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Counseling Before Bankruptcy
There are two ways to receive counseling:
On Line: Complete your counseling on line. Sign Up Below (The fee for on line counseling is $30, which includes the cost of generating the certificate)
By Phone: Call 800-894-7240 and speak with one of our certified counselors who will conduct an in depth counseling session. This session will take about an hour and you will receive your certificate upon completion of the session. (The fee for telephone counseling is $50, which includes the cost of generating the certificate)
What you will gain from this session:
- A determination of your net income and expenses for an average month.
- Ways to balance your expenses against your income.
- A personalized action plan to provide you with information on:
- Ways to increase your income and/or cut back on expenses.
- Helpful money management strategies.
- Possible options for dealing with your debt.
Your counselor will provide you with a broad overview of the federal bankruptcy law; however, counselors may not offer you legal advice. The key purpose of bankruptcy counseling is to develop a picture of your current financial situation. This will give you the knowledge you need to determine if there are options other than bankruptcy to eliminate your debts in a reasonable time period while maintaining a balanced budget. This counseling will also get you started on building a financial plan for your future.
Bankruptcy Certificates will be issued:
- Within one business day of the counseling session, and only after you complete the entire program.
- The required certificate of completion will be sent to you by e-mail, fax or mail.
What is the Cost for the Counseling Session?
- $30 if you use the Agency's Online Bankruptcy Counseling module.
- $50 if you wish to have a Telephone or In-Person counseling session
- A debit card or money order is the only acceptable form of payment. Personal checks and credit cards are not accepted
- There are no additional charges for a married couple filing jointly if both parties participate in the same counseling session. If you choose to complete the counseling in separate sessions, each person is charged individually.
In limited circumstances, you may be eligible to have this fee waived if your income is less than 150% of the Federal poverty guidelines updated periodically by the US Department of Health and Human Services. If you believe you may qualify to have the fee waived, contact us toll-free at 1-800-894-7240. We will require you to provide us with income verification. Counseling is offered regardless of the participant's ability to pay.
Please read the following disclosure prior to going to our on line counseling:
Pre-Petition Credit Counseling and Budget Analysis Disclosure Statement
American Financial Solutions (AFS) is a nonprofit credit counseling agency dedicated to helping people achieve a secure financial future through education, counseling and debt management plans that comply with regulatory requirements. Since 1999, American Financial Solutions has been educating consumers and clients about money and credit. Our services are available to every member of the community without regard to race, religion, national origin, gender, social position, handicap, financial status, or ability to pay. All client information is held in strict confidence by AFS except as authorized to be released by the client or as otherwise required by law.
AFS might disclose client information to the United States Trustee in connection with the Trustee’s oversight of the agency, during investigations of complaints, during on-site visits, or during quality of service reviews.
The United State Trustee has reviewed only our credit counseling and personal financial management instructional course pursuant to 11 U.S.C 111(d) and the US Trustees has neither reviewed or approved any other services we provide to clients.
AFS receives the majority of its funding from:
- Fees paid by clients enrolled in debt management plans
- Fees by clients to cover the costs of other programs and services
- Voluntary payments from creditors that have clients enrolled in our debt management plans
- Federal and State grants
AFS policy prohibits paying or receiving referral fees for the referral of clients to or by the agency.
All counselors are full-time employees of AFS. All AFS counselors are required to obtain certification through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) within one year of employment, in compliance with the NFCC’s high standards for quality counseling and financial education. Each counselor must complete 20 hours of continuing education every 24 months following certification. Only counselors who are certified are allowed to offer pre-bankruptcy counseling.
If you are completing this process in-person or by phone your counselor will ask you questions about your budget, assets, creditors, and factors that led you to consider bankruptcy. After reviewing all your information, your counselor will conduct an analysis of your financial situation and explore your options with you and develop an individualized action plan for dealing with them and a copy of your budget analysis. If you complete this counseling in person your counselor will provide you copies of all this information. If you are completing this process by phone your counselor will email, fax or send you copies of this information.
If you are taking this program online, the program will ask questions about your budget, assets, creditors and factors that led you to consider bankruptcy. There is a requirement by law that you must have interaction with your counselor in the counseling process. Your counselor will contact you by phone to ask questions about the information you provided. Your counselor will discuss the factors/reasons leading you to why you are considering bankruptcy, and review your budget, make recommendations as needed, and review your creditors and assets. Your counselor will conduct an analysis of your financial situation, explore your options with you and develop an individualized action plan for dealing with your situation. Once this is complete you will be notified by email to log back into the program where you can print copies of all this information.
Impact on Credit Report
American Financial Solutions does not disclose or provide client information to any credit reporting agency. However, clients who enroll in a debt management plan must be aware that their creditors may report their participation in the plan to the credit reporting agencies and that this may negatively impact their credit reports and credit scores while they are on the program and for some time thereafter. Any alternatives discussed during the counseling service could have an effect on your credit report and credit score, which effect could be either positive or negative.
During the counseling process, your counselor may offer to pull your credit report to assist with the counseling process. If so you will be required to sign an authorization form to allow them to do so. . Your credit report is not impacted by obtaining counseling through our agency and our agency will not disclose or provide any information about this counseling session to a credit reporting agency
If you choose to file for bankruptcy, you should know that your bankruptcy will affect your credit report. A bankruptcy does not delete accurate information off of your credit report regarding your past delinquencies. A bankruptcy is a matter of public record and will be reported in the public section of your credit report. A bankruptcy will have a negative effect on your credit report and credit score. A potential creditor, landlord, or employer in the future may view this negatively. Depending on the type of bankruptcy you file, a bankruptcy may remain on your credit report for 7 to 10 years.
You have the right to negotiate an alternative payment schedule with regard to each unsecured consumer debt under terms as set forth in 11 U.S.C. 502(k). AFS provides this service.
Cost of Services
AFS charges a fee for pre-petition counseling and budget analysis which includes issuance of the certificate of compliance that is required to be filed with the bankruptcy court when filing a bankruptcy petition. The fee for this service is $50.00 for telephone or face to face counseling. The fee for on-line counseling is $30. The fee is due and payable at the time of the counseling service. AFS will waive or reduce our fee based on a client's lack of ability to pay. If you are unable to pay the fee, the counseling will be provided free of charge. You are considered to be unable to pay if your household’s current income is less than 150% of the income of the official poverty line as identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services applicable to a household of the same size. To find out if you qualify for a fee waiver, please enter your income and household size in the boxes provided at the end of this disclosure. If you think you qualify for a fee waiver please call us at 800-894-7240. We will require verification of income.
Married couples filing jointly will only be charged one fee.
Upon the completion of counseling services, AFS has an obligation to promptly provide the certificate. AFS will provide the certificate within one business day after completing the counseling services. The certificate will be provided only if you complete counseling services.
Although a counselor may answer general questions about bankruptcy, AFS does not provide legal or tax advice. If legal or tax advice is needed, you should seek the appropriate assistance from an attorney or tax professional.
We provide bilingual (Spanish only) counseling services but do not provide professional interpreter assistance to any limited English proficient clients. To find an organization that provides these services please go to the US Trustee site at: http://www.justice.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/cc_approved.htm
This agency is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). The NFCC has high standards for quality credit counseling and financial education, and this agency complies with those standards. In addition, this agency is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), an independent third-party organization that reviews and monitors entities that provide social services. We are a non-profit agency. We are organized and operate in accordance with Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
To get started, you must find out if you are eligible for a fee reduction or waiver. Please enter your total annual household gross income and the number of people in your household in the boxes below.
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