When you file for bankruptcy, you must complete two different credit counseling programs. One you will complete prior to filing, and the other you must complete prior to your discharge.
The Federal Trade Commission explains that you must choose a government-approved program when getting your credit counseling. The programs are specific to filing bankruptcy. You cannot take any program of your choosing.
You must take the first course within the 180 days before you file for bankruptcy. This first course is a credit counseling program, and you will receive a certificate saying you completed the program that you will need to file with your bankruptcy documents. This course covers how to manage your personal finances, teaches you how to budget and provides alternative options to filing bankruptcy.
The second course is a debtor education program. You will take this at any point after you file bankruptcy. You must complete it and turn in the certificate you receive for the court to discharge your case. This course covers how to manage future debt, how to properly use credit and general money management.
Be aware that the certificates have numbers that are in a central automated system. The court will know if the certificate is not legitimate.
The programs with government approval receive it from the Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program. This organization has a published list that you should consult before paying for a program. It must be on this list or it will count for filing purposes.
You may have to pay a fee for each course unless you meet certain income requirements.