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Consumer debt relief is big business, and don't you forget it. For every legitimate, nonprofit certified credit counseling agency out there, there are fifty more scam agencies who will woo you with claims of lowering or eliminating your debt—for a fee, of course--sometimes as much as thousands of dollars. These companies will promise to cut your debt in half by negotiating lower payoffs with your creditors. Or they promise to get your creditors to add a comment that the debt was "paid in full" to your credit report. The truth is that while your credit card companies might agree to accept half of what you owe them, you may end up having to pay income tax on the amount they write off. Plus, even though your credit report says "paid in full," a notation that says, "credit not paid per agreement" remains on your credit report. Debt relief tips are easy to come by, however, the only true debt relief plan is a debt management plan set up by a certified credit counselor—or by you. If you have the wherewithal, the organizational skills, and the follow-through to stick with the plan, you can contact each and every one of your creditors and negotiate your own debt repayment plan potentially saving yourself thousands of dollars in fees, avoiding IRS liability, and improving your credit report as you make consistent, on-time payments and build your self-esteem while you whittle away your debt.