If the credit counselor charges an up-front fee for assisting you, this could be a sign of fraud. A legitimate counselor is affiliated with some national body, like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). It should also be accredited by some accrediting body. Most legitimate credit counseling service providers are 501 (c) (3) nonprofit community organizations. This means they are not attempting to profit from your situation, and are “more” legitimate than for-profit providers. Also, look out for providers who say their fees are “voluntary”. This could be a sign of a scam.