A report by the Government Accountability Office has raised questions regarding the value of consumer-mandated credit counseling as required by the 2005 Bankruptcy Protection Act. The auditor general's study, which examined the BPA's requirement for consumers to undergo credit counseling and debtor education courses before having debts discharged, said that by the time most clients receive the counseling, their financial situations are dire, leaving them with no viable alternative to bankruptcy. The counseling was intended to help consumers make informed choices about bankruptcy and its alternatives. The auditor general's report was intended to address growing concerns over potential abuses by credit counseling agencies in the wake of the counseling/education requirement. Among other things, the GAO report examined: * The process of approving counseling and education providers; * The content and results of the counseling and education sessions, * The fees charged, and; * The availability of and challenges to accessing services. The GAO has recommended that the Justice Department's U.S. Trustee Program analyze the outcomes of pre-filing credit counseling and issue formal guidance on what constitutes "ability to pay." As of October 2006, the Trustee Program had approved 153 credit counseling and 268 debtor education providers. For the report, go to: www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-203.
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