Help! My Bankruptcy Has Not Fallen off my Credit Report!
After filing for bankruptcy, you probably watched your credit score nosedive as soon as it was reported to the credit reporting agencies. Over the past several years, you have patiently waited for it to fall off. But what happens if your bankruptcy stubbornly remains on your credit report? Read on for tips on how to remove a bankruptcy once sufficient time has passed.
Bankruptcy Reporting Rules
Bankruptcies are public records, and your bankruptcy will certainly show up on your credit report. However, it should eventually fall off based on the following timetable:
- If you filed for Chapter 7, then it should fall off 10 years from the date you filed.
- If you filed for Chapter 13, then it should fall off 7 years from the date you filed.
Remember that even with a bankruptcy on your credit report, its effect should diminish over time. If several years have passed and your credit score is still in the toilet, you should assess whether you are using credit responsibly.
Check Your Credit Report
Typically, any derogatory mark like a bankruptcy should fall off automatically once the time period has expired. Wait until 7 or 10 years have passed from your filing date and request a copy of your credit report form each of the three major credit reporting agencies (CRAs):
You are entitled to one free report a year from each of the CRAs, so don’t pay. Instead, call or visit annualcreditreport.com to request your free copies. Make sure not to jump the gun and request the report too early! Once it arrives, analyze whether the bankruptcy is still showing up or whether it has automatically been deleted.
Removing the Bankruptcy from Your Credit Report
If for some reason the bankruptcy still shows up on your report, then you should dispute it. Highlight the derogatory mark on the credit report and prepare to dispute it directly with the CRA which is still reporting it.
Probably the easiest way to dispute is to visit the reporting agency’s website. On the homepage, look for a link to “Disputes” or something similar. At the Experian website, for example, you should scroll down to the middle of the home page to find the link for disputes.
You can also write a letter, which is an attractive option since you can include supporting documentation. The Federal Trade Commission has a sample letter you can use when drafting your own. Include a copy of your filed bankruptcy petition along with the letter which will serve as proof of the filing date. If you do not have a copy of your filed petition, then ask your attorney for a copy. Send the letter certified mail, return receipt requested so that you will know when the reporting agency receives it.
Technically, if the bankruptcy shows up on more than one credit report you only need to contact one CRA—Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Under the law, they are obligated to investigate and contact the other CRAs to notify them of the error. However, you might want to go ahead and report the mistake to each reporting agency individually just to be safe.
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At Nowack & Olson, we put clients at the center of our practice. Contact us today in South Florida for a free consultation.