High levels of debt are jeopardizing the retirements of seniors across the United States. For those in financial difficulty, however, there are many free or low-cost resources that can help ease their financial burden. According to the Employment Benefit Research Institute, the percentage of American families with a head of household aged 75 or older carrying debt climbed to 38.5 percent in 2010 from 31.2 percent in 2001. In 1992, about 25 percent of Americans aged 65 to 74 had debt tied to their home; but that rate reached 41 percent by 2010. Seniors who struggle with debt must first downsize their expenses, such as cable or phone bills. Resources for financial help include local senior centers; a state or local "Office on Aging;" and BenefitsCheckUp.org, a Web site run by the National Council on Aging. Consumers should never make a large upfront payment to a debt consolidator. Many states run legal-advice hotlines or other specialized programs such as Elder Law of Michigan. Many seniors are experiencing debt problems because their financial plans never accounted for sharp increases in property taxes. Some seniors may turn to credit-consolidation companies to manage their debt, but these can be tricky to navigate.