It is now necessary to get a certificate from an approved credit counseling agency prior to filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. One of these agencies, and there are many, may be able to help you reduce your debt without filing bankruptcy. They can contact creditors and possibly get them to reduce the interest on your account, and lower your payments. Many agencies have online courses, or you can call them over the phone. The point is that the law changed in 2005 to require that people who are about to file bankruptcy to obtain a certificate from an approved counseling service, which states that you have had a briefing with them and they have assisted you in making a budget analysis of your current financial circumstances. If you are married, you will need two certificates. The certificates must be dated within 180 days prior to filing. It is also necessary to take a course in personal financial management after you file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and get a certificate. Most agencies are approved for both requirements.