If you don’t speak English, you must still participate in a credit counseling session before you file for bankruptcy and a debtor education class before you finish your case. Fortunately, the U.S. Trustee’s office has approved agencies in each state that provide these services in Spanish and 29 other languages.
The Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Requirements
In order to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must participate in a credit counseling session within the six months before your filing date. After you’ve filed and before you receive your discharge (the court order that wipes out many of your debts), you must participate in a financial education class. These rules are hard and fast – there are only a few exceptions and bankruptcy filers rarely qualify for them.
You must receive each type of counseling from an agency approved by the United States Trustee’s Office. You can get the counseling in person, over the telephone, or over the Internet. (Learn more about the credit counseling requirement and debtor education requirement in bankruptcy.)
What If the Bankruptcy Filer Does Not Speak English?
Many people who file for bankruptcy either don’t speak much English, or do speak English but don’t have enough command of the language to discuss financial matters in a thorough manner. While those filers can get an attorney to represent them or a friend or family member to help fill out the bankruptcy papers, they still must participate in credit counseling and debtor education.
Approved Agencies That Provide Services in Spanish and Other Languages
Fortunately, the U.S. Trustee has approved credit counseling and debtor education providers that provide services in Spanish and most other languages spoken in the United States.
To find the list of approved credit counseling providers that speak Spanish, visit the website of the U.S. Trustee at www.justice.gov/ust/. From the left side of the page, choose “Credit Counseling and Debtor Education.” Then choose either “List of Approved Credit Counseling Agencies” or “List of Approved Debtor Education Agencies.” Find your state in the drop-down menu and click. Each agency will note whether it provides services in Spanish – most do.
To find the list of approved credit counseling providers that offer services in languages other than Spanish or English, visit the website of the U.S. Trustee at www.justice.gov/ust/. From the left side of the page, choose “Credit Counseling and Debtor Education.” Then choose either “List of Approved Credit Counseling Agencies” or “List of Approved Debtor Education Agencies.” Scroll down to the section titled “Approved Agencies Offering Services in Languages Other Than English or Spanish.” From the drop-down menu, choose your language (there are 29 in the list) and click.
If you want services in languages other than English or Spanish, in most states you’ll get counseling over the phone or Internet.