"In most cases," says attorney Richard C. Wills, "bankruptcy should be use as a last resort. I'd hope people would go for credit counseling as soon as they start falling behind on their bills."

Wills advises against using do-it-yourself kits and stresses the necessity of a competent lawyer. Most charge about $400, he says, and will accept payment in installments.

For information and help with credit problems or bankruptcy:

The Consumer Credit Counseling and Education Service of Greater Washington offers free or low-cost credit counseling. Phone: 638-6996.

The Consumer Help Bankruptcy Clinic at George Washington University provides legal assistance to District families with an income of $12,000 or less, for a cost of $15, plus the $60 filing fee. Phone: 676-4971.

Antioch School of Law Consumer Protection Clinic's Bankruptcy Division gives legal assistance to qualified low-income or unemployed individuals (preferably from the District) for a $15 fee, plus the $60 filing fee. Phone: 265-9500, Ext. 336.

The American Bankruptcy Council will send a free "consumer guide to bankruptcy." Write 2525 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, Calif. 94109.

The American Bar Association's booklet "Your Guide to Consumer Credit and Bankruptcy" is available by sending $1 to the American Bar Association, 1155 East 60th Street, Chicago, Ill. 60637.

The National Consumer Finance Association's "Guide to the Bankruptcy Act of 1978" is available for $2.50 from their office at 1000 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.