Bankruptcy – Meeting the Pre-filing Credit Counseling Requirement
All debtors who file petitions for bankruptcy under either Chapter 7 or 13 must provide proof that they received credit counseling from a court approved agency sometime in the 180 days prior to the date the petition was filed. Proof must be submitted to the court within 15 days of the date the petition is filed or the petition will be dismissed. There may be some exception to these rules, so check with your bankruptcy attorney if you have a problem.
The purpose of the counseling is to determine if you really need to file bankruptcy or if a repayment plan of some type would work for you. Although you are required to attend the counseling, you are not required to agree to any of the suggestions that are made. However, if the counselor makes any written recommendations for how you could repay your debt outside of bankruptcy, those suggestions must be filed with the bankruptcy court.
The counselors are allowed to charge a reasonable fee of not more than $50. If counselors want to charge more than that, they have to obtain a court order allowing it. In some circumstances, it may be possible to have the fee waived.
New Requirement for personal contact
You are allowed to meet the pre-filing portion of the credit counseling by attending a session in person, online, or over the phone. If the course is taken online or by way of an automated phone system, in order to obtain the required completion certificate, you must have some interaction with a live counselor to discuss your financial status. This can be done with a phone call, through a live chat on the internet or by way of email.
The counselor is required to issue the certificate of completion within one day of the completion of the counseling session.