The Executive Office for U.S. Trustees (EOUST) requires that all bankruptcy filers receive certification for both pre-bankruptcy credit counseling and pre-discharge debtor education. The counseling, which may also be provided in a group setting, includes a review of your budget, the alternatives to bankruptcy and the consequences of bankruptcy. The education component covers how to re-establish personal finances, rebuild credit and avoid getting back in debt.
How to Evaluate Bankruptcy Counseling and Education Providers
It’s more critical than ever for those getting bankruptcy counseling and education to make sure to find a legitimate, nonprofit organization. Of course, we hope you will work with us at Clearpoint, but here are some questions to ask, along with general tips and guidelines you should follow if you are shopping around for a provider:
Is the agency a 501(c) (3) nonprofit community organization not affiliated with a particular attorney?
In general, nonprofit agencies are established to follow a mission, often involving education, and a non-profit organization is more likely to offer unbiased information.
Is the agency affiliated with a national association such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)?
NFCC membership signifies high standards for agency accreditation, counselor certification and policies, and ensures low-cost, confidential services.
What related services does the agency provide, and how long have they been in business?
Counselors and educators who provide related services will be able to answer more personal finance-related questions and put your situation in perspective. A healthy track record indicates an agency’s soundness.
Is the agency accredited by a third party such as the Council on Accreditation?
Such notable endorsements ensure that the organization meets the highest standards of stability, service and results.
How is the agency rated by the Better Business Bureau, and other reliable online review sites?
A quick search of charities at www.bbb.org will allow you to see the BBB’s “grade” for the organization and determine if it’s an accredited BBB member. You can also check ratings on authoritative and reliable sites, like Google reviews and Yelp.