If you’ve just received a discharge in a bankruptcy case, then congratulations! You’ve just completed a difficult process and you’re ready to move on with your life and rebuild your credit. There are a few steps you can take to make the rebuilding process easier.
Save a Copy of Your Discharge
First, be sure to save a copy of the discharge order you received from the Court. That document is the official order that eliminates your personal obligation on the debts in your bankruptcy case. If any of your creditors ever try to collect payment from you, then the discharge order will be your first line of defense. If any creditor contacts you in the future, be sure to send them a copy of your discharge.
Send a Copy to the Credit Bureaus
Second, it is a good idea to send a copy of your bankruptcy discharge to each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion). When you receive a discharge in bankruptcy, those creditors are no longer allowed to report negatively against your credit. Having a clean credit record is part of receiving the “fresh start” to which you are entitled by completing a bankruptcy case. Sending a copy of the discharge to the credit bureaus puts them on notice that you successfully completed a bankruptcy case and that creditors should not try to post negative information.
Obtain Your New Credit Reports
Third, obtain copies of your credit reports after you’ve given the bureaus time to process the new information about your discharge. The credit bureaus can take up to 60 or 90 days in some cases to process new information on your credit report. After finishing your bankruptcy case, wait about 3 months or so and then get copies of your credit reports to make sure everything is being reported properly. If you see anything that is still reporting against you on your credit records, contact your bankruptcy attorney about how to have that information corrected. Here is a link to another blog post that can walk you through the steps you need to take to fix your credit report.
Don’t Try to Rebuild Too Quickly
Last, as a general piece of advice, be careful trying to rebuild too quickly. You will likely find that, contrary to popular belief, you won’t have any trouble finding creditors willing to lend to you. However, a big reason for this is that the creditors know you can’t receive another discharge right away. Depending on the type of bankruptcy you completed, it will be between 2 and 8 years before you can file another case. Creditors know that you’re safe to lend to because you can’t turn around and file again. The negative aspect is that some creditors will try to lure you into taking loans at very high interest rates since they know you aren’t eligible for another discharge.
At Bond & Botes, we counsel our clients through every step of the bankruptcy process. We offer free initial consultations at the start of your case and we’ll be with you even after you’ve gotten your discharge. If you’re facing a heavy financial burden but you’ve been nervous about how bankruptcy would affect you in the long term, please schedule an appointment to sit and talk with one of our attorneys at any of our convenient locations.
Nick Gajewski is an Associate Attorney at the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Florence and Haleyville, Alabama. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alabama, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Alabama School of Law. Nick joined the team of Bond & Botes bankruptcy lawyers back in 2014 and has been helping clients navigate financial issues since. Read his full bio here.