Frequently Asked Questions about Bankruptcy


How do I obtain a free credit report?

To receive a free annual credit report, you can visit www.annualcreditreport.com. Alternatively, you can call or send a written request to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
Post Office Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
877-322-8228

Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each credit reporting agency.

If you think there is an error in your credit report and want to correct it, then you must contact the particular credit reporting agency directly:

For more information on disputing credit reporting errors, reestablishing credit, and addressing credit problems, please either:


How long does a bankruptcy case stay on my credit report?

A bankruptcy will generally affect your credit rating for 7 to 10 years. However, this depends entirely on the individual credit reporting agency.

Credit reporting agencies are subject to and governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a federal law. However, the Bankruptcy Court does not control the type of information that an agency reports or how long an agency keeps a filing in its records.

It is important to remember that a bankruptcy filing will not help your credit score. However, if you are not able to pay all of your debts as they become due, then delinquent payments, missed payments, and defaults will have a negative effect on your credit score.


What is "credit counseling"?

The Bankruptcy Code requires that you receive "credit counseling" from an "approved agency" within 180 days before filing a bankruptcy case. The credit counseling may be done individually or with your spouse and may be completed in person, over the phone, or on the Internet. Your "certificate of credit counseling" is required and must be filed with the Court when your bankruptcy case is filed.


What is the "debtor education" or "financial management" course?

The Bankruptcy Code requires you to complete "a course in personal financial management" before the Court will grant a discharge.

In Chapter 7 cases, the course must be completed and a certification must be filed with the Court within 45 days after the first date set for the Meeting of Creditors. Otherwise, your case will be closed without a discharge.

In Chapter 13 cases, the course must be completed and a certification must be filed with the Court before you make your last plan payment or request a discharge. Otherwise, your case will be closed without a discharge.


Where do I send my Chapter 13 payment?

Do NOT send your trustee payments to our office. Your bankruptcy trustee has a specific address where you should send payments. Please contact your bankruptcy trustee:

Pamela Simmons-Beasley — 803-779-5100

William K. Stephenson, Jr. — 803-254-2981

Immediately after your Chapter 13 case is filed the trustee's office will send you a letter with your payment due date as well as the payment address. You must send your first full payment to your trustee within 30 days after your bankruptcy case is filed.


How much is my Chapter 13 payment?

Your first payment is the amount that is listed on your proposed Chapter 13 plan that is filed with your bankruptcy case. Please review your copies of your bankruptcy plan and schedules that were given to you at the end of your filing appointment.

However, your payment may change later as a result of trustee requirements, creditor objections, or changes in your mortgage or escrow payments.

If you are unsure about the correct amount of your current Chapter 13 payment, please contact our office or your bankruptcy trustee:

Pamela Simmons-Beasley — 803-779-5100

William K. Stephenson, Jr. — 803-254-2981


What if my payroll deduction hasn't started yet?

You are responsible for making your bankruptcy payment directly to your trustee until your employer starts sending your payments to the trustee.

Even if you are on a "pay order" you are still responsible for making sure your bankruptcy payments are received by the trustee. If your employer does not withhold and send your payment to the trustee, then you must send your payment to the trustee yourself.


What if I can't make my Chapter 13 payment on time?

If you can't make a Chapter 13 payment on time according to the terms of your confirmed plan, then you should contact our office or your bankruptcy trustee to explain the problem.

Under certain circumstances, the trustee may allow you to catch up on missed plan payments. Significant changes in your circumstances may require that your plan be amended.

You may also ask for a temporary stay of plan payments by filing a motion for a moratorium. Under some circumstances, you may ask for a hardship discharge to end the case and obtain a limited Chapter 13 discharge.

If the problem is a permanent one and you are no longer able to make payments under the plan, then the trustee may ask the Court to dismiss your case or convert your case to a Chapter 7 case.


Can I borrow money while I am in bankruptcy?

You may not incur debt while you are in Chapter 13 bankruptcy without first obtaining permission from the Bankruptcy Court. If it is necessary for you to buy a vehicle or other item on credit or through installment payments, then please contact our office. A motion to incur debt must be prepared and filed to ask for permission from the Bankruptcy Court


What is my bankruptcy payoff?

Your trustee can provide you with a payoff amount. Please contact your bankruptcy trustee:

Pamela Simmons-Beasley — 803-779-5100

William K. Stephenson, Jr. — 803-254-2981

Your trustee may require you to submit a written payoff request.


What happens after I make my last payment?

After the trustee has sent all payments to your creditors, you will receive a Notice of Plan Completion from the trustee.

However, before the Bankruptcy Court can enter a discharge, you must:

  • complete a financial management course and file the certificate and

  • file and serve a Certification of Plan Completion and Request for Discharge.

Please contact our office when you receive a Notice of Plan Completion from the trustee. If you have not completed the financial management course, then we can provide the information you need to complete the course. We can then prepare your Certification of Plan Completion and Request for Discharge to be filed and served on your creditors. If no objection to discharge is filed, then the Bankruptcy Court will issue your discharge.