Info Center

Bouncing back after bankruptcy.

After bankruptcy discharge you can immediately begin rebuilding your credit. While it will take time, here are 10 important things you can do to make the process smoother and faster.

1.  When you receive the Bankruptcy Discharge Order from the Court, send a copy (not the original) of the Order, along with a copy of your original bankruptcy petition, to each of the three credit reporting bureaus. The credit bureaus have 30 days to make any corrections once they have received the information from you.

Credit Bureau Mailing Addresses:

Experian 
P.O. Box 9556
Allen TX 75013

Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

TransUnion
Consumer Relations
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000

2.  About 60 days after you have mailed your bankruptcy papers to the credit bureaus, get a free copy of each of your corrected credit reports at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Federal law allows you to get one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year. This report will NOT include your credit score. Checking your credit report will not harm your credit score.

www.creditkarma.com is a site where you can get your credit score free. There’s no limit on the number of times you can access your credit score on this site.

3.  Check your credit reports to ensure that the changes have been made. If the changes have not been made, resend the documents (copies) with a letter stating when the first set were mailed. Go back to #2 and check again in about 60 days.

4.  Pay all of your bills on time! If possible, pay them a few days early so there is no risk of the payments arriving late.

5. Open both a checking and saving account.

  • Use the checking account for direct deposit of your wages (if possible) and to write checks to pay bills.
  • Keep at least $25 in your savings account and add to it whenever possible.
  • You may qualify for an account at a credit union where the service costs and fees are often lower than at a bank. Keep your deposit/check register account balance up to date so there’s no danger of sending an NSF check. That can reflect negatively on your credit report and NSF fees are costly.

6.  NEVER take out a payday, Internet or an auto title loan. The fees and interest are very high and it is extremely easy to get sucked into serious financial trouble. Once you have a payday, Internet or auto title loan, it can be VERY difficult to pay it off.

  • If you need a short term loan ask a relative, friend or your church for assistance.

7.  Avoid loans from finance companies. Not only is it very expensive (high interest rate), having finance companies appear on your credit report lowers your FICO credit score which may mean difficulty and/or a higher interest on any future loans or credit purchases.

8.  If possible, get a secured credit card where you deposit cash into an account and can make purchases up to the amount of the deposit. There are usually some fees, but each payment will give you positive marks as you rebuild your credit.

9.  Be wary of “credit repair” scams. There is no way that any company can “wipe out” the negative information on your credit report – including the bankruptcy itself. These companies and organizations charge large fees up front and you may get NOTHING in return.

10.  Carefully living within a strict budget is one of the most important steps towards bouncing back after bankruptcy.


Laura T. Alridge

Laura Alridge is Executive Vice President and a Shareholder of Boleman Law Firm and has been practicing bankruptcy law since she joined Boleman in 1998. She is active in the Richmond community, having volunteered with the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), The Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) program and the Legal Information Network for Cancer (LINC). She is a frequent speaker at community workshops and professional CLE courses.

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Hampton, VA 23669
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