Our guest author for this post is Morlino and Lathea Morris on How to Avoid Bankruptcy Double Jeopardy
As more people remain unemployed and layoffs continue, more and more consumers are finding themselves unable to pay their bills and forced to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Although you expect your credit score to take a hit when you file bankruptcy, you shouldn’t be penalized twice. But many consumers who have filed bankruptcy and anxiously applied for financing soon after their bankruptcy is discharged, are shocked to learn they have been denied only because the credit bureaus have failed to do their job. Credit bureaus sometimes don’t update consumer credit reports to show debts that are included in the bankruptcy. A court ruling requires the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion to report all debts that are discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy to be listed as such on consumer credit reports. Delinquent debts that were discharged through bankruptcy that still appear on your credit report not updated will negatively impact your credit score. Why? These debts will be looked upon as current debts and will appear to a potential lender that you still owe these debts.
A customer who has been using our Complete Credit Management Toolkit to smartly manage his credit after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, unfortunately, missed a very important follow-up step. He spent a period of time getting his family finances in order and remaining debt free. But it wasn’t until his mortgage application was denied, that he realized he had failed to take a very important step. Had he reviewed his credit reports after his bankruptcy was discharged, he would have discovered credit cards debts that had been included in the bankruptcy were being inaccurately reported on his credit reports. So despite the fact in reality he was debt free, to the mortgage lender he was carrying more debt than he could afford, and he was delinquent on these accounts as well. The lesson here is this, if you see a bankruptcy in your future, remember, once your bankruptcy is discharged, your job is to follow-up with the credit bureaus to make sure they have done their job. Unresolved errors will negatively impact your credit worthiness. Here are some Smart Credit Moves:
1. Request a copy of all three of your credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. You can get them free online at www.annualacreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228.
2. Examine your reports carefully for errors. Pay particular attention to any accounts that were discharged as part of a bankruptcy. Any civil judgments discharged in a bankruptcy should be reported as discharged or included in bankruptcy and show a zero balance. Any other accounts discharged in bankruptcy should be reported as discharged or included in bankruptcy and show a zero balance versus showing charge-off or any other reporting.
3. Report to the credit bureaus any errors uncovered. Send them a copy of the credit report with the errors high-lighted, include any supporting documents from the bankruptcy court.
During these economic times, it’s more important than ever for consumers to review their credit reports for inaccuracies that could cause their credit score to plummet -and interest rates and insurance premiums to spike! It is your responsibility to make certain credit bureaus are doing their job. Be Proactive!