So you took the plunge, filed the bankruptcy, and now thankfully have the case in your rear-view mirror.
The next step is to make sure you are getting the full benefit from your bankruptcy discharge order.
If your pre-bankruptcy creditors continue to report derogatory remarks on your credit reports, you will not realize the benefit from your bankruptcy which you are entitled to receive.
Your credit will continue to sink long after the bankruptcy unless you enforce the rights which you gained by successfully navigating your bankruptcy case to conclusion.
Once your bankruptcy discharge order is signed by the bankruptcy judge, an injunction automatically take effect. This injunction prevents your discharged, pre-bankruptcy creditors from taking any further collection efforts against you.
Collection efforts include such activities as sending you billing statements, asking you for payment, placing collection calls to you or your family, suing you, and garnishing your income. Reporting improper or inaccurate information to a credit bureau is also a collection effort which is considered a violation of the discharge injunction.
After your bankruptcy is concluded, your creditors are only allowed to report to the different credit bureaus that your account was “included in bankruptcy” or “discharge in bankruptcy.”
If a creditor continues to report your account as derogatory and/or showing an account balance, this information continues to cause your credit to remain low.
This is why it’s very important that you review your credit reports approximately forty-five (45) days following your receiving the discharge order from your bankruptcy case.
Carefully review each pre-bankruptcy trade line.
Do any of these accounts report a balance owed?
Do any of these accounts state remarks other than “included in bankruptcy” or “discharged in bankruptcy?” If so, these remarks are continuing to cause you problems.
How to Fix the Problem
The first step would be to send a dispute letter to both the credit bureaus reporting the unlawful information, as well as to the creditor/debt collector. A sample dispute letter can be found below:
[Your City, State, Zip Code]
[City, State, Zip Code]
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. I have circled the items I dispute on the attached copy of the report I received.
This item [identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.] is [inaccurate or incomplete] because this account was a debt discharged in bankruptcy. I am requesting that the item be removed [or request another specific change] to correct the information.
Enclosed are copies of [use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records and court documents] supporting my position. Please re-investigate this[these] matter[s] and [delete or correct] the disputed item[s] as soon as possible.
Enclosures: [List what you are enclosing.]
You will want to send these letters to both the reporting credit bureau and to the creditor doing the reporting via certified mail with a return receipt. You must be able to prove the letter was received, and the date/time the letter was received.
I would recommend creating a file for this purpose. Keep a copy of the original letter and staple the certified mail return receipt to your copy of the letter.
When you get the confirmation green card back from the USPS, staple the card to the original letter and receipt. Do not throw anything away.
The credit bureau will investigate the validity of your dispute and report back to you within thirty (30) days or remove the remarks from your credit report.
If after the thirty days have passed since the date the credit bureaus received your dispute, the derogatory information is still found on your credit report, you should immediately call your bankruptcy lawyer.
Your attorney can file a motion for sanctions in the bankruptcy court against the credit bureau as well as the reporting creditor.
The court will order the violating agency to pay for your attorney’s fees, so you will not have to pay your lawyer to do this for you. Also, you may recover damages for your having to take these steps.
Don’t sit back and allow your creditors to continue causing harm to your credit.
You went to the trouble and expense of filing your bankruptcy, so make sure you are getting the full benefits to which you are entitled.
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