I Have My Bankruptcy Discharge. Now What?
You should obtain a copy of your credit report immediately after receiving your bankruptcy discharge. Federal law entitles you to one free credit report from the “big three” credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, every twelve months. The easiest way to obtain your free credit report from each of these agencies is by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
After receiving your free credit reports, check each report for errors. First, any debt discharged by your bankruptcy should be listed as “Discharged in Bankruptcy” with a “Zero Balance.” Second, there should not be any negative activity reported after the date that you filed your bankruptcy case. This includes any new collection agency report after your filing date. Third, any debt that was reaffirmed should not be listed as “Discharged in Bankruptcy,” and should list your on-time payments. Finally, in some cases inaccurate information will be reported. For instance, a car voluntarily surrendered back to a creditor during a bankruptcy is not a “repossessed vehicle” and should not be reported as such.
Correcting any errors on your credit report is simple and easy. Each reporting agency has procedures from contesting erroneous information, either by mail or on-line. Once the credit agency has updated its records, it must issue you a free corrected report. Review this new report for errors; do not assume that the report has been correctly amended. You may need to correspond with the agency several times and supply documentation regarding your bankruptcy case. It is your responsibility to ensure that your credit report is accurate. Neither the bankruptcy court, nor your attorney, nor your creditors are responsible for sending the credit reporting agencies information regarding your bankruptcy case.
Updating and correcting your credit reports is the first step on the road to rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy. Fortunately, this step is free and takes very little effort. Be sure to correct your credit reports and then closely monitor your credit regularly for the first two years after your bankruptcy discharge. With timely payments and by carefully protecting your credit file, your credit score will increase quickly.