The Credit Counseling Certificate
Before filing for bankruptcy, you usually must receive credit counseling and a certificate showing that the counseling has been completed. The counseling must take place within the 180 days before filing, and in Illinois and Missouri, it must be provided by an organization approved by the Justice Department’s U.S. Trustee’s Program. In Missouri, you must file the certificate proving that you have completed credit counseling at the same time that you file your bankruptcy petition. In Illinois, you only need to file a form that states you have completed the course before filing.
What Happens During Credit Counseling?
A typical pre-filing credit counseling session lasts approximately 30 minutes. Most often, the class is done online or over the phone, no personal contact is necessary. The credit counselor reviews your personal financial picture with you and will talk to you your income and expenses. The information you provide to the credit counseling company has no effect on the bankruptcy filing and won’t be submitted to your bankruptcy attorney or court. The only reason to do the certificate is to obtain the certificate for filing bankruptcy. Some clients say it is a waste of time and money, others say they learned interesting information about budgeting and finances in general.
How much does it cost?
The usual fee for a pre-filing credit counseling session varies, but such fees average around $15 for the online course. It is normally more expensive doing it over the phone or in person. Our office will provide you with a list of approved credit counseling agencies when you start your case. If you cannot pay the fee, you can request a waiver, but you should do this before starting the counseling session.
Once the session is complete, you should receive the certificate proving that you underwent counseling. The credit counseling organization is not allowed to charge an extra fee for providing the certificate.
Provide a copy of the credit counseling certificate to your bankrutpcy attorney. The fasted way is to request that the counseling agency fax or email a copy of the certificate directly to your attorney. Your attorney need the certificate in order to file your bankruptcy case.