Have you seen the surge of TV ads claiming that if you owe more than $10,000 the company can reduce your payments to $167 a month! Have you seen other TV ads claiming they are acting on behalf of the Federal Government and can assist you if you are in debt or about to forclose? If you have seen any of these ads, change the channel! This ads are deceptive!! According to an article in AARP concerning fraud, an agency can tell you that their method of easing your financial burden is to force creditors “to accept pennies on the dollar by warning that clients could exhaust their assets and leave the creditors hanging. First of all, not all of your creditors are likely to go along. Second, when a creditor does give in, the unpaid portion of your debt doesn’t disappear. It can be reported as bad debt, delivering another devastiating blow to your credit score, and the IRS counts forgiven debt as taxable income, so you could end up owing taxes big time.” Currently, there are credit counseling agencies that are under investigation by the FTC. Keep in mind that any time you use a credit counseling agency, even the best among them, it affects your FICO score. Experts advise that you begin researching as many credit counseling agencies as possible. NEVER pay a credit counseling agency - they are supposed to offer their services free of charge. Credit counseling agencies use debt management plans to get you back on track. They negotiate with creditors to reduce interest rates and they may charge a monthly fee as well as a percentage of the debt owed. This may not be what you need. Talk to counselors who will go over your budget and make necessary modifications. This is the better alternative, especially if you are deeply in debt and need assistance. It will require sacrifice on your part. Spending less and paying down debt has become the norm, rather than the exception. But if you truly want to be debt free, you CAN do it.