcy proceedings. In addition to debt settlement, debt counseling centers also work toward long-term financial stabilization of individuals. The state-approved centers also offer financial education for young people and young adults.
The 10 debt counseling centers are coordinated by an umbrella organization – ASB Schuldnerberatungen GmbH (asb) – based in Linz. The umbrella organization as well as all state- recognized centers work according to the internationally recognized ISO 9001 quality management system.
State recognition as a special feature
State recognition is a special feature of debt counseling in Austria. It can be recognized by its own public seal. This seal of approval enables consumers to recognize public debt counseling centers that work free of charge. State recognition also allows debt counseling centers to represent debtors in private bankruptcy proceedings before the courts.
Only after meeting certain legal criteria may a counseling center receive “state recognition”:
- The organization may not be profit-oriented.
- The counseling must be free of charge for the clients.
- There must be at least three full-time debt counselors.
- There must be a contemporary quality management.
- The organization must have at least two years of practical experience in the field of debt counseling.
Coordination by an umbrella organization
The umbrella organization ASB Schuldnerberatungen GmbH (asb) acts as an interface between the state-approved counseling centers. The tasks of the umbrella organization include:
- Promoting networking and professional exchange
- Training of debt counselors throughout Austria
- Coordination of joint quality management
- Austria-wide media and lobbying work
- Preparation of statistics
- Implementation of activities, national and international projects
Contemporary quality management
For more than 20 years, the 10 state-approved debt counseling centers have developed common quality standards. Since 2012, the counseling centers have been certified according to the internationally recognized ISO 9001 standard and are audited on a regular basis.
The state-recognized debt counseling centers employ qualified staff who have been specially trained for their work and regularly undergo further training.
Further information: www.schuldenberatung.at