How do I Repair my Credit Score After I File Bankruptcy in Georgia?
In my Atlanta practice, clients often ask what impact a bankruptcy will have on their credit score and how they can repair their credit after filing. After all, we all know the importance of a good credit score, right? While bankruptcy will negatively impact your credit, the silver lining in the situation is that if you follow a few easy steps you can have good credit again after filing bankruptcy.
What to expect on your credit report after you file bankruptcy.So the bad news is that a bankruptcy will lower your credit score by around 200 points. Combined with the fact that people who file for bankruptcy often have poor credit to begin with, this can mean that clients emerge from a bankruptcy with a very low credit score. While the bankruptcy itself will stay on your credit score for up to 10 years, you can still take positive steps to raise your credit score in the meantime.
Strategies for Repairing Your Credit
- Hold on to your Discharge of Debtor document. The first step in repairing your credit following a bankruptcy is to obtain your court-generated “Discharge of Debtor” form which will state that your debts have been discharged. If your creditors claim that you still owe them money, this document can be used to prove that you do not. Put it in a safe place. You will need to keep this document for the next fifteen (15) years.
- Review all three of your credit scores periodically. There are three major credit agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You will need to monitor all three because sometimes information that appears on one company’s report will not appear on another company’s report. If the information is inaccurate you will need to take action.
- Take out a secured credit card. A secured credit card is a low-limit card where a bank deposit is held against charges. As soon as you are able, you should take out a secured credit card. Be sure to watch your credit limit and pay the secured card off each month. Having a credit card and using it responsibly, i.e. making payments on time and keeping a low balance, will play a major role in repairing your credit score.
- Be sure to make your direct payments. If your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan stipulates that you will make mortgage or car loan payments outside of the plan then it is very important that you make these payments on time. Again, timely periodic payments will go a long way to increasing your credit score following bankruptcy.
- Clean up all your credit reports. What does this mean? The first thing you should look for is inaccurate information. For example, if a report lists a debt or credit card that you do not have then you should bring it to the credit bureau’s attention and make them remove it. Debts and events are only allowed to stay on a credit report for a specific amount of time. Learn the time limits and make sure that the credit bureau has not let a debt stay on past its expiration date. Also, make sure that you can identify all credit report inquiries. You will need to ask the company to remove any inquiries that are not from one of your original creditors or that you did not authorize. Finally, be sure that all your personal information, such as your address over the years, is accurate.
- Take collection agency calls seriously. When you file bankruptcy the court will issue a stay which will prevent creditors from doing things like seizing your bank account or garnishing your wages. Even after this occurs, you should answer calls from a collection agency. Here’s why. When a company that you owe money to decides that you are not going to pay they classify your debt as a bad debt, “write-off” your account and then turn it over to a collection agency. When a person files bankruptcy the original creditor often neglects to inform the collection agency that you are in bankruptcy. The collection agency might post a new debt to your credit report even though the court has discharged it. Even if you have not filed bankruptcy, communicating with a collection agency can buy you time to figure out what to do about your financial situation.
There are many considerations in the decision to file for bankruptcy. For information on the implications of bankruptcy in your individual situation please seek the advice of a qualified bankruptcy attorney. For a free consultation please contact 404.585.0040 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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