§ 4.2     Bankruptcy Petition Preparers
Cite as:    Keith M. Lundin, Lundin On Chapter 13, § 4.2, at ¶ ____, LundinOnChapter13.com (last visited __________).

In 1994, Congress enacted § 110 of the Bankruptcy Code to establish standards for typing services that purported to assist debtors in the preparation of bankruptcy petitions and other documents.1 The typing services became known as “bankruptcy petition preparers” (BPPs), and § 110 required many disclosures and fixed substantial penalties for misconduct by BPPs.2


As explained in 1994 by Congressman Jack Brooks:

Bankruptcy petition preparers not employed or supervised by any attorney have proliferated across the country. While it is permissible for a petition preparer to provide services solely limited to typing, far too many of them also attempt to provide legal advice and legal services to debtors. These preparers often lack the necessary legal training and ethics regulation to provide such services in an adequate and appropriate manner. The services may take unfair advantage of persons who are ignorant of their rights both inside and outside the bankruptcy system.3

In 2005, the intensity and complexity of regulation of BPPs was dramatically increased by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA).4 BPPs were redefined to also be Debt Relief Agencies5 for purposes of all of the new restrictions, disclosures, requirements and penalties in §§ 526, 527 and 528, as amended by BAPCPA.6 After BAPCPA, BPPs must give the notices, have written contracts and respect the advertising rules applicable to Debt Relief Agencies.7 Here and there in §§ 526, 527 and 528 there are specific new provisions that target BPPs, such as the new disclosure in § 527(b) that bankruptcy petition preparers cannot “give you legal advice.”8


As amended by BAPCPA, “bankruptcy petition preparer” for purposes of § 110 means “a person, other than an attorney for the debtor or an employee of such attorney under the direct supervision of such attorney, who prepares for compensation . . . a petition or any other document . . . for filing by a debtor in a United States bankruptcy court[.]”9 The exclusion of “an employee of such an attorney” in the statutory definition of a BPP insulates most paralegals and legal assistants who work for bankruptcy lawyers.10 Businesses that prey on borrowers in trouble—“foreclosure prevention providers” and the like—fall within the reach of § 110 if bankruptcy documents are supplied incidental to other debt relief services.11 In particular, businesses claiming to be able to stop home mortgage foreclosures that use bankruptcy as a tactic become BPPs when they assist borrowers by preparing bankruptcy petitions and related papers—often without telling the homeowner that a bankruptcy filing is part of the “foreclosure prevention” package.12


The courts have struggled to apply the BPP rules when one spouse files a bankruptcy petition on behalf of the other spouse or an individual acts as “attorney-in-fact” to file a petition for another. In In re Herrera,13 a husband who purported to act on behalf of his wife in a Chapter 13 case—signing papers, “Anthony L. Herrera & Associates, PC Bankruptcy Petition Preparer”—violated § 110 of the Code and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law under Illinois law. In contrast, in In re Rauso,14 the bankruptcy court concluded that § 110 does not apply to an individual filing a bankruptcy petition on behalf of another pursuant to a power of attorney that was broad enough to include bankruptcy relief. The court drew this distinction between assisting an individual to file bankruptcy—the role of a BPP—and stepping into the shoes of that individual, the role of an “attorney-in-fact”:

[Section] 110 is not intended to apply to an individual, acting in the capacity of an attorney-in-fact, who signs and files documents in a bankruptcy case on behalf of a person who has lawfully delegated the requisite authority to the attorney-in-fact. In other words, an individual who prepares a bankruptcy document for filing cannot fill both shoes; he must be one or the other—an attorney-in-fact or a bankruptcy petition preparer. . . . [I]t would be impossible for an individual to file a bankruptcy for another as attorney-in-fact and comply with § 110 as a “bankruptcy petition preparer” . . . . Section 110(e)(1) prohibits a bankruptcy petition preparer from executing any document on the debtor’s behalf. An attorney-in-fact cannot effectuate a bankruptcy filing without signing the petition on the debtor’s behalf as power of attorney. . . . If an individual has effectively stepped into a potential debtor’s shoes in the capacity of an attorney-in-fact, it is counterintuitive for an attorney-in-fact to be compelled to make a disclosure to the debtor prior to filing the bankruptcy case. . . . If the decision to actually file a bankruptcy petition is within the powers granted an attorney-in-fact, it would be paradoxical for the attorney-in-fact to be prohibited from advising himself whether to file a bankruptcy petition. . . . [Section] 110 was not intended to apply to an individual acting in a representative capacity, acting as a lawful attorney-in-fact, who files a bankruptcy petition on behalf of another person.15

BAPCPA substantially amended § 110 to clarify what BPPs can and cannot do, to require new and different disclosures and to add new penalties for improper conduct by a BPP. The more important BAPCPA amendments to § 110 are summarized below.

1.New signatures. When a BPP is not an individual, any document prepared for filing by the BPP must be signed by an officer, principal, responsible person or partner of the BPP. 16 Various official bankruptcy forms have been modified to reflect this new signature requirement. Official Form 119 requires a petition preparer to certify preparation of the petition and delivery of a copy to the debtor. The BPP must supply the preparer’s complete Social Security number and the name and Social Security number of any other individual who assisted the debtor.
2.New written notice. Before preparing any document for filing or accepting any fees, a BPP must provide the debtor a written notice on an official form prescribed by the Judicial Conference. 17 The notice must inform the debtor “in simple language” that a BPP is not an attorney and cannot give legal advice. 18 The form must give examples of legal advice that a BPP is not authorized to give. The form must be signed by the debtor under penalty of perjury, signed by the BPP and “filed with any document for filing.” 19 This notice has been drafted by the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules as Official Form 119. 20
3.No legal advice; legal advice defined. BAPCPA amended § 110(e)(2) to explicitly prohibit BPPs from offering potential bankruptcy debtors any legal advice. 21 Legal advice for purposes of this prohibition is defined by BAPCPA to include advising the debtor:
  • Whether to file a petition under Title 11;
  • Which chapter (7, 11, 12 or 13) is appropriate;
  • Which debts will be discharged;
  • Whether the debtor will be able to retain a home, a car or other property in a bankruptcy case;
  • The tax consequences of a bankruptcy case;
  • The dischargeability of tax claims;
  • Whether reaffirmation agreements can or should be executed;
  • How to characterize the debtor’s interests in property;
  • How to characterize the debtor’s debts;
  • What bankruptcy rights and procedures are available to the debtor.22
This statutory list of examples of prohibited legal advice has been incorporated into new Official Form 119.23
4.Maximum allowable fee. As amended by BAPCPA, § 110(h) authorizes the Judicial Conference of the United States to “prescribe guidelines, for setting a maximum allowable fee chargeable by a bankruptcy petition preparer.” 24 At this writing, the Judicial Conference has not done so. Several bankruptcy courts—by administrative order, local rule or decision—have adopted fee guidelines with respect to BPP fees. 25 If the Judicial Conference does prescribe guidelines, then a BPP must notify the debtor of the maximum fee before preparing any document for filing or accepting any fee from the debtor. 26 When guidelines setting maximum fees for services are promulgated by the Judicial Conference, then the declaration under penalty of perjury required of BPPs that discloses any fee received from a debtor must include a certification that the BPP complied with the notice requirement with respect to the maximum allowable fees. 27
5.New regulatory powers and penalties. The bankruptcy court is now explicitly authorized to issue injunctions, to order disgorgement of fees and to exercise contempt power with respect to a BPP that has failed to comply with an order under § 110. 28 Fines are authorized up to $500 for each failure by a BPP to comply with the various provisions of § 110. 29 Tripling of fines is authorized when a BPP gives prohibited advice with respect to assets, income, the use of a Social Security number and other particularly serious traverses of § 110. Standing to seek a fine from a BPP is conferred on the debtor, the trustee, a creditor, the U.S. trustee or the bankruptcy administrator, if any. 30




Bankruptcy Rule 2016 contains the following compensation disclosure requirement for bankruptcy petition preparers:

(c) Disclosure of compensation paid or promised to bankruptcy petition preparer
Every bankruptcy petition preparer for a debtor shall file a declaration under penalty of perjury and transmit the declaration to the United States trustee within 10 days after the date of the filing of the petition, or at another time as the court may direct, as required by § 110(h)(1). The declaration must disclose any fee, and the source of any fee, received from or on behalf of the debtor within 12 months of the filing of the case and all unpaid fees charged to the debtor. The declaration must describe the services performed and documents prepared or caused to be prepared by the bankruptcy petition preparer. A supplemental statement shall be filed within 10 days after any payment or agreement not previously disclosed.31

After the BAPCPA amendments to § 110 and the inclusion of BPPs within the definition of Debt Relief Agencies, there is very little that a BPP can do without substantial risk of liability. Basically, a BPP can type what the debtor tells the BPP to type, but the BPP had best not offer any advice with respect to what is typed, where it is typed, what forms are used or the like. And the typing should not begin until after all of the disclosures, notices, contracts and other documents now required by §§ 110, 526, 527 and 528 have been executed by the debtor and by the BPP.


Even before the 2005 amendments to § 110, one bankruptcy court reported this statement of the limits imposed on BPPs by § 110:

Preparing bankruptcy documents and giving advice regarding bankruptcy matters of necessity constitutes the practice of law. Bankruptcy documents simply cannot be prepared without having to make legal decisions. The debtor must decide under which chapter of bankruptcy to file, what property to claim as exempt, how to classify debts, and . . . how and when to file a plan. Even the simplest bankruptcy cases require a familiarity with principles of bankruptcy and state property law . . . . [W]hen the petition preparer makes these choices for the debtor, the petition preparer is practicing law. . . . Section 110 itself proscribes virtually all conduct falling into the category of guidance or advice, effectively restricting “petition preparers” to rendering only “scrivening/typing” services. Anything else—be it suggesting bankruptcy as an available remedy for debtor’s financial problems, merely explaining how to fill out the schedules, or answering questions about exemptions or whether a claim is or is not secured will invariably contravene either state laws proscribing the unauthorized practice of law or other more specific provisions of § 110. The only service that a bankruptcy petition preparer can safely offer and complete on behalf of a pro se debtor after the enactment of § 110 is the “transcription” of dictated or handwritten notes prepared by the debtor prior to the debtor having sought out the petition preparer’s services. Any other service provided on behalf of the debtor by a non-attorney (even telling the debtor where the information goes on the form) is not permitted under state unauthorized practice of law statutes, and so is also not authorized by § 110.32

Early decisions interpreting § 110 as amended by BAPCPA conclude that BPPs are straitjacketed by the new law. In In re Bernales,33 the bankruptcy court first concluded that BAPCPA does not authorize BPPs to engage in practices that would be the unauthorized practice of law under state law—in other words, BAPCPA did not expand the universe of permitted activity for a BPP to include any advice or actions that would be prohibited of laypersons under state law. More importantly, Bernales found that a BPP was prohibited from interpreting legal terms, from soliciting information that was then typed into schedules, from giving filing fee advice and from telling a potential debtor which documents to file when that advice involved interpreting provisions of the Bankruptcy Code and Rules. The BPP in Bernales was required to disgorge all compensation and was permanently enjoined from BPPing in the Central District of California.


Similarly, in In re Hennerman,34 a BPP violated § 110 by giving a potential debtor advice with respect to the dischargeability of debt, by using bankruptcy form preparation software that “inherently” included legal advice, by preparing forms for the debtor and by telling the debtor which forms to file. The debtor was awarded several thousand dollars of actual damages and the BPP in Hennerman was ordered to pay the U.S. Trustee Program $9,000 as an additional sanction.35


The courts have strictly enforced the technical requirements added to § 110 by BAPCPA with respect to notices, identification of the BPP and the disclosure of compensation required by § 110 and Bankruptcy Rule 2016.36


1  Pub. L. No. 103-394, 108 Stat. 4106 (1994).


2  See below in this section, and see § 4.1  WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency.


3  140 Cong. Rec. H10,770 (daily ed. Oct. 4, 1994) (section-by-section analysis by Congressman Brooks).


4  Pub. L. No. 109-8, 119 Stat. 23 (2005).


5  See 11 U.S.C. § 101(12A) (“The term ‘Debt Relief Agency’ means any person . . . who is a bankruptcy petition preparer under section 110.”), discussed in § 4.1  WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency.


6  See 11 U.S.C. §§ 526, 527 and 528, discussed in § 4.1  WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency.


7  See § 4.1  WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency.


8  See 11 U.S.C. § 527(b), discussed below in this section and in § 4.1  WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency.


9  11 U.S.C. § 110(a).


10  See O’Connell v. Mann (In re Davila), 210 B.R. 727 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. Dec. 6, 1996) (Brown) (Because debtor’s counsel was a licensed attorney, employees of debtor’s counsel who were inadequately trained and supervised and who provided inaccurate legal advice were not subject to statutory sanctions under 11 U.S.C. § 110.).


11  See, e.g., In re Martinez, No. 02-51024, 2003 WL 21849832, at *1–*4 (5th Cir. Aug. 8, 2003) (unpublished) (Jones, Stewart, Dennis) (Injunction prohibiting the giving of bankruptcy advice and forms is vacated because bankruptcy court did not make specific finding that businessman was a bankruptcy petition preparer for § 110 purposes. “Casey owns a business . . . that purchases distressed real property, or mortgages that are in default or foreclosure . . . . The property owner pays Casey a $500 fee for this service. . . . Casey provided Rubia Martinez blank bankruptcy forms of the type that can be purchased in an office supply store, and a sample with handwritten instructions on how to fill out the forms prepared by a former employee of Casey’s. Casey received a $500 fee from Rubia Martinez. He claims that the fee was not for assistance in filing for bankruptcy, but rather to provide assistance with her mortgage. On February 6, 2001, Pedro Martinez filed a pro se Chapter 13 bankruptcy. . . . Pedro Martinez listed Casey . . . as someone he paid or promised to pay a $500 fee to assist him in preparing the bankruptcy petition or completing forms. . . . Although we conclude that the bankruptcy court implicitly found that Casey was a ‘bankruptcy petition preparer,’ we nevertheless vacate the injunction because the record does not reflect the requisite basis for this finding. Specifically, the record is unclear with regard to whether Casey ‘prepare[d] for compensation a document for filing.’ . . . Under § 110(a)(1), such a finding is necessary to bring Casey within the scope of the Act.”); In re Webers, 322 B.R. 216 (Bankr. M.D. Fla. Mar. 9, 2005) (Jennemann) (“Dependable Trustee Services”—which helped consumers avoid foreclosure sales by transferring title to their homes to a trust and then filing a bankruptcy petition without the consumers’ knowing, with a false address so that notices would not be sent to the debtor—was an illegally operating bankruptcy petition preparer that was also engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. Company was permanently enjoined from performing bankruptcy petition preparer services and was fined.); In re Murray, 194 B.R. 651 (Bankr. D. Ariz. Jan. 3, 1996) (Curley) (“Nationwide Homeowner Assistance”—a bankruptcy petition preparer wanna-be—violated § 110 of the Bankruptcy Code by assisting a debtor in the filing of a Chapter 13 case after October 22, 1994. Documents did not state that the debtor was assisted by a document preparer. There was no declaration disclosing the fee ($300) paid to Nationwide. Nationwide’s owner misplaced the information and documents completed by the debtor and failed to timely prepare the documents, resulting in the repossession of the debtor’s car. Nationwide did not print its name and address on the petition, did not provide the debtor with a copy of the documents prior to filing, and offered no excuse except “ignorance of the law.” Court imposed $500 fines for each violation of the Code, totaling $2,000, ordered Nationwide to return the $300 the debtor paid in fees, and referred Nationwide to the U.S. District Court and to the U.S. trustee for further investigation.).


12  See, e.g., In re Acevedo, No. 13-12-11819 SS, 2012 WL 2062399, at *3–*4 (Bankr. D.N.M. June 7, 2012) (Starzynski) (Debtors were tricked into filing Chapter 13 petition by an unscrupulous bankruptcy petition preparer. “[Debtor] received a telephone message from ‘Triton,’ that apparently offered assistance with his foreclosure problem. Mr. Acevedo had never heard of Triton before, but called them back to see if they could help him. He believed that they were a group of lawyers, and learned that if he paid them $1000 they would help save his house. He sent them the $1000. In return, he received a fax transmission with ‘papers’ he had to deliver to the bankruptcy court with a $281 fee to stop the foreclosure. He did. . . . [H]e later learned the documents were not correct and were incomplete . . . . He did not realize he had hired a bankruptcy petition preparer, did not know what that was, and was adamant that he had hired Triton attorneys to save his house. . . . [T]he failures were totally out of ignorance and misplaced trust in a bankruptcy petition preparer that represented himself as an attorney and swindled Mr. Acevedo out of $1000.”); In re Vela, No. SA-08-CA-815 XR, 2009 WL 6506881, at *7 (W.D. Tex. Sept. 15, 2009) (unpublished) (Rodriguez) (Civil contempt order requiring petition preparer to refund $2,800 to debtors was affirmed; bankruptcy petition preparer had been clearly and permanently enjoined from engaging in bankruptcy and foreclosure services and ordered not to make any representation that she could help stop foreclosure. “For Divins to argue that the Bankruptcy Court’s orders are vague and ambiguous, implying that she did not know that her behavior with the Velas violated the court’s previous orders, is nonsensical. Divins[’s] confusion, if any, may be the result of members of the Western District admonishing her both orally and in writing not to engage in this behavior for the past fifteen years and her vain attempts to evade the court’s directives.”); In re McGill, Nos. 06-32029, 06-32784, 2007 WL 1119939 (Bankr. E.D. Tenn. Apr. 13, 2007) (unpublished) (Stair) (“Foreclosure mitigation and prevention company” was bankruptcy petition preparer that violated just about every subsection of § 110 by failing to reveal its existence, failing to sign documents, failing to offer disclaimers and the like. Entity was ordered to pay $3,424 and $2,274 to the debtor and fines of $7,500 and $13,500 to the U.S. trustee.). See also Wiggins v. Housely (In re Wiggins), No. 11-1153, 2011 WL 3471957 (Bankr. N.D. Cal. Aug. 8, 2011) (Jaroslovsky) (Defective service does not justify dismissal of complaint alleging that real estate agent acted as petition preparer, falsifying bankruptcy papers and giving legal advice. Under § 110, debtor may recover damages from prepetition preparer for fraudulent acts. Defect in service can be easily cured by alias summons.).


13  194 B.R. 178 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. Mar. 28, 1996) (Squires).


14  No. 06-03006ELF, 2007 WL 184725 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. Jan. 25, 2007) (unpublished) (Frank).


15  Rauso, 2007 WL 184725, at *8–*10.


16  See 11 U.S.C. § 110(b)(1) (“If a bankruptcy petition preparer is not an individual, then an officer, principal, responsible person, or partner of the bankruptcy petition preparer shall be required to—(A) sign the document for filing; and (B) print on the document the name and address of that officer, principal, responsible person, or partner.”).


17  11 U.S.C. § 110(b)(2)(A).


18  11 U.S.C. § 110(b)(2)(B)(i).


19  11 U.S.C. § 110(b)(2)(B)(ii), (iii).


20  See Official Form 119, reproduced in App. Y.


21  11 U.S.C. § 110(e)(2)(A).


22  11 U.S.C. § 110(e)(2)(B)(i)–(vii).


23  See App. Y.


24  11 U.S.C. § 110(h)(1).

25  See, e.g., D. Arizona (by decision, $200 maximum unless application filed for enhanced fee); C.D. California (cap of $200 imposed by U.S. trustee); E.D. California (court guidelines, $125); N.D. California (court guidelines, $150); W.D. Kentucky (by decision, $25 per hour with $125 maximum); D. Maryland (by decision, $100); D. Massachusetts (by decision, $20 per hour); E.D. Michigan (by administrative order, $100); D. Minnesota (local rule sets maximum fee at $90 unless otherwise allowed by court); W.D. Missouri (by decision, absent special or extraordinary circumstances, $150); D. Nevada (local rule allows U.S. trustee to issue guidelines, $150 for Chapter 7 cases and $200 for Chapter 13 cases); D. New Hampshire (by decision, $150); E.D. North Carolina (by decision, $80); N.D. Ohio (local rule, $125);W.D. Okla. (court guidelines, $150); D. Rhode Island (by local rule, fee over $150 requires application); E.D. Virginia (by decision, $160); E.D. Wisconsin (by Notice, $75). 


26  11 U.S.C. § 110(h)(1).


27  11 U.S.C. § 110(h)(2).


28  11 U.S.C. § 110(j)(3). See, e.g., In re Rodriguez, No. SA-06-CA-323-XR, 2007 WL 593582 (W.D. Tex. Feb. 20, 2007) (unpublished) (Rodriguez) (Petition preparer was in civil contempt and ordered to refund $6,000 to debtors; $15,000 punitive fine was remanded because bankruptcy court could not adjudicate criminal contempt. Bankruptcy court should either certify criminal contempt to district court or impose monetary sanctions under § 110.); In re Miller, No. 05-16155DWS, 2007 WL 4322541 (Bankr. E.D. Pa. Dec. 11, 2007) (unpublished) (Sigmund) (Petition preparer was in civil contempt for failing to obey court order for disgorgement of fees and payment of $3,000 fine.).


29  11 U.S.C. § 110(l)(1).


30  11 U.S.C. § 110(l)(3).


31  Fed. R. Bankr. P. 2016(c).


32  In re Guttierez, 248 B.R. 287, 295–98 (Bankr. W.D. Tex. Apr. 17, 2000) (Leif Clark). See also Scott v. United States Tr. (In re Doser), 412 F.3d 1056 (9th Cir. June 17, 2005) (Alarcon, W. Fletcher, Rawlinson) (Franchisee of We The People was a bankruptcy petition preparer that engaged in deceptive and unfair practices, including the failure to mention option of filing Chapter 13.); In re Gabrielson, 217 B.R. 819, 828 (Bankr. D. Ariz. Jan. 29, 1998) (Curley) (Richard S. Berry, d/b/a Berry, People’s Law–Arizona and People’s Services, Inc., engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by determining when the debtor should file the bankruptcy petition, by counseling the debtor on how to proceed, by completing all of the official forms and filing many additional documents and pleadings including a response to the trustee’s recommendation with respect to confirmation, objections to proofs of claim and correspondence with creditors and trustees, by advising the debtor regarding exemptions and by advising the debtor on which chapter to file—involvement “so complete, so extensive” that it constituted legal advice and the practice of law under Arizona and other authorities. Berry was permanently enjoined from acting as a bankruptcy petition preparer “in the District of Arizona or in any Federal District in which he may now or subsequently locate.”); United States Tr. v. PLA People’s Law-Ariz., Inc. (In re Green), 197 B.R. 878, 880 (Bankr. D. Ariz. July 1, 1996) (Marlar) (Bankruptcy petition preparer acting on behalf of a pro se debtor violated § 110(g) by accepting a money order from the debtor for the filing fee and controlling the filing of the bankruptcy case by arranging to deliver the petitions, statements and schedules to the bankruptcy court. “The clear message of § 110 is that nonlawyer petition preparers may act at the specific direction of debtors by typing the information provided by the debtors, but, nonlawyer petition preparers may not give advice nor otherwise make decisions on behalf of the debtor. The petition preparer is also prohibited from interacting with the court on behalf of the debtor. . . . People’s Law took possession of the filing fee and controlled the ultimate filing of the petition, this court must conclude that People’s Law violated § 110(g).”). See also Demos v. Brown (In re Graves), 279 B.R. 266 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. May 30, 2002) (Klein, Perris, Brandt) (On bankruptcy court’s sua sponte order for a “status hearing” with respect to a previously enjoined bankruptcy petition preparer, BAP holds: § 110(j) injunction action is a core proceeding; there is no jury trial right in a § 110(j) injunction proceeding; ordinarily a § 110(j) “civil action” to enjoin a bankruptcy petition preparer is an adversary proceeding; § 105(a) authorizes a bankruptcy judge to initiate a civil action to enjoin a bankruptcy petition preparer under § 110(j); the petition preparer had insufficient notice that the bankruptcy court would consider a permanent injunction at its status hearing.).


33  345 B.R. 206 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. June 19, 2006) (Tighe).


34  351 B.R. 143 (Bankr. D. Colo. Sept. 20, 2006) (Brooks).


35  Accord In re Gross, No. 08-17539-SSM, 2009 WL 2882828 (Bankr. E.D. Va. Aug. 28, 2009) (unpublished) (Mitchell) (Petition preparer engaged in fraudulent, unfair or deceptive conduct within meaning of § 110(i)(1) by picking exemptions for the debtor using a computer program and by overcharging the debtor for scrivener services. On motion of U.S. trustee, statutory damages were mandatory, even in absence of actual damages. Since preparer was paid $1,199 by debtor, statutory damages of twice that amount were awarded.).


36  See, e.g., In re Baugh, No. 12-10461-CAG, 2012 WL 1570026 (Bankr. W.D. Tex. May 3, 2012) (unpublished) (Gargotta) (Petition preparer violated § 110 by failing to file required notice with petition and failing to include identifying number of preparer. $600 fee was excessive, since petition was filed without required schedules, statements or plan. $2,500 sanction and refund of $600 fee were payable to debtor.); In re Baugh, 416 B.R. 905 (Bankr. M.D. Ga. Sept. 17, 2009) (Walker) (Bankruptcy petition preparer violated § 110(b)(1) by failing to provide complete address on statement of financial affairs; violated § 110(c)(1) five times by failing to provide Social Security number on compensation disclosure and other statements; and violated § 110(e)(2)(A) twice by advising debtor about reaffirmation agreement and Georgia exemptions. As penalty, fee of $500 must be returned, fines of $700 were payable to U.S. trustee and prepetition preparer was enjoined from filing or preparing any documents in Middle District of Georgia until further order.).