There are many internet scams promising to quickly repair your credit after bankruptcy. One of the most serious scams is the offer to remove bankruptcy information from your credit report. These offers take advantage of honest debtors who are eager to get a fresh financial start.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that regulates the collection and reporting of consumer information. One of the chief purposes of the FCRA is to promote accuracy, fairness and privacy of your credit information. Credit agencies report your bankruptcy filing as a public record, and the FCRA allows credit reporting agencies to keep this information on your credit report for up to ten years.
So how do you get a bankruptcy off your record? There are three “legal” ways to remove bankruptcy information from your credit report.
Option One: wait ten years. The FCRA directs credit reporting agencies to remove bankruptcy case information ten years after “the date of entry of the order for relief.” In simple terms, that means ten years from the date you filed bankruptcy, not ten years after your discharge or ten years after the case was closed.
Option Two: ask to remove the bankruptcy information. The FCRA instructs the credit reporting agencies when to remove bankruptcy information, but it does not require agencies to keep the information on your credit report for ten years. Each credit reporting agency has its own policy regarding the length it reports a bankruptcy case as a public record. For instance, many agencies will remove Chapter 13 bankruptcy information after 7 years.
Option Three: force the removal. Bankruptcy information that is inaccurate must be removed from your credit file. The FCRA mandates that a credit reporting agency must provide a free copy of your credit file every 12 months and respond to any disputed item. To comply with this law, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union provide a consumer website where you can access your credit files entirely for free. That site is annualcreditreport.com. If the bankruptcy information on your credit report is inaccurate, you can file a dispute with the credit reporting agency either on-line, by phone, or by mail. The Federal Trade Commission provides free information on disputing inaccurate information at its website: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre21.shtm
Recovering from bankruptcy takes time and effort to rebuild your credit history. The federal law governs information contained in your consumer credit file. Don’t fall prey to companies offering overnight fixes that may involve making fraudulent statement to the credit agencies.