With personal bankruptcies nearing a record high, federal regulators issued a rare joint advisory last week warning the millions of Americans who turn to credit-counseling agencies each year to make sure they are dealing with legitimate nonprofits. The IRS is auditing a number of debt consolidators to see if they are abusing their tax-exempt status. Red flags to look for:
--Promises to help you "get out of debt easily" or remove negatives from your credit report
--High monthly fees or required "voluntary contributions"
--A push into repayment plans without help setting a budget.
To check out a specific nonprofit, ask state...