National statistics show that U.S. consumers are currently carrying more than $12 trillion in debt. If you are one of the millions of individuals who are struggling to make even minimum monthly payments on high interest credit cards and medical bills or who must decide between paying the rent or mortgage and buying food; it is time to take action and to explore your options for eliminating debt.

In cases where the majority of your debts can be eliminated, and your financial burdens greatly reduced, by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy; you may wish to move forward. It’s important to note, however, that there are certain actions and activities that you should avoid prior to filing for bankruptcy.

Three things NOT to do if you plan to file for bankruptcy

1) Don’t rack up more debt – While it’s true that credit card debt can be discharged by filing for personal bankruptcy, going on a spending spree prior to filing for bankruptcy is not a good idea as these newly-accrued debts likely won’t be discharged.

2) Don’t pay off one type of debt – While it may make sense to work towards paying off a higher-interest credit card before tackling other types of debt, doing so prior to filing for bankruptcy may raise a red flag and make it appear as though you are favoring one creditor over the others.

3) Fail to inform creditors of your plans – If one or more creditors have pending lawsuits or judgments against you; it’s important to immediately notify them of your plans to file for bankruptcy. Doing so will not only result in the halt of any pending legal actions against you, but will also stop creditors garnishing your wages or repossessing your car or home.

Making the decision to file for bankruptcy is highly personal and should only be done after consulting with a bankruptcy attorney who can provide the legal information, advice and assistance you need to make the best choice for your specific situation.