The Credit Counseling Course:
It's required to file, but easy to complete
Before you’re legally allowed to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are required to complete a Credit Counseling Course with an agency listed in the registry of the U.S. Trustee’s office.
Keep in mind: this requirement is not optional. Many bankruptcy cases have been thrown out because the individual filing did not complete or file the credit counseling certification and bankruptcy judges have hardly any room to waive or offer an extension to complete this step. It cannot be stressed enough that the course must be completed before you file you bankruptcy petition.
You may complete the Credit Counseling Course in person, over the telephone or via the Internet/online. Sessions that qualify include an evaluation of your personal finances, discussion of any possible alternatives to bankruptcy, and help you design a personal budget plan.
After you’ve finished, you’ll get a certificate of proof that you must include with your filing.
Where Can I Locate an Credit Counseling Agency that the Court Approves?
There are many options for affordable, interactive, online credit counseling that are approved directly from the U.S. Trustee's Office. Your Bankruptcy Attorney may also suggest a provider.
Is Credit Counseling Expensive?
No. The U.S. Trustee’s office states that the average course runs about $50. Law requires an approved agency to tell you the fees up front, without any extra cost for issuing the certificate.
When Should I Complete My Credit Counseling Course?
You must have completed the credit counseling briefing within six months before you file the bankruptcy petition. However, you can complete this course online in as little as a few hours the day before your attorney files your bankruptcy petition.
How Long Does the Credit Counseling Course take to Complete?
Each course is different and times vary. However, online courses can be completed in just a few hours. These are the quickest way to satisfy the requirement to complete a course.
I Have my Credit Counseling Certificate—Now What?
Your bankruptcy lawyer will file the credit counseling certificate along with your bankruptcy petition, as proof that you have observed the pre-filing requirement. Most online programs let will give a copy of this certificate to your attorney automatically if you provide their information.
Are there Any Exceptions to the Credit Counseling Requirement?
Generally, no. There are very limited exceptions to the credit counseling requirement, and these are strictly prescribed by statute. Bankruptcy court judges have little or no authority to waive the credit counseling requirement. If for some reason you think you may not be able to complete the credit counseling requirement, speak with your bankruptcy attorney far in advance of your planned filing date to see whether or not you might fall under an exception and what documentation might be required.
Is This the Same Thing as the “Debtor Education” Course?
No, the Credit Counseling Briefing and the Debtor Education Course are two completely separate programs with separate certificates. However, you must successfully complete both if you are to receive a discharge in your bankruptcy filing. The Credit Counseling Course is done before bankruptcy filing, while the Debtor Education Course takes place after filing, but before discharge.
Whatever you choose to do, don’t let your creditors control your life any longer. Look at STEP 3 and learn more about the process. Then, contact us and let us take it from there.