Debt held by Americans recently passed the $1 trillion — and with so many people trying to pay back their debts, there’s no shortage of companies that claim to be able to help them do just that or fix their credit scores.

But a report by the Better Business Bureau shows some of those companies don’t help and can actually make things worse.

A report by the Better Business Bureau, which looked at credit repair and debt relief, observed a pattern formed by collecting 11,000 complaints.

First, free credit reports can be done through Don’t pay or give payment information until you receive service.

Be critical when looking at their guarantees. Call debt holders yourself to negotiate lower payments.

If a company won’t tell you about your rights in these transactions — don’t use them.

Be cautious of anybody claiming to be working for a government agency.

If you need to report your own experiences with a credit repair or debt assistance company, you can call the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-Help.

You can also contact the Michigan Attorney General’s Office at 517-335-7622.