Dear Harry: We have run into a string of bad luck. My wife lost her job in November, and my hours were cut back from 40-plus to 35 in order for the company to avoid any layoffs. You can guess what is happening. We are behind in our credit-card payments, but we are still OK on our mortgage. Those commercials we see on TV and hear on radio for credit repair are starting to sound attractive. The trouble is that we have some friends who were hurt by unscrupulous operators. Is there a way of separating the foxes from the hens? If not, what can we do to help us get things under control?

What Harry says: The problem of seperating the good from the bad applies to almost every service in some way. It's absolutely impossible for me to determine who the good guys are in the credit-repair or counseling business. As a result, I have to go with the operators who I know are on the level from the experience of other readers. Let me assure you that there are certainly others around who do a good and honest job, but I can only recommend the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley. Their phone number is 215-563-5665. I'm happy that you reached me before you got too far behind. *

Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. Harry urges all his readers to give blood - contact the American Red Cross at 800-GIVE LIFE.