A reader is almost free and clear of her bankruptcy but worries the credit report notations may linger.
This Dec 1, it will be 7 years since my chapter 13 bankruptcy. Will it automatically fall off my credit report or do I need to tell them? How does that work? And if they don’t remove it, what do I need to provide to show it should be removed? And will the accounts included in my bankruptcy fall off at the same time?
—Elizabeth in San Antonio, TX
Amy Myers from Ovation Credit Services responds…
First of all, congratulations on putting this difficult legal and financial event behind you. I hope you’ve seen better days since you went through what was likely a very stressful process!
Filing bankruptcy can impact your ability to qualify for loans, find a new apartment or even get certain types of jobs, so it makes sense that you’d want your record completely cleared.
Fortunately, bankruptcy does not stay on your credit reports forever. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy should automatically be removed from your credit history seven years after the date you filed.
With that said, let’s take a look at each of your individual questions, along with a few other common questions that may come up for you:
Will bankruptcy automatically fall off my credit report, or do I need to tell the credit bureaus?
Just like other negative records, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is scheduled to be automatically removed, or “purged,” from your credit reports after a specific time period.
For a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, the time frame is seven years after you file for bankruptcy. That means you can expect the record to be removed from your credit reports at the seven-year mark without any effort on your part.
When, exactly, will the information be removed?
Regardless of your discharge date, the time frame for removal is seven years from the date you filed Chapter 13.
If you want to make sure the information is removed, you can pull and review all three of your credit reports (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). For each report, check under the public records section to make sure that the bankruptcy case is no longer listed.
How can I see my credit reports?
Here is the best and only source where you can pull complete (and free) copies of all three of your credit reports:
A complete and free copy of all three of your credit reports can be pulled from the Annual Credit Reporting Service or call 877-322-8228.
If they don’t remove the bankruptcy, what do I need to provide to have it removed?
Unfortunately, credit bureaus do make mistakes, but the most common errors usually relate to identity (like a name misspelling) or credit accounts (like the wrong credit limit).
If there’s a bankruptcy on your report that should have been purged already, you have a right to get the information removed by filing a dispute. You can file a dispute if you find other errors, too.
Each credit bureau has a similar but slightly unique process for filing a dispute. Generally, the process involves visiting the credit bureau’s website and answering a few questions to confirm your identity, and then telling them which information you wish to dispute.
If you find an error, be sure to look on the report for instructions on how to contact the credit bureau. You can also find each credit bureau’s dispute information here:
If you struggle with getting your information updated or need help with the dispute, there are options you can explore for expert assistance so you don’t have to go at it alone.
Will the accounts included in my bankruptcy fall off at the same time?
You may see references to your bankruptcy listed under individual accounts that were included in the filing. For example, a credit account that was discharged may have a note in the account details that says “Included in Bankruptcy.” Like a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, this information should come off of your reports after seven years.
You may be expecting to see a big change in your credit scores when your bankruptcy comes off of your credit reports, but unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen.
Negative records, including Chapter 13 bankruptcy, can cost you a lot of points upfront, but they have less impact on your credit over time. In other words, you would have slowly gained points back over the course of seven years, as long as you’ve made all payments on time to your creditors.
If you’re hoping to see further improvements to your credit score, the best thing you can do is actively add positive information to your credit file. Two of the best ways to do this are by making on-time debt payments and keeping your credit card balances as low as possible.
Published by Debt.com, LLC