Filing for bankruptcy can be difficult, but it can also be a fresh start for your financial future. After bankruptcy, it’s important to start rebuilding your credit score. However, if there are errors on your credit report, it can be difficult to improve your score. This guide will cover the steps you can take to fix errors on your credit report after bankruptcy.
Common types of errors after bankruptcy:
Accounts that have been included in the bankruptcy should be reported in the following way:
Any account included in the bankruptcy should appear on a credit report as “included in bankruptcy,” and show a $0 balance. It should not appear as open and past due, or have a balance.
Some common types of errors that may appear on a credit report after bankruptcy include:
• Accounts that were included in the bankruptcy were not reported as such.
• Accounts that were discharged in the bankruptcy are still reported as active or delinquent.
• Incorrect dates of the bankruptcy filing or discharge
• Accounts that were never yours reported on your credit report
• Incorrect personal information, such as name or address.
Checking for errors on your credit report
You can check for errors on your credit report by following these steps:
- Obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com
- Review your credit reports carefully to check for any errors or inaccuracies, such as incorrect personal information, accounts that don’t belong to you, or payments incorrectly reported as late.
- Dispute any errors or inaccuracies by contacting the credit bureau(s) that issued the report(s) in question. You can usually do this online, by phone, or by mail. Provide any documentation that supports your claim.
- Follow up with the credit bureaus to make sure the errors have been corrected.
If you find any errors that are not being reported properly, you can follow these steps:
Gather evidence: Collect any supporting documents that prove the errors on your credit report, such as bankruptcy court documents and discharge papers.
File a dispute: Write a dispute letter to the credit bureau(s) reporting the error(s) and provide the evidence you have gathered.
Wait for a response: The credit bureau will investigate your dispute and respond within 30-45 days. If the dispute is valid, they will update your credit report accordingly.
Follow up: If the dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can follow up with the credit bureau and provide additional evidence or escalate the dispute to a higher level.
We also have a “Beginners Guide to Dispute Letters“
Ways to dispute:
Essentially, there are three ways you can file a dispute with the credit bureaus:
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
When mailing a dispute to a credit bureau, it is recommended to include a written explanation of the error, along with any supporting documents or evidence. Be sure to include your full name, address, and account number, and keep a copy of your dispute for your records.
Pro Tip: I have found it best to deal with all disputes by mail. I get better results by mailing disputes and this way you have a paper trail.
Need expert help fixing errors?
Give us a call and we’d be more than happy to look at your credit report
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Rebuilding credit after a bankruptcy
The amount of time it takes to rebuild credit after bankruptcy varies for everyone and depends on several factors, such as the type of bankruptcy filed, the current credit score, and the steps taken to rebuild credit. Generally, it can take 1-3 years of responsible credit use and timely payments to start seeing significant improvements in credit score after bankruptcy.
Get a secured loan:
A secured loan is a loan backed by some form of collateral, like a home or a car. The lender will then place a lien on that collateral until the loan is repaid in full. Meanwhile, your payment history will help start rebuilding your credit history.
Secured credit card:
Secured credit cards function a lot like normal credit cards. The difference is that with a secured card, you pay a cash deposit upfront to guarantee your credit line. A secured credit card can be a great option for people who are establishing, building or rebuilding their credit.
Become an authorized user:
An authorized user is someone who’s been added to a credit card of another person, also known as the primary cardholder. The authorized user can make purchases with the credit card, and the entire payment history will report on your credit report. Keep in mind the primary card holder is responsible for any purchases you make
Warning: It’s likely you’ll start receiving credit card offers after your bankruptcy has been discharged. Why? Because you’re free from debt and high risk lenders know you’re probably eager to get back on the credit train.
These offers can help the rebuilding process, but be cautious, they are typical of very high interest, and you’ll want to use them very sparingly.
Creating a budget after a bankruptcy
A good start in getting a handle on your finances after bankruptcy is creating a budget to help you keep track of your expenses and ensure that you are spending what you can afford. Remember what got you here in the first place and be very mindful to stick to your budget.
Here are the steps to create a budget:
Determine your total income: Calculate all sources of income, such as your salary, bonuses, and any other regular income you receive.
Track your expenses: Keep track of all your expenses for a month or two to get a sense of where your money is going. Categorize expenses, such as housing, transportation, food, and entertainment.
Set financial goals: Decide what you want to achieve with your money, such as paying off debt, saving for a down payment on a house, or building an emergency fund.
Create a plan: Use your income, expenses, and goals to create a budget plan. Set limits for each expense category, making sure to allocate enough money to meet your financial goals.
Stick to your plan: Review your budget regularly to ensure you are staying on track. Adjust your plan as needed to accommodate unexpected expenses or changes in your income.
Use tools and resources: Consider using budgeting tools, such as apps or spreadsheets, to help you keep track of your spending and reach your financial goals.
Although budgets can be created in something as simple as excel or even a notebook, here are some good budgeting resources.
Fixing errors on a credit report after a bankruptcy is an important step towards rebuilding your credit score. It involves obtaining and reviewing a copy of your credit report, identifying any errors, disputing them with the credit bureau, and following up to ensure they are corrected. It is also important to establish a positive credit history by making timely payments, keeping balances low, and avoiding new debt. With patience and persistence, you can gradually improve your credit score and move towards financial stability.
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