It’s never an easy decision to file bankruptcy, but if you’ve gone through the process it’s because it was the best possible option for setting your finances right and getting your debt under control. Chances are the bankruptcy itself and the fees were a financial hardship for you, and so your discharge was hard won. Whether you filed Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, once your case is over and your debt is discharged, you still have a challenging road ahead of you as you work to rebuild your credit.
Unfortunately, creditors sometimes don’t make that easy for you even after the debts you owed them have been discharged. Consumer news reports are full of stories about creditors who sold accounts that had been discharged, turned discharged accounts over to collection agencies, illegally pulled your credit report, or failed to report your discharge thereby improperly affecting your credit report in an adverse way.
It’s always a good idea to monitor your credit report, but keeping tabs on your credit report and credit score can be even more important following a bankruptcy discharge. It is possible to improve your credit score after your bankruptcy, but that means using credit wisely and responsibly — and making sure that your credit report remains as accurate as is possible.
Getting Your Credit Report
There are a number of services available — some paid and some free — that allow you to regularly check your credit report to look for discrepancies, inaccurate information, and credit inquiries. The three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — are required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once each year if you request it.
Through the Annual Credit Report Request Service, you can request reports from all three agencies at the same time instead of contacting them individually.
You also can get a free copy of your credit report when someone denies you credit, insurance, or a job because of information in your credit report. If this is the reason for getting your report, you have to request it within 60 days of being notified that the adverse action has been taken against you.
Fixing A Mistake On Your Credit Report
If you get your credit report and see a problem, the first step is to send a letter to the credit reporting company telling them that there is an error and that you dispute the information contained in your report.
The Federal Trade Commission offers a sample letter here that you can use when disputing an error on your credit report. In general, the letter should include the name of the creditor; the type of item you’re disputing, such as a credit card or car loan; and a description of why the item is inaccurate, such as a failure to note that the debt was discharged in bankruptcy. The letter also should include a request that the item be corrected or removed from your credit report, and you should attach any documents that support your request, such as a copy of your bankruptcy discharge.
You also should send a letter to the company or agency that is the source of the disputed information. That might be a credit card company, collection agency, court that issued a judgment, or some other type of creditor or organization. The Federal Trade Commission also provides a sample letter to send to the source of the inaccurate information.
How an Ohio Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help You
If you’re concerned about inaccurate information on your credit report and how that affects your efforts to rebuild your finances and credit after your bankruptcy discharge, your Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer can help you research the inaccurate information, respond to the credit reporting agency, or pursue legal action against creditors who continue to damage your credit or attempt to collect debts after your discharge.
At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we offer all of our Ohio Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy clients a free consultation after their bankruptcy discharge to talk about life after bankruptcy. We’ll discuss with you how to build and protect your credit after your discharge, and what to do if a creditor tries to take action against you for a debt that has been discharged.