Pre-filing Bankruptcy Counseling
People who are filing for bankruptcy are required to receive Pre-Filing Credit Counseling from an approved agency before they can file.
Pre-filing bankruptcy counseling takes about 90 minutes. Your counselor will ask for information about your income, household expenses and debt, so a full budget analysis can be made. Alternatives to bankruptcy, advantages and disadvantages of bankruptcy, and the bankruptcy process will be explained. We also explain any options that may help your financial situation.
Interpreters provided upon request for non-English speakers and the hearing impaired at no cost. No one is turned away if they cannot afford to pay.
We receive financial support from various funders, including the United Way, grants, and some funding comes from voluntary contributions from creditors who participate in debt management plans (DMP). Since creditors have a financial interest in having debts repaid, most are willing to contribute to help fund the overall services of this agency. These contributions are usually calculated as a percentage of payments that are made through a DMP. If you decide to enter a DMP, you will receive specific information on how the plan works and how the agency is funded.
We do not pay or receive referral fees for the referral of clients.
You can negotiate an alternative payment schedule regarding each consumer debt.
We may disclose client information to the United States Trustee in connection with the United States Trustee’s oversight of the agency, or during the investigation of complaints, during on-site visits, or during quality of service reviews.
The United States Trustees has reviewed only the agency’s credit counseling services and the fact that the United States Trustee has neither reviewed nor approved any other services the agency provides to clients.
To register for telephone counseling, please contact us to obtain our intake forms that you will need to fill out and return to us before your appointment is setup with a counselor.
The online course takes about 90 minutes to complete. You must use a laptop or desktop computer to complete the course online. The session can be restarted if you are interrupted. You may also go back to the course for a period of one year to review the course material.
The course material is the same material that a counselor uses when doing in-person or telephone counseling. Fees of $50 per person or $100 per couple are paid using a valid credit or debit card to purchase the course online. Please call our office at 800-366-8161 to find out how to access the course if your fee is to be waived.
Please read and accept our disclosures and privacy statements.
To register for telephone counseling, please contact us to obtain our intake forms that you will need to fill out and return to us before your appointment is set up with a counselor. You may fill them out on-line.
Please read and accept our disclosures and privacy statements before we get personal information from you or giving you financial counseling services.
Frequently Asked Questions
We offer bankruptcy counseling guidance to help you understand all your options, including the advantages, disadvantages and alternatives to filing for bankruptcy such as a debt management program.
- You will need a valid email address, your Social Security number, a credit/debit card for payment and a daytime phone number to register for the course.
- Before taking the online course, you should gather copies of your last month’s pay stubs, mortgage payments, utility bills and your checkbook. You will be asked to enter information about expenses throughout the course.
- After you complete the course a certified counselor will review your material. The review will include the interactive worksheets and the amount of time you spent on the material. When the counselor’s review is completed, you will be contacted to see if you have any questions. Prior to receiving your Certificate of Completion, you will need to verify your driver’s license number and Social Security number. Your Certificate of Completion will be emailed or mailed to you.
When counseling is completed, it is our obligation to provide you promptly with a Certificate of Completion within one business day that you will need should you decide to file for bankruptcy. The certificate is valid for 180 days from the date the counseling is completed. After that date the certificate expires.
Fees for bankruptcy counseling are $50 per person or $100 per couple. With couples, both individuals must complete the course. Fees may be waived if the client's household current income is less than 150% of the poverty guidelines updated periodically in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
There is no additional fee associated with generation of the certificate.
The consumer credit counselor conducting or supervising this session has been trained and certified in accordance with the NFCC standards, and while he/she has expertise in helping those with financial problems, he/she cannot provide you with legal advice. In fact, this session is designed to provide you with information and alternative; it is not intended to take the place of a consultation with an attorney to explore your legal rights and options.
We will discuss any potential impacts on credit reports of all alternatives that we discuss with you. You may provide additional information that pre-bankruptcy counseling services do not produce a negative impact on a consumer’s credit score. If the client enrolls in a DMP, a notation may appear on their report that the consumer is making payments through a third party and that the account is closed. That notation is noted at the discretion of the lender and a consumer’s score is not negatively affected simply by enrolling in a DMP. Filing for Bankruptcy does negatively impact a consumer’s credit report. The bankruptcy notation will remain on the report for a period of up to 10 years.