THE BRONX - Debt settlement is the city's top fraud, according to the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Nearly one in five New Yorkers have credit card debt exceeding $10,000. However, many turn to fraudulent companies to try and get the debt resolved.

Many debt settlement companies say they will settle a debt for less than owed and charge an upfront fee. They often ask a client to stop paying a credit card company and pay into an escrow account. However, they sometimes don't give the funds to the credit card company and the debt increases.

New York offers free legal and financial counseling for those saddled with debt.