While there are many legitimate credit counseling agencies, there are also several that have deceived consumers about their services. Some have even been prosecuted by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general for fraud and misrepresentation. So be careful. If you’re working with one of these companies, it doesn’t hurt to follow up and make sure they’re paying your bills according to your debt management plan. And give your creditors a call to confirm that the payments you’re sending to the credit agency actually are being applied toward your bills. If you discover a problem, and a credit agency doesn’t have a valid excuse, contact the FTC or your state attorney general immediately to complain. One final suggestion: If you have enough debt problems to contact a credit counseling agency, you’re probably better off at least talking to an attorney first. That’s because an attorney is the only professional who can advise you of all of your legal options and explain how to best protect your legal rights.