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When Can I Get a Bankruptcy Off My Credit Report?

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If you’ve been through a bankruptcy, you probably can’t wait until it’s removed from your credit reports. How long does it take? Is it automatic? And is there anything you can do to speed up the process? That’s what Jack, a blog reader asked recently:

My bankruptcy is due to be deleted in March of 2014. I was trying to get it removed by sending letters to the 3 FICO Credit Reporting Agencies. One replied back that the file had been deleted and one replied that the information was correct. And I haven’t heard from the 3rd one as yet. Is there any way to get the bankruptcy removed now? As one deleted it and one hasn’t? Could I possibly challenge the reporting agency that said the information was correct?

Information about bankruptcy filings are maintained by the court in which the case was filed. It is known as “public record” information. Credit reporting agencies get information about these filings from the courts, and verify them with the courts when there is a dispute. You can always check that information yourself using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.

Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, bankruptcies can be reported for 10 years from the filing date (not the discharge date, which comes later). However, all three major credit reporting agencies will remove Chapter 13 bankruptcies seven years from the date the case was filed. Chapter 13 cases are those in which the debtor pays some or all of their debt back over time.

But the filing itself is not the only information about your bankruptcy that appears on your credit reports. “One is the public record, the court filing; the other are the individual accounts (included in the bankruptcy),” says Rod Griffin, director of public education for the credit reporting bureau Experian.

Each account included in the filing will list a notation, “included in bankruptcy.” Those accounts will be deleted seven years from the date the account originally went delinquent and was never brought current, leading up to when it was included in the filing, he goes on to explain. “In most cases, the accounts will be deleted before the bankruptcy is removed,” Griffin says.

As for the bankruptcy itself, our reader doesn’t have to do anything specific to get it removed after the seven- or 10-year reporting period is up. “It’s automatic,” says Griffin. “We track the filing date and we will delete the public record automatically.”

As for the fact that one of the agencies removed Jack’s bankruptcy after he disputed it? He got lucky.

Unlike an old collection account where the collection agency may no longer be in business or may not have the debt anymore and not bother to respond to a consumer dispute, this type of information is easy to verify with the courts. As long as it’s part of the public record, it can be reported. (Inaccurate information about a bankruptcy can be disputed, of course.) So it’s not surprising that he hasn’t had success getting the other two agencies to delete the bankruptcy from his credit reports.

In the meantime, Jack should make sure he has current positive credit references listed on his credit reports. It’s a myth that you can’t get credit after bankruptcy, and once that filing no longer appears on his credit reports, he could actually see his credit scores drop again if he hasn’t made an effort to rebuild credit in the meantime.

Image: iStockphoto

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  • http://none Wendy dorr

    I have a low credit score, if anyone can recommend a credit card for a low credit score, let me know. also, what is a secured credit card? Thank you for your help


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      A Secured Card Can Help You Rebuild Your Credit
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    • marilyn vp

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    • deejay

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  • mikeh

    Capital one issued me a credit card for $4,000 in less than a month after discharge and another about 5 months after discharge for an additional $3,000. High rate, but no fees…

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Unfortunately if you file bankruptcy it will remain on your credit reports for ten years, even if you never went through with it. The filing is a matter of public record, and that is what is being reported. You may want to check with your attorney to see he or she has any suggestions.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I don’t know how to retrieve the passwords if you lost them. But you can create a new request – I just did that myself for my annual review and it worked fine.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    That’s a really interesting question. By law, bankruptcy can be reported for ten years from the filing date. The fact that the major credit reporting agencies remove Chapter 13 cases 7 years after filing is voluntary. So they aren’t under any legal obligation to remove it that I am aware of. However, the intent of that program is to give you “credit” so to speak for repaying some of your debt. You could try filing a complaint with the CFPB and see what happens…I’d be interested in the results.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Have you disputed it? That’s your first step. Please read: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Tish J

    Billy Mac,

    I’m interested in knowing what your outcome was. I too, am experiencing the same dilemma. I filed Chapter 13 in 2008 and converted 2012 with almost 4 years of payment history. I have since mailed off a dispute to all 3 Credit Bureaus asking for a deletion due to the fact that I have made payments to the creditors. I have searched high and low looking for laws/rules that govern the deletion time frame for converting a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7 and have found none. Considering that I read on one of Experian’s credit forum stating Chapter 13 will be deleted after 7 years for payments being to creditors and Chapter 7 10 years due to no payments being made at all, I am praying to God they will delete mine because I have made 4 years of payment via payroll deductions. When my results come back I will re post.

  • Lily Pie Molina

    Won’t happen

  • Barbara Goldfuss

    I filed for bankruptcy in oct.of 2005,10 yrs. ago. Will this bankruptcy automaticly fall off my credit report, or do I have to go through many exhausting head trips to get it off? I have my credit report coming ,from all 3 reporting companies, In 3 weeks.

    • Credit Experts

      It should come off automatically (but you might want to give them 30 days . . .). If it does not, dispute it.

  • Ruth

    I believe it is time the American government reviews the bankruptcy/credit matter. The government does not have your/our personal life issues that brought an individual/couple to file bankruptcy. The government perceives we are reckless individuals re managing our finances. For us and many others, bankruptcy was due to medical. To support my statement on medical, I will give you two examples: Example (1).Daughter diagnosed dyslexia who needed to be rehabilitated in language. Public school system was not able to provide the appropriate education, even with an IEP. School system’s special education director politically tied into the state government. Hmm. Read between the lines! Unfortunately, we exhausted all educational mediation options, so we had no other choice, but to hire legal counsel. (Husband was in business with 2 partners at this time. We opted to have our partnership bought out, because we needed the immediate cash to pay the professional team advocating for our daughter.) The local educational school system and the state special educational department were changing their strategy every day to try and break us and my daughter so, there would be no case. If, the school system had serviced our daughter as required under Fed Law and State Law, then we would not have been in a position needing to file bankruptcy. The school system knew she needed this special teaching method, Orton Gillingham, at age 5, but did nothing!) The school system’s plan was to socially promote her, as school systems have and are doing across this country. Example (2) I fell and broke my wrist. Eight weeks later, when the doctor took the external fixator and cast off, I could not move my shoulder to my hand. My hand was shaped and locked in a lobster claw shape. Multiple medical errors. Permanently disabled with a hand contracture. I had a solid malpractice case, but because American Tort Law is obsolete, doctors prevail 95% and patient 5%. Since very difficult to prevail on that percentage, we had to
    accept there would be no compensation for the doctor’s negligence. No compensation received from the negligent doctor. Meanwhile, I went through 2 more surgeries and 3 years PT (Total time including at PT institution 3x/week. Total per day PT = 19Hrs./24Hrs.) Malpractice doctor is still out practicing, today, meanwhile he admitted I was one of 4, that he made medical errors on! We had medical insurance, but much was not covered by the insurance. Only, a wealthy person could have paid the outrageous medical bills. So, we were left with no other alternative, other then to file bankruptcy. Consequently, like many of you, we are now marked for years with 2 bankruptcies on our credit report. If, only the government knew how devastating it is to have to decide to file bankruptcy, especially when we did nothing wrong! The educational and medical systems are in the wrong, but we have been penalized emotionally and on credit reports/public records! Thank you for reading. I wish you all the best.

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