What to do after Bankruptcy
Congratulations, you have received your bankruptcy discharge at the end of your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case! As you embark on your journey to rebuild your credit, ensure your financial future, and make sure you get the most from your new debt-free status, remember the following:
(1) Keep copies of your original bankruptcy petition, schedules and discharge order. Although it does not happen every day, creditors have been known to try to collect on debts that were discharged in your bankruptcy. If any creditors attempt to collect after your bankruptcy, you can simply provide them with your bankruptcy case number which will show them the debts have been eliminated; therefore, there is nothing for them to collect. You may also need your paperwork to correct any issues with your credit report.
(2) If a creditor or debt collector contacts you after your bankruptcy discharge to collect on a discharged debt, it is a serious violation of the Bankruptcy Code. It may also violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If a creditor contacts you, inform the creditor that the debt has been discharged in bankruptcy and give them your case number. If the creditor continues to contact you, let us know! We may be able to pursue an Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCAP) on your behalf where, if we were successful, you would be entitled to compensation.
(3) Keeping track of your credit is a crucial step in rebuilding your credit profile. Check your credit report about three months after you receive your bankruptcy discharge. (It takes a while for the credit-reporting agencies to update your report.) You can get a free copy of your report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com. Filing for Bankruptcy typically shows on your credit report for ten years from the date that your bankruptcy case was filed, not the date of discharge. However, the impact of the bankruptcy on your credit rating will diminish over time, even while it is still on your credit report, as long as you work on rebuilding your credit. Each debt discharged in your bankruptcy should be noted as “discharged in bankruptcy,” or something similar, with a balance of $0 unless the debt was reaffirmed. If a debt does not show as discharged in bankruptcy, you can dispute the listing by sending a copy of your discharge to the credit-reporting agency along with the schedule (D, E, or F) that lists the debt.
(4) To start rebuilding your credit, you must (a) get any non-dischargeable debts back on track, (b) start building a history of regular on-time monthly payments and responsible use of a credit account, and (c) avoid taking on unnecessary debt. Make arrangements to pay any non-dischargeable debts. If you have non-dischargeable debts, such as student loans or certain taxes, you will need to contact the creditor to make arrangements to pay them. If you do not arrange to pay these debts, the creditors can begin collection action and can report delinquencies on your credit report.