As consumers, we have been trained by the credit industry to equate the contents of our credit report with our credit worthiness. The two are not the same.
A credit report may show that you have faithfully made every payment on time for your entire life and still you are not worthy of more credit because you can't ever pay off the credit you have.
What is a credit report
A credit report is a history. Under federal law, you are entitled to an accurate history, but not to a re writing of truthful history. That history can properly include delinquencies or bankruptcy.
A bankruptcy discharge will not erase discharged creditors or your pre bankruptcy payment history. After a bankruptcy discharge, the amount outstanding for each discharged account should be shown as zero.
Your credit report is not a reliable guide to everyone you may owe money to. The notation that a debt is charged off does not necessarily mean it is not legally enforceable.
Credit reports after bankruptcy
Your bankruptcy can be reported on your credit report for 10 years from the filing of the case. If you file a bankruptcy and voluntarily dismiss it before the discharge, the credit reporting agency must report the dismissal as well as the bankruptcy filing.
Assuming you have income, you should be more credit worthy after a bankruptcy than you were before, since your old debts no longer have a claim on your future income.
After the discharge, you are entitled under federal law to have the balance of each discharged debt reported as "O". The history of delinquencies can be reported, but the balance must be zero. If it is not so reported, dispute the debt.
Negative history on your credit report is just that: history. It does not doom you to perpetual credit rejection. It does challenge you to strengthen your financial present by saving and using credit carefully.
Fixing your credit report
You don't need to hire anyone to see that errors in your credit report are corrected or positive information is reported. In fact, many credit repair offers are scams that, at best, waste your money and, at worst, involve you in a crime.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can challenge information that you believe is inaccurate. If the reporting agency can't verify the accuracy of the information, they must remove it.
If you have received a discharge in bankruptcy, it is in your interest to have the discharge noted on your report, since it is proof that the old debt is no longer legally enforceable.
To learn what is on your credit report, order a copy . The three major credit reporting agencies are listed below.
Everyday, companies target people who have poor credit histories with promises to clean up their credit reports so they can get a car loan, a home mortgage, insurance, or even a job – after paying a fee for the service. The truth is that no one can remove accurate negative information from your credit report. It's illegal.
When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure that it will be removed. A consumer reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and can report bankruptcy information for 10 years.
If you get an offer to repair or fix your credit, how can you know if it’s legit? Here are some signs that should set off alarms in your head – and make you put the offer in the trash:
Fact: Under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, credit repair companies cannot require you to pay until they have completed the credit repair services they promised.
Fact: The law allows you to ask for an investigation of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete. This investigation doesn’t cost any money.
Fact: Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the consumer reporting company and the information provider (the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to the consumer reporting company) must correct inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take advantage of all your rights under the FCRA, contact the consumer reporting company and the information provider in writing.
Fact: Any credit repair company that claims to be able to legally remove accurate and timely information from your credit report is lying. There’s no easy fix for bad credit. Improving your credit takes time and a conscious effort to pay your debts.
Fact: If you follow illegal advice like this, you may find yourself in hot water. It’s a federal crime to lie on a loan or credit application, to misrepresent your Social Security number, or to get an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses. You could be charged and prosecuted for mail or wire fraud if you use the mail, telephone, or Internet to apply for credit and provide false information.
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