One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients is how to fix a credit report after bankruptcy. While it is very important for everyone to periodically check their credit report for errors, it is especially important for people who have filed for bankruptcy whose focus is on rebuilding their score. Allowing false information to remain on a report can have serious consequences for a consumer, jeopardizing their ability to obtain a favorable rate of credit or even to obtain employment. If a credit report still shows debts that have been discharged by bankruptcy as outstanding, this is a violation of the consumer’s rights.
If you have looked over your credit report after a bankruptcy and have found errors, follow these steps to get the incorrect information removed:
- Obtain copies of the reports from annualcreditreport.com. Use the mail-in form provided on the site to request your credit report from all three agencies (Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax). Enclose a copy of your driver’s license and a utility or other bill linking you to the address you where you want the reports mailed.
- DO NOT request copies of the reports directly from the credit agencies, as binding arbitration could end up costing you important rights.
- Obtain a copy of your bankruptcy petition and the discharge document issued by the court in your case. This will provide you with a complete list of all the debts you had discharged by your bankruptcy and proof that you no longer legally owe those debts.
- When you receive them in the mail, look over them for any errors. Ensure that all debts listed in your bankruptcy petition show a notation of “0 balance – discharged in bankruptcy.” If anything other than this notation appears in the trade line for that particular debt, this is a violation of the FCRA. You will need to prepare a dispute letter and mail it directly to the agency. DO NOT submit the dispute online! You will also need to make sure you mail the letter to the physical mailing address of the agency, and not to a P.O. Box. The physical addresses for the three major credit reporting agencies are:
- Trans Union, 555 West Adams St., Chicago, IL 60661
- Experian, 701 Experian Parkway, Allen, TX 75013
- Equifax, 1550 Peachtree Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30309-2468
- The completed dispute letter must be mailed via certified mail, with return receipt requested. Retain a copy of the letter along with the green card you receive back from the post office verifying the agency’s receipt of the letter.
- Keep a copy of everything you send and receive!
- Once the dispute has been submitted, wait up to 45 days for a response. If the error is fixed, you need to do nothing further. If there are still errors, try applying for credit to see if you are denied or are offered higher interest rates because of the errors. Keep proof of all denials or other problems. Then, send in a second dispute letter reflecting the new date and making mention that this is a second and urgent request. You may have to repeat this process, each time keeping copies of all correspondence.
- If after your best attempts you still cannot get your credit report fixed and are suffering damages in the form of job denials, credit denials, etc., you may have grounds for a lawsuit against the reporting agency and credit furnisher.
Credit reporting errors can be frustrating and difficult to remove. If you are having difficulty getting inaccurate information removed from your credit report, speak to a Chicago consumer lawyer about how best to proceed. Atlas Consumer Law can be reached at (312) 313-1613.