How to File for Credit Card Bankruptcy

How to File for Credit Card Bankruptcy

Credit card bankruptcy may seem like the only way when debts are outstanding and cannot be paid. Creditors begin calling frantically morning, noon and in the evening demanding payment for past due amounts. Soon, invoices for collection costs come in the mail and double or even triple the amounts that are due immediately. Before you know it, you have a mound of bills that you just simply cannot afford and start thinking about filing for bankruptcy on your credit card bills that were due months ago. You ask yourself, “how did I get myself into this financial mess and what do I do now?” Before you throw your hands up in the air over your financial difficulties, you should consider Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you are eligible.

Although a bankruptcy may stay on your credit report for up to 10 years, it may be the best decision if you have a huge amount of credit card debts that you cannot afford and will never be able to pay off.

2005 Law: Credit Card Bankruptcy Requirement for Chapter 7 – Mandatory Credit Counseling

2005 bankruptcy law changes went into effect for Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 filing stipulations that make it much more difficult to eliminate debts that are owed to creditors. The law that went into effect is known as: Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). According to FindLaw.com, individuals will have to attend mandatory credit counseling before he or she will be eligible to file for Chapter 7 or 11 bankruptcies. 

How to File for Credit Card Bankruptcy

Collect all of your paper statements of debts that you owe to creditors. This includes all collection agency letters or billings and past due payment stubs that are not yet in default. Find all of your tax records for the previous year and paystubs for the current year.

Utilize a free means test to determine your eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The purpose of the means test is to determine if you can afford to pay your creditors, IE: to see if you are bad with managing your debts yet can afford to pay your creditors. Visit LegalConsumer.com, type in your zip code, and then click on the Means Calculator for your county. Use the documents that you collected and fill out the online means test. This tool will help you determine your eligibility for bankruptcy before you spend any of your money retaining an attorney. If the test determines that you have means, then it shows that you will ineligible for filing credit card bankruptcy.  If you do not have means, proceed to the next step.

Obtain the Statement of Current Monthly Income and Means Test Calculation - For Use in Chapter 7 form from www.uscourts.gov/bkforms/index.html. This is a national form that can be used in any state for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Type in or copy and paste that address into your web browser. Locate the correct document by clicking on “Part 1 – Official Forms.” Scroll down and located “Form B22A.” Click on the B22A hyperlink. Print off form B22A by making two copies – note that it is eight total pages in length.

Complete the mandatory credit counseling. To find organizations or companies that are approved by the United States Trustee, visit: www.usdoj.gov/ust to find an appropriate agency. This is an official Federal Government website that has a lot of very helpful information for those seeking bankruptcy. Call Phone: 202-514-4100 if have difficulty finding an appropriate agency to complete your credit counseling. Expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $60. You will have to complete two courses. The first course that you will take is “credit management.” The second course to be taken is “personal finance literacy.” These courses can be taken online through an approved United States Trustee program and take a few hours to complete. Ensure that you receive your certificate of completion after finishing the credit counseling from the agency. You will need this certificate for Chapter 7 bankruptcy eligibility and filing. 

Find an appropriate lawyer in your area who handles bankruptcy cases. You can find one on the internet or call your court house and ask for a referral. The bar association in your area may also offer a referral. If you have difficulty finding one to take your case, refer to the yellow pages in your telephone book under “attorney” or “lawyer” and call around. It is recommended that you have an attorney for filing bankruptcy. If you file improperly or make any type of legal error then your case could be delayed or face other consequences.

Take your certificate of the credit counseling that you received and all of your financial paperwork to the first meeting with your attorney. Before you attend the first session, ask if he or she wants you to bring any other documentation. If you own a home, car or any other assets then your attorney may want copies of the deed or titles.

Dress professionally when you meet with your attorney. Discuss your credit card case and if you have any questions – just ask. Ask what the retainer fee shall be and work out a payment plan if necessary to pay for his or her services. Attorney fees cannot be discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy court; therefore, you will need to save up or have the funds to pay for the legal services.

Credit card debt can get individuals into a financial mess where bankruptcy is the only alternative to debt elimination. Photo: Lusi/sxc.hu
Credit card debt can get individuals into a financial mess where bankruptcy is the only alternative to debt elimination. Photo: Lusi/sxc.hu

Credit Card Bankruptcy Tip Before You See Your Lawyer

Consider visiting AnnualCreditReport.com, the only official source that the government recommends and receive a credit report from all major credit reporting agencies. With a large amount of credit card debt, you may find some errors on your reports or find one that you overlooked. Print each report off to take with you when you visit your attorney.

References Used for the Creation of this Hub:

FindLaw.com: “The New Bankruptcy Law: Changes to Chapter 7 and 13”

Justice.gov: “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA)”

USCourts.gov: “Liquidation Under the Bankruptcy Code”

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