BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Debt is daunting. Fortunately, there are many debt-management counselors there to help when you're in over your head.Unfortunately, there are some debt-settlement companies out to fleece you. Over the past decade, the Federal Trade Commission and state enforcers have brought a combined 259 cases against so-called debt-relief providers that have deceived or otherwise abused clients who are already down on their luck. Here are five ways to avoid being a victim. 1. Don't choose a for-profit debt-management agency. There are many agencies dedicated to advising consumers on the art of debt management, including offering budgeting advice and, sometimes, negotiating lower interest rates and monthly payments with creditors. Find one that isn't solely out to take more of your money. Don't be afraid to ask whether a credit counselor will get a commission for signing you up for a debt-management plan. If the answer is yes, go elsewhere. "First and foremost you want to look for a nonprofit," says Ali Mahood, a financial-education consultant in Boston. "For-profit companies will charge high fees and they don't
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