Pre-Filing Bankruptcy Counseling Disclosures: The First Certificate

Pre-filing bankruptcy counseling takes about 90 minutes. You can take prebankruptcy counseling in person, by telephone or online, whichever is convenient for you. 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.

When counseling is completed, a Certificate of Completion is issued which is valid for 180 days from the date the counseling is completed. After that date the certificate expires.

Fees for bankruptcy counseling in person, by telephone or online are $50 per person or $100 per couple. With couples, both individuals must complete the course. We will waive the fee 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 under the authority of 42 U.S.C.9902(2), as adjusted from time to time, for a household or family of the size involved in fee determination.

There is no additional fee associated with generation of the certificate.

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.

This agency receives financial support from various funders, including the United Way, Goodwill and grants. Some funding comes from voluntary contributions from creditors who participate in DMPs. Since creditors have a financial interest in having debts repaid, most are willing to make a contribution 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 into a DMP, you will receive specific information on how the plan works and how the agency is funded.

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 Debt Management Program, 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.

We do not pay or receive referral fees for the referral of clients.

It is our obligation to provide you promptly with a certificate within one business day that you will need should you decide to file for bankruptcy only if you complete the counseling.

You have the opportunity to negotiate an alternative payment schedule with regard to 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 debtor education course and the fact that the United States Trustee has neither reviewed nor approved any other services the agency provides to clients.

Bankruptcy counseling can be done in three different ways:

In-Person 

We recommend this method because it is usually the most effective way for you to interact with your counselor and complete the process. Bring a photo ID (driver’s license)

Before you register, please read our fee waiver policy and mandatory disclosures. We are required to provide you with this fee waiver information and disclosures before getting personal information from you or giving you financial counseling services.

The fee of $50 per person will 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 under the authority of 42 U.S.C.9902(2), as adjusted from time to time, for a household or family of the size involved in fee determination. Entering your annual household income and family size on the next page will bring up a page telling you if the fee will be waived. Please click on the link at the end of that page to read the required Privacy Statement, Statement of Counseling Services and Pre-Bankruptcy Counseling Disclosure. Clicking “I Accept” at the end of the disclosure page will bring up the Bankruptcy Counseling Forms.

Print out the forms, fill them in and return them to us before your appointment is set.

Please click here to see the fee waiver policy.

Telephone

To register for telephone counseling, please read our fee waiver policy and mandatory disclosures. We are required to provide you with this fee waiver information and disclosures before getting personal information from you or giving you financial counseling services.

The fee of $50 per person will 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 under the authority of 42 U.S.C.9902(2), as adjusted from time to time, for a household or family of the size involved in fee determination. Entering your annual household income and family size on the next page will bring up a page telling you if the fee will be waived. Please click on the link at the end of that page to read the Privacy Statement, Statement of Counseling Services and Pre-Bankruptcy Counseling Disclosure. Clicking “I Accept” at the end of the disclosure page will bring up the Bankruptcy Counseling Forms.

Print out the forms, fill them in and return them to us before your appointment is set up with a FISC counselor. The counselor will verify your identification at the time of the call. After you complete this session, you will receive your Certificate of Completion.

Please click here to see the fee waiver policy.

Online (Note: It is not designed for use with cellphone or other mobile devices.)

— Online counseling uses the same material that a counselor uses when doing in-person counseling.

— Before taking the online class, 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.

— This assessment will analyze your income, expenses, debts, and assets, to give you a complete picture of your financial situation and available options. Your session will also provide you with information about the bankruptcy process.

— After you complete this session, a certified consumer credit counselor will check all of your worksheets and contact you to see if you have any questions that need to be addressed. The counselor will verify your social security number and address. If there are no questions to be addressed, your Bankruptcy counseling Certificate of Completion will be mailed to you.