When someone in Illinois winds up in hot financial water because of insurmountable bills, too often the greatest burden of guilt is self-imposed. No one is better at making us feel bad about ourselves than us. Unfortunately, credit card issues know this. So do the credit rating reporting companies. And the industry knows how to take advantage of individual consumer debt trouble.

It should come as no surprise that there is plenty of guilt to go around when it comes to the credit industry. All you have to do is attend to the news headlines to know this.

Not long ago, The New York Times reported that federal regulators are getting set to issue new rules to make it harder for debt collectors to hound borrowers.

Then there was the recent item in The Washington Post under the headline, “How the careless errors of credit reporting agencies are ruining people’s lives.” Not only are the files of the agencies corrupt with mistakes, but the people that manage them often don’t seem to be in any hurry to make corrections when errors are abundantly clear. It can take weeks or even months, by which time one’s credit rating may have tanked.

There are laws on the books that are supposed to ensure unscrupulous collectors don’t hound consumers to distraction. Reporting agencies also face legal requirements to ensure integrity. What’s clear is that regulations aren’t always enforced and that most consumers, unaware of their rights, don’t know what options they have, such as bankruptcy, for protection and relief.

You can take the initiative on your own behalf when you contact a skilled attorney. Learn your rights. Explore your options.