Barry-Smith said not all counselors clearly stipulate that debt management or debt consolidation can harm someone's credit rating.
David Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, said the industry is aware of past abuses by some counselors and is cracking down on the problem. "We have very strong standards,'' he said of his membership requirements.
But Plunkett said one of the problems is simply trying to determine which counselors provide quality work and which don't.
"I've covered this industry for seven years,'' he said, ``and even I have a hard time figuring out'' who provides good services.