Archive for the ‘free credit check’ Category

Sallie Mae causes credit score error.

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Some borrowers that have sallie mae student loans were shocked last week when they checked their credit report with Equifax, only to find that their credit scores have dropped. Some of the borrowers were delinquent, and some were not.

Here is what happened
Last Thursday May the 8th Sallie Mae made a error in the way some student loans were reported to the credit bureau. They reported graduated or extended repayment plan as arrangements for partial payment. This caused Equifax the biggest and oldest credit bureau to code the accounts as delinquent, even if they were current.

An extended payment plan allows the borrower to pay the loan out over 12 to 30 years. The standard plan usually is in repayment over 10 years. A graduated payment plan starts out as a low payment, and gradually increases every two years over a term of 12 to 30yrs.

“ There are some repayment plans that on our system are considered a partial payment. They are still in current status, but they are essentially for an extended or graduated repayment plan, and with our understanding of these industry guidelines on how to code that is where we made an error,” Says Martha Holler, spokeswoman for Sallie Mae. “

Borrowers with extended or graduated repayment plans who applied for credit or pulled their credit scores in the last three business days may have had “one or more of their accounts show up late, and had a negative impact on their credit scores,” Says Tom Joyce, spokesman for Sallie Mae

Some students that had these types of loans complained in the FICO forums that their FICO scores had dropped a total of 100 points because of this mistake.

Joyce says ” less than 10 percent” of their 10 million borrowers, or less than 1 million borrowers were affected by this mistake.

Action being taken
Sallie Mae plans on working with Equifax to fix this problem with borrowers who’s credit reports were affected. These errors will be deleted from the Equifax, and the borrower’s credit score should return to the scores they were.

Meanwhile Sallie Mae said they would provide letters to those that need them. Sallie Mae urges borrowers concerned about this mistake to call (888) 272-5543

This is a great reason to pull your credit report; you never know when a creditor is going to make a mistake. Current statistics show that 80% of credit reports have errors on them.

Get your free credit score report today !

This article was wrote: by

Mike Clover is the owner of is the one of the most unique on-line resources for free credit score report, fico score, free credit check, identity theft protection, secured credit cards, student credit cards , credit cards, mortgage loans, auto loans, insurance and a BlOG with a wealth of personal credit information. The information within this website is written by professionals that know about credit, and what determines ones credit worthiness.

Does pulling your credit report hurt your credit score?

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

This is a common concern out there about having your credit report pulled and whether or not this will hurt your credit score. There are certain inquiries that affect your overall score, and in this article we will discuss what really affects your score. There are two types of inquiries on your credit report, and they are called a soft inquiry and a hard inquiry. Here are the breakdowns.

Hard inquiries – this could affect your FICO score.
• Credit report pulls by a mortgage company or a bank
• Application for a credit card
• Application for a car
• Application for a bank loan

Soft inquiries – This does not affect your FICO score
• Pulling your own credit report
• Having a creditor whom you already have credit with pull your credit report
• Credit checks by prospective employers

How interest rate shopping affects your score.
When looking for auto or mortgage loan, this can trigger multiple credit inquiries. To compensate for this the score models allow multiple inquiries within a 30 day period before it scores you. The score model looks for inquiries within that 30 day period and only counts it as one inquiry.

How much could your scores drop as a result of hard inquiries?
In some cases a hard inquiry will not affect your score at all, and in some cases a hard inquiry could lower your score around 5 points. If your credit is in good standing as far as you know, you really don’t have anything to worry about. If you are getting ready to make a purchase or have been turned down for credit, go ahead and see where your credit score stands. FICO recommends that your check your credit often just in case there is something on there that could hinder a credit approval.

Know your Fico Score, Tips on improving your Credit Score

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

If you decide to use a lending institution, your ability to buy will be based on your credit score. Do you currently know yours? Here is some advice from Stephanie AuWerter, Editor of, on learning and improving your score.

During times like these, a good score should be top priority. Because of the current and ongoing credit crisis, lenders have got tough in credit score requirements. If you are looking for a mortgage, credit card, small business loan, the bar has been raised. If you want to get the best rates your FICO scores needs to be high. According for Fair Isaac credit scores range between 300 – 850 and you should shoot for a 750 or higher. The great news is you can improve your credit score fairly quickly. The first step is to know where you stand, and you can pull a copy of your FICO score at

One of the worst things you can do to devastate your credit score is to be lat on a payment. If for some reason you pull your credit report and there is a late payment you knew nothing about, you usually can call to get the late payment removed if you are a good paying customer. If you were actually late, you can still call and ask them to remove the late payment, but of course they have no reason to re-move it. But it does not hurt to ask, you have nothing to loose.

You should also pay down your credit card debt. Credit card debt hurts your score. FICO does not like to see your credit card debt reaching its credit limit. This can be a little tricky because some credit card companies are lowering credit lines for some customers. According the Fair Issac you want to keep your credit card balances below 30% of your total credit line. So pay down your debts.

Don’t cancel credit cards you don’t use. Credit cards that have no balances actually are helping your fico score. Having credit cards with credit lines help your credit score, and it does not hurt to charge occasionally on it and pay it off that month.

Finally correct credit report mistakes. Almost 80% of credit reports have mistakes on them, 29% of which are serious enough to result in a credit denial. So pull a copy of your credit report with credit scores and give it a good review. Get a copy of your credit report at If you find a mistake on it the bureaus has 30 days to remove it if the credit bureau finds that the dispute is accurate.

Home Buying Process and Mortgage Loans done correctly.

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

The home buying process can become the biggest nightmare if not done correctly. I am sure you have heard of all the stories out there about somebody’s loan not going smooth and what a humiliating experience that can be. Since buying a home is the single biggest purchase you will ever make, you need to make sure the process you are giving is the correct one. Since most of us are emotional buyers, and would like to go look at homes before getting a loan in place, this might seem like to best process to follow. I will be the first to tell you, that if you go look at homes before you get a mortgage loan in place, you very well could be part of the nightmare mentioned. Take our advice and remember this.

Get approved for a mortgage loan
Most people like to lead the cart before the horse, only because it seems easier. Unfortunately that is not the process when buying a home. The first step is to get a mortgage loan secured. The reason for this is anything can go wrong when buying a house if you don’t dot your I’s and cross your T’s. It probably sounds like more fun to run out and look at a bunch of homes, before getting you’re financing in place. With all the current tightening up in the mortgage industry, and your credit score needing to be higher these days, you cannot afford to assume you will be able to get financing. The lending requirements are a lot stricter these days. Let’s assume you go out and find the home of your dreams, but you have not idea what you qualify for. Nor do you have any idea what your payment would be on the homes you are looking at. Here is a list of situations that could happen if you don’t get pre-approved before looking at homes. Also if you know you have good credit, you still may get denied, so don’t assume anything.

1. Find a home only to get let down because you don’t qualify for it.
2. Thought the payment would be lower.
3. Need money for down payment you don’t have.
4. Got something on your credit report you knew nothing about.
5. Your credit scores are too low for your type of loan scenario.
6. Someone has stolen your identity and you just found out.

7. You don’t have enough credit to get a mortgage loan

This is just some key problems that could take place if you don’t get your pre-approval first. If you go out and write a contract up on a home, and find out later you cannot secure financing you have wasted your time and everyone involved. Plus it could cost you your earnest money which could be between $500 and $1000 dollars.

Get a seasoned realtor to help with your search
After you are pre-approved for a mortgage loan, you need a highly qualified realtor. You don’t want to work with a realtor that runs you out to look at homes before you meet with a lender. If a realtor does this, you are going to have problems. I promise. Most seasoned realtors will not allow you in their car until you are approved with a reputable mortgage lender. This may not sound like the process you want to follow, but it the only way to get matters rolling and it’s the correct way.

Whether you have thought about buying, or maybe you were just denied for a mortgage, what every your situation is, most people are pulling a copy of their-credit report to get an idea where they stand with their credit. Don’t take the easy way out, because it will make matters hard for you.

Does paying off Collection accounts help my Credit Score?

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

We all know credit scores are pretty much the ticket to a lot of things these days. This is a question that has two sides to it. Over the years most credit repair companies will tell you not to pay off collection accounts because it gives an updated collection to the credit bureaus. I will be the first to tell you, that if it’s a new collection you are better off settling on the collection and asking for a letter to delete from all 3 credit bureaus. There is also a trick of the lender community, where we ask you to pay off a collection and get a a letter from the creditor reporting the collection, Once you provide the letter we go to our credit reporting company and do what is called a rapid rescore. What this entails is we get the credit bureaus to update the status of a collection from balance being owed to “paid in full” or “settled” depending on what was negotiated.

Once a collection is updated here is what typically happens.
1. Your score will increase depending on how many accounts you paid off
2. The status of the account will change
3. Balance being owed will be $0

So the answer is yes typically when you pay off collection accounts your credit score will increase. We have been doing this for years, and it works. The reason is you are changing the status of the account from balanced owed to either settled or paid in full. This is the secret that most don’t know. Why do credit repair companies tell you not to pay off collections, I personally believe it’s because they don’t have access to do rapid rescore process like mortgage companies do.

In some cases when you pay off collections your credit score could drop, but will eventually go up. There is no miracle when it comes to repairing your credit report, it is always better to pay off your debts you owe though. Typically when you pay off a collection your credit scores will increase. Just remember as you are working on paying off old bad debt make sure you are not late on anything. If you are late on a obligation that reports to your credit report, you are defeating the entire purpose of increasing your credit scores. Late payments will drop your credit score between 100 to 150 points.

If you are uncertain what is on your credit report go ahead and get a copy of your credit report Today.

When should I refinance my Home ?

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Low interest rates and liberal underwriting guidelines caused a surge of home ownership in the US over the last 7 years. Interest rates have stayed relatively low as well. In 2004 interest rates hit a all time low around 4%. This made it very possible for lots of families to afford home ownership. As the years passed lots of families were put into adjustable rate arms (ARMs). Some families were just simply taken advantage of and were put into high rate loans when the market in fact allowed lower interest rates. Here is what to look for in order for a refinance to make financial sense.

Reasons for a home refinance & FACTS

1. To lower rate at least a minimum of 1.5%
2. Must stay in home for at least 10yrs to recoup refinance costs
3. ARM about to expire
4. Got a escrow shortage
5. Need to take out equity for cash to pay down debt

As you can see there are some steps to determine whether a refinance will make sense for you. Despite the commercials you see about no closing cost loans, believe me you are paying for it some how. There are closing costs involved in a refinance, so you want to make sure you stay in your home for a minimum of 10 years before selling or moving. The reason for this is it takes about 10 years to recoup the cost of a refinance on a home. You definitely don’t want to refinance your home unless you can lower the interest rate at least 1.5%, otherwise it’s not worth it. Families are loosing their homes all over the U.S. because they don’t have the value or the credit to refinance their home out of a costly ARM. My advice would be not to tap into any retirement to save the home, just let it go. It’s not worth touching your 401k, IRA, or any kind of retirement savings. Another problem is having escrow shortages, or the lender sold you on a no escrow loan. These two situations can get you in trouble real quick. Escrows in case you did not know are the taxes and insurance typically collected into an account and paid by the bank. If you find yourself behind on this stuff make sure you pay it as soon as possible.

Watch out for too good to be true advertisements
On TV and in the mail you probably see this really low interest rate, and typically it’s got a catch to it. Normally the low interest rates are going to cost you to get that rate, and in some cases it’s some creative loan that is very complicated. There is no miracle out there when it comes to low interest rates; most lenders have the same interest rates across the board. If a particular lender sticks out like a soar thumb because their rates are extremely low, it’s probably because it’s a gimmick to get you to call.

Author: Mike Clover

What’s in your FICO® Score.

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Fico scores are calculated from different data within your credit report. This information is grouped into five categories. The Chart below will reflect this as well as the percentage of importance for each category.

These percentages of these categories are for the purpose of the general population. For example someone that is new to the credit scène these percentages may not apply.

Payment History

• Number of accounts paid as agreed
• Presence of negative Public Records(Judgments, bankruptcy, suits, liens, wage attachments, etc ( Collections, and/or delinquency(past due items)
• Severity of delinquency( how long past due)
• Amount past due on delinquent accounts or collection accounts
• How much you’re past due on accounts or collections.
• How many collections you have
• Account payment information on particular accounts (installment loans, credit cards, retail accounts, finance company accounts, car notes, mortgage, etc…)

Length of Credit History

• Time since account activity
• Time since accounts opened
• Time since account opended, by type of account

New Credit

• Time since account was open, by credit type
• Time since credit inquiry
• Number of recently opened accounts, and proportion of accounts recently opened by account type.
• Re-establishment of credit after recent credit problems
• Number of recent credit inquiries

Amounts Owed

• Proportion of installment loans still owed, proportion of balances to original loan amount on certain installment loans
• Number of accounts with balances
• Amounts owed on specific types of accounts
• Amount owed on accounts
• Lack of specific types of credit balances
• Proportion of credit lines used (proportion of balances to total credit limit on certain types of revolving accounts

Types of credit used

• Number of (prevalence, presence, and recent information on ( different account types such as credit cards, retail accounts, mortgage, installment loans, and consumer finance accounts.

*Please take note
Your FICO score takes into consideration of all these variables discussed.
No one piece of information or factor will determine your score alone.

The importance of any factor depends on your over all credit history.
It is really hard to single out any other factor over another, since all factors take part in the overall scoring process. What is important is the mix of information being reported within your credit report.

Your FICO score only looks at information within your credit report. However lenders look at other information outside this report to also make a credit decision.
• Work History
• Salary
• Rental History
• Kind of credit you are requesting

Your score considers both negative and positive information on your credit report. Late payments will lower your credit score, but establishing or re-establishing a good payment history will increase your credit score.

FTC Credit Score FACTS

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Need Credit or Insurance? Your Credit Score Helps Determine What You’ll Pay

Ever wonder how a lender decides whether to grant you credit? For years, creditors have been using credit scoring systems to determine if you’d be a good risk for credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages. These days, many more types of businesses — including insurance companies and phone companies — are using credit scores to decide whether to approve you for a loan or service and on what terms. Auto and homeowners insurance companies are among the businesses that are using credit scores to help decide if you’d be a good risk for insurance. A higher credit score means you are likely less of a risk, and in turn, means you will be more likely to get credit or insurance — or pay less for it.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know how credit scoring works.

What is credit scoring?
Credit scoring is a system creditors use to help determine whether to give you credit. It also may be used to help decide the terms you are offered or the rate you will pay for the loan.
Information about you and your credit experiences, like your bill-paying history, the number and type of accounts you have, whether you pay your bills by the date they’re due, collection actions, outstanding debt, and the age of your accounts, is collected from your credit report. Using a statistical program, creditors compare this information to the loan repayment history of consumers with similar profiles. For example, a credit scoring system awards points for each factor that helps predict who is most likely to repay a debt. A total number of points — a credit score — helps predict how creditworthy you are — how likely it is that you will repay a loan and make the payments when they’re due.
Some insurance companies also use credit report information, along with other factors, to help predict your likelihood of filing an insurance claim and the amount of the claim. They may consider these factors when they decide whether to grant you insurance and the amount of the premium they charge. The credit scores insurance companies use sometimes are called “insurance scores” or “credit-based insurance scores.”

Credit Scores & Credit Reports
Your credit report is a key part of many credit scoring systems. That’s why it is critical to make sure your credit report is accurate. Federal law gives you the right to get a free copy of your credit reports from each of the three national consumer reporting companies once every 12 months.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) also gives you the right to get your credit score from the national consumer reporting companies. They are allowed to charge a reasonable fee, generally around $8, for the score. When you buy your score, often you get information on how you can improve it.
To order your free annual report from one or all the national consumer reporting companies, and to purchase your credit score, visit, call toll-free 877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P. O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. For more information, see Your Access to Free Credit Report.

How is a credit scoring system developed?
To develop a credit scoring system or model, a creditor or insurance company selects a random sample of its customers, or a sample of similar customers, and analyzes it statistically to identify characteristics that relate to risk. Each of the characteristics then is assigned a weight based on how strong a predictor it is of who would be a good risk. Each company may use its own scoring model, different scoring models for different types of credit or insurance, or a generic model developed by a scoring company.
Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), a creditor’s scoring system may not use certain characteristics — for example, race, sex, marital status, national origin, or religion — as factors. The law allows creditors to use age in properly designed scoring systems. But any credit scoring system that includes age must give equal treatment to elderly applicants.

What can I do to improve my score?
Credit scoring systems are complex and vary among creditors or insurance companies and for different types of credit or insurance. If one factor changes, your score may change — but improvement generally depends on how that factor relates to others the system considers. Only the business using the scoring knows what might improve your score under the particular model they use to evaluate your application.
Nevertheless, scoring models usually consider the following types of information in your credit report to help compute your credit score:
• Have you paid your bills on time? You can count on payment history to be a significant factor. If your credit report indicates that you have paid bills late, had an account referred to collections, or declared bankruptcy, it is likely to affect your score negatively.
• Are you maxed out? Many scoring systems evaluate the amount of debt you have compared to your credit limits. If the amount you owe is close to your credit limit, it’s likely to have a negative effect on your score.
• How long have you had credit? Generally, scoring systems consider the length of your credit track record. An insufficient credit history may affect your score negatively, but factors like timely payments and low balances can offset that.
• Have you applied for new credit lately? Many scoring systems consider whether you have applied for credit recently by looking at “inquiries” on your credit report. If you have applied for too many new accounts recently, it could have a negative effect on your score. Every inquiry isn’t counted: for example, inquiries by creditors who are monitoring your account or looking at credit reports to make “prescreened” credit offers are not considered liabilities.
• How many credit accounts do you have and what kinds of accounts are they? Although it is generally considered a plus to have established credit accounts, too many credit card accounts may have a negative effect on your score. In addition, many scoring systems consider the type of credit accounts you have. For example, under some scoring models, loans from finance companies may have a negative effect on your credit score.

Scoring models may be based on more than the information in your credit report. When you are applying for a mortgage loan, for example, the system may consider the amount of your down payment, your total debt, and your income, among other things.

Improving your score significantly is likely to take some time, but it can be done. To improve your credit score under most systems, focus on paying your bills in a timely way, paying down any outstanding balances, and staying away from new debt.

Are credit scoring systems reliable?
Credit scoring systems enable creditors or insurance companies to evaluate millions of applicants consistently on many different characteristics. To be statistically valid, these systems must be based on a big enough sample. They generally vary among businesses that use them.
Properly designed, credit scoring systems generally enable faster, more accurate, and more impartial decisions than individual people can make. And some creditors design their systems so that some applicants — those with scores not high enough to pass easily or low enough to fail absolutely — are referred to a credit manager who decides whether the company or lender will extend credit. Referrals can result in discussion and negotiation between the credit manager and the would-be borrower.

What if I am denied credit or insurance, or don’t get the terms I want?
If you are denied credit, the ECOA requires that the creditor give you a notice with the specific reasons your application was rejected or the news that you have the right to learn the reasons if you ask within 60 days. Ask the creditor to be specific: Indefinite and vague reasons for denial are illegal. Acceptable reasons might be “your income was low” or “you haven’t been employed long enough.” Unacceptable reasons include “you didn’t meet our minimum standards” or “you didn’t receive enough points on our credit scoring system.”

Sometimes you can be denied credit or insurance — or initially be charged a higher premium — because of information in your credit report. In that case, the FCRA requires the creditor or insurance company to give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company that supplied the information. Contact the company to find out what your report said. This information is free if you ask for it within 60 days of being turned down for credit or insurance. The consumer reporting company can tell you what’s in your report; only the creditor or insurance company can tell you why your application was denied.

If a creditor or insurance company says you were denied credit or insurance because you are too near your credit limits on your credit cards, you may want to reapply after paying down your balances. Because credit scores are based on credit report information, a score often changes when the information in the credit report changes.

If you’ve been denied credit or insurance or didn’t get the rate or terms you want, ask questions:
• Ask the creditor or insurance company if a credit scoring system was used. If it was, ask what characteristics or factors were used in the system, and how you can improve your application.
• If you get the credit or insurance, ask the creditor or insurance company whether you are getting the best rate and terms available. If you’re not, ask why.
• If you are denied credit or not offered the best rate available because of inaccuracies in your credit report, be sure to dispute the inaccurate information with the consumer reporting company. To learn more about this right, see How to Dispute Credit Report Errors.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.


Debt Consolidation vs. Bankruptcy

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Maybe you are in a pinch currently and either debt consolidation or bankruptcy is lurking at your back door. You and the rest of America are having trouble currently with the down turn in our economy. Whether anyone wants to realize it or not, matters financially for most Americans could be a lot better currently. With the rise in energy costs, this trickles down into everything we buy. The result of all of this is causing a loss of jobs, people going into debt, families loosing their homes, and even bankruptcy is on the rise. The entire real estate sector has been extremely traumatized and has sent a ripple all across our country. So the point is times are tough and we understand at In this article we wanted to discuss the bankruptcy and debt consolidation options for individuals and families that may be having issues as a result of our current economy in the United States.

Credit Solutions of America, Inc.

Debt Consolidation
Debt consolidation is where you get help from a third party to put all your debt into one loan typically with a low interest rate. The advantage of this is you get a payment that you can afford as opposed to letting your creditors go to collection. Obviously this is better on your credit report than just not paying it at all. As this may not be for everyone there are alternate options as well. You can also use the debt settlement method that will reduce your obligations. There are companies that will negotiate a lesser balance on credit card debt that you owe. So you might look at your options to see which makes sense for you.

Personal bankruptcy generally is considered the debt management option of last resort because the results are long-lasting and far reaching. People who follow the bankruptcy rules receive a discharge — a court order that says they don’t have to repay certain debts. However, bankruptcy information (both the date of your filing and the later date of discharge) stay on your credit report for 10 years, and can make it difficult to obtain credit, buy a home, get life insurance, or sometimes get a job. Still, bankruptcy is a legal procedure that offers a fresh start for people who have gotten into financial difficulty and can’t satisfy their debts.
There are two primary types of personal bankruptcy: Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. Each must be filed in federal bankruptcy court. As of April 2006, the filing fees run about $274 for Chapter 13 and $299 for Chapter 7. Attorney fees are additional and can vary.
Effective October 2005, Congress made sweeping changes to the bankruptcy laws. The net effect of these changes is to give consumers more incentive to seek bankruptcy relief under Chapter 13 rather than Chapter 7. Chapter 13 allows people with a steady income to keep property, like a mortgaged house or a car, that they might otherwise lose through the bankruptcy process. In Chapter 13, the court approves a repayment plan that allows you to use your future income to pay off your debts during a three-to-five-year period, rather than surrender any property. After you have made all the payments under the plan, you receive a discharge of your debts.
Chapter 7 is known as straight bankruptcy, and involves liquidation of all assets that are not exempt. Exempt property may include automobiles, work-related tools, and basic household furnishings. Some of your property may be sold by a court-appointed official — a trustee — or turned over to your creditors. The new bankruptcy laws have changed the time period during which you can receive a discharge through Chapter 7. You now must wait 8 years after receiving a discharge in Chapter 7 before you can file again under that chapter. The Chapter 13 waiting period is much shorter and can be as little as two years between filings.
Both types of bankruptcy may get rid of unsecured debts and stop foreclosures, repossessions, garnishments and utility shut-offs, and debt collection activities. Both also provide exemptions that allow people to keep certain assets, although exemption amounts vary by state. Note that personal bankruptcy usually does not erase child support, alimony, fines, taxes, and some student loan obligations. And, unless you have an acceptable plan to catch up on your debt under Chapter 13, bankruptcy usually does not allow you to keep property when your creditor has an unpaid mortgage or security lien on it.Another major change to the bankruptcy laws involves certain hurdles that a consumer must clear before even filing for bankruptcy, no matter what the chapter. You must get credit counseling from a government-approved organization within six months before you file for any bankruptcy relief. You can find a state-by-state list of government-approved organizations at That is the website of the U.S. Trustee Program, the organization within the U.S. Department of Justice that supervises bankruptcy cases and trustees. Also, before you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, you must satisfy a “means test.” This test requires you to confirm that your income does not exceed a certain amount. The amount varies by state and is publicized by the U.S. Trustee Program at

Disclaimer: This information has been compiled and provided by as an informational service to the public. While our goal is to provide information that will help consumers to manage their credit and debt, this information should not be considered legal advice. Such advice must be specific to the various circumstances of each person's situation, and the general information provided on these pages should not be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.