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Vetting Your Credit Counselor

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You are required to complete a credit counseling course no fewer than 180 days before you file your bankruptcy petition. It does not matter whether you are filing for Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or another bankruptcy chapter. You must also receive debt education before your debt can be discharged.

Beyond this requirement, you can receive credit counseling from any credit counseling agency approved by the Department of Justice. It is important to note that an agency’s approval does not guarantee the quality of the counseling services it provides. As the filer, it is your responsibility to find a credit counseling agency that can effectively help you learn about how credit and the bankruptcy process work before you file your bankruptcy petition. Ask your lawyer to recommend an agency and if you are not sure about a specific agency, ask for your lawyer’s opinion about it.

What to Look for in a Credit Counseling Agency

After finding a credit counseling agency approved by the Department of Justice, check with the Indiana State Attorney General’s office to find out if any complaints have been filed against the agency.

Most credit counseling agencies offer free or low cost services to individuals who cannot afford their fees. Ask about the agency’s costs and whether it offers services on a sliding price scale. Be sure to work with an agency that is licensed to practice in Indiana.

Red Flags to Avoid in a Credit Counseling Agency

Do not work with an agency that charges money for information about their services or other educational materials about bankruptcy. Although credit counseling agencies may charge for their services, you should not have to pay for educational materials.

If you are told that the agency’s employees earn commissions, walk away. This can lead to a situation where you are pressured into buying a product you do not want or need, such as a debt management plan. Debt management plans are not inherently bad, but you should not be pressured into purchasing anything along with your mandatory credit counseling.

If you do not receive a price quote during your initial conversation, do not work with that agency. Always know exactly what you are expected to pay and when payment is due.

Work with an Experienced Merrillville Bankruptcy Lawyer

You will need to complete a credit counseling course before you can move forward with your bankruptcy. Rather than rushing through the course so you can check it off your list and file your case, use the information you receive in the course to change you relationship with money and credit. A reputable credit counselor will be able to answer any questions you have an impart wisdom you can use while your bankruptcy case is pending and in the years that follow. You should also work with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer to complete the bankruptcy process. Contact The Whitten & Whitten today to set up your free consultation in our office.

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