Debt can be overwhelming. Especially in these times of uncertainty. There are many reasons you may be experiencing financial issues. Illness and health care expenses, job loss, divorce, or accidents. No matter the reason your debt has increased, you’re likely feeling stressed, and a credit counseling agency may help.

The good news? You CAN take control.

Take Control – Talk to an Expert

Your first step is to talk to an expert who understands your situation. That could be someone from an approved credit counseling agency in your area, or a qualified bankruptcy lawyer. They can provide lots of information to help you understand your options.

While ultimately you may need to file for bankruptcy, you might be able to manage your financial challenges with a debt management plan. You could consolidate your debts into a lower interest loan to help manage your payments. Or you may want to look into a debt settlement plan, and work with a settlement service company who will negotiate lower payments to the individuals or businesses to whom you owe money.

Facing debt can be difficult…especially when you don’t know where to turn. When you find qualified help, you’ll find your situation easier to face.

And you’ll find you’re not alone.

Credit Counseling is Required for Bankruptcy

One thing you may not know is that you are required to complete a credit counseling course before you can file for bankruptcy.

If you file for bankruptcy and you haven’t completed the required credit counseling, your case will be dismissed, and you will need to re-file (and pay another filing fee).

The good news is that credit counseling only takes at most a half hour of your time, and it can be done over the phone or online. You’ll be asked questions about your finances and your debt situation to help the counselors better understand your circumstances.

There are many qualified non-profit organizations that offer great credit counseling services to meet the unique needs of each individual seeking their help. Many even offer free workshops and education materials. A reputable counselor will work with you to review your financial situation and assist you to build an action plan to manage your debt and budget.

You should be aware, though, that “non-profit” doesn’t mean free. You will typically be charged a fee for credit counseling services, and the fee varies by provider.

When do you need to complete a credit counseling course?

Credit counseling must be completed within 6 months (180 days) before you file for bankruptcy. When you finish your course, you will receive a certificate of counseling. The certificate must be filed within 14 days of your petition for bankruptcy.

Steer Clear of Scams

It’s easy to find credit counseling agencies and credit counseling courses on the internet. The challenge is to find one that you can trust. Credit counseling scams are widespread, so you should be cautious about providing any personal or financial information if you are nervous or unsure of the company.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website offers great advice to help you if you are looking for reliable credit counseling:

A reputable credit counseling agency should send you free information about itself and the services it provides without requiring you to provide any details about your situation. If a firm doesn’t do that, consider it a red flag and go elsewhere for help.

Be sure to check out the FTC website for more tips on choosing a credit counseling agency you can trust.

When a Qualified Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help

Bankruptcy is designed to provide financial relief to honest people who need a fresh start. If you decide to file for bankruptcy, you’re going to want to have an experienced, helpful attorney to ensure you come out of the process with the best possible outcome for your new beginning.

There are many reasons to consult a lawyer about your debt situation before you file for bankruptcy.

If you’re worried about getting sued by creditors, if your house has been foreclosed but you still have a balance due on the property or if you are being harassed by calls from creditors or bill collectors, your attorney can help take the pressure off, and start to guide you through the process of credit counseling and beyond.

Contact the Law Office of Stephanie Krane-Boehmer for all your bankruptcy matters. We are located in Rochester Hills, and serve Oakland, Macomb, Genesee, Lapeer, Waye, and Livingston Counties. We are here to support you through all aspects of your bankruptcy filings, mediation, litigation, parenting arrangements and division of property.

Although dealing with legal matters can be intimidating, we will put you at ease with our experience, expertise and down-to-earth approach. We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy under the bankruptcy code. Our mission is to achieve the best results for you as you work through the many challenges of your debt situation.

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