What is Mandatory Credit Counseling?

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Mandatory Credit Counseling Before Filing Bankruptcy


Consumer credit counseling is a two part process.

Pre-bankruptcy credit counseling

In order to apply for bankruptcy protection, either under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, in the six months preceding your bankruptcy filing you must receive credit counseling from an organization approved by the Department of Justice's U.S. Trustee Program, except in Alabama and North Carolina where court officials (called Bankruptcy Administrators) approve pre-bankruptcy credit counseling services.


The pre-bankruptcy credit counseling session with the approved credit counseling organization should include:

  • an evaluation of your personal financial situation;
  • a discussion of the alternatives to bankruptcy; and
  • a personal budget plan.

A typical credit counseling session will last for about one hour. While these sessions are typically provided in a face to face meeting between the debtor and the credit counselor, they can also be conducted by phone or online.

What fees are charged for mandatory pre-bankruptcy filing credit counseling?

The credit counseling organization will typically charge a fee of approximately $50 for the session, although these fees will vary based on where you live, the types of services you receive, you ability to pay, and how the counseling was delivered. The counseling organization must disclose all fees to you prior to starting the counseling session.

f you cannot afford to pay the fee for credit counseling, you must request a fee waiver from the counseling organization before the counseling session starts. Credit counseling services are required to provide the counseling free of charge to debtors who cannot afford to pay the standard counseling fee.

How can I prove that I received credit counseling?

Once your counseling session is completed, you will receive a certificate as proof of the completion of your counseling. Your credit counselor may not charge extra for this certificate, and they must provide you with the certificate within 24 hours of the completion of your counseling.

You must file a certificate of credit counseling completion when you file for bankruptcy protection. Only credit counseling organizations that have been approved by the U.S. Trustee Program may issue these certificates. As a fraud prevention measure, these certificates are sequentially numbered, and produced through a central automated processing system.

Please note that once your bankruptcy proceeding has started you must also attend a Post-Filing Debtor Education couneling session.

It is absolutely essential that you complete your mandatory pre-bankruptcy credit counseling session, BEFORE you file bankruptcy. If you do not have proof that you have completed your counseling, you will NOT be able to file for bankruptcy.

Use our credit counselor locator to find an approved credit counselor in your area.

For more information, search our site or the web:




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