How Long will a Bankruptcy Hurt Your Credit Score?
One of the prime reasons people do not file for bankruptcy is that they want to avoid hurting their credit score. As we often remind clients, these concerns are misplaced. Chances are, if you already have accounts in collections or if you have missed multiple payments already, your credit score is probably much lower than you think.
Though a bankruptcy will hurt your score, the negative effect might not be drastic. In some instances, a credit score might even rise, since you are no longer carrying as much debt after the bankruptcy as you were before.
Nevertheless, people want to protect their credit score as much as they can, and we get that. If you do file for bankruptcy, then you might have a different concern: just how long will it negatively impact your credit?
Bankruptcies Stay on Your Credit Report for Either 7 or 10 Years
The length of time a bankruptcy stays on your report will depend on which bankruptcy you file. The two most common for consumers are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is the faster of the two, allowing you to wipe out unsecured debts in a matter of months. With a Chapter 13, you need to stick to a payment plan that lasts for 3-5 years before debt gets wiped away.
These bankruptcies will stay on your report for the following lengths of time:
- Chapter 7: 10 years from the filing date
- Chapter 13: 7 years from the filing date
Because a Chapter 13 can take 3-5 years to complete, the bankruptcy will only negatively affect your credit for 2-4 years once you receive a discharge. Bankruptcies should automatically fall off, but if they remain past the deadline, you should contact the credit reporting agencies.
The Effect of a Bankruptcy Lessens Over Time
When it comes to a credit score, newer financial information is more significant than older information. So if your bankruptcy is only a year or two old, it will typically exert a stronger gravitational pull on your score than if the bankruptcy is 5 or more years old.
You can also take steps to increase your score as you wait for the bankruptcy to fall off:
- Start building positive credit by getting a credit card as soon as you can and use it responsibly. Don’t max out the card on non-essentials but use it to make regular purchases, like groceries.
- Always pay your bills on time and remember to pay at least the minimum. You don’t want any accounts to go into default.
- Don’t open too many accounts, even if you start receiving offers in the mail. Instead, it is better to work slowly, opening one account and establishing yourself. Too many cards are confusing and could create a temptation to overspend.
Interested in Bankruptcy? Contact Us
Bankruptcy is often the sensible tool for handling mountains of debt. Many of our clients express relief after filing, wishing that they had contacted us sooner.
For more information, please contact our Plantation Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys at Nowack & Olson at 888-813-4737. We offer a free initial consultation for those who are interested.