Since the new bankruptcy laws went into effect in 2005 consumers filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy are required to go through a government-approved credit counseling program within six months before they file for bankruptcy protection. Credit counseling can take place in person, over the phone, or online. The credit counseling session will last about 90 minutes and will include an analysis of their personal budget, including income, expenses and current debt. The credit counseling organization is allowed to charge a reasonable fee for services which is usually in the $50 range depending on location, services offered, and administrative costs. Credit counseling organizations approved by the government are required to waive the fee for anyone who cannot afford to pay. After completing their credit counseling session, consumers must get a certificate of proof. Some credit counseling organizations charge extra to receive the certificate proving that the session was completed. For the current list of government approved credit counseling agencies, visit: