Q: How can I get a free credit report?
A: The Web site annualcreditreport.com is the only authorized online source for you to get a free credit report under federal law. You can get a free report from each of the three national credit-reporting companies once every 12 months - Federal Trade Commission.
Q: How long does bankruptcy stay on my credit report?
A: Chapter 7 bankruptcy is reported for 10 years from date of discharge. Chapter 13 is reported for 7 years from discharge (which occurs after you have completed your payment plan, usually 5 years). Chapter 13 repayments plans are reported separately from chapter 7's and are looked at more favorably by credit issuers. The real problem that impacts upon your credit is not so much the fact that you filed for bankruptcy (by that time, your credit is usually negatively impacted by unpaid bills and judgments in any event). Rather the problem is that all too often, people "freeze" after they file for bankruptcy and don't do anything to actively improve their post-bankruptcy credit score. Thus, the more important question is not how long the bankruptcy is reported, but rather, "What can you do after bankruptcy to improve your credit score?" The answer to that question is:
- Actively attempt to build a good post-bankruptcy history. This will involve obtaining a secured credit card, making timely payments (we recommend full payment upon receipt of your monthly statement), becoming an "authorized user" on a credit card account of someone with good credit, and obtaining a small "passbook loan" from your bank, pledging your savings account as collateral, then repaying the loan on time.
- Make sure your credit report is updated so discharged debts are properly reported,
- Make sure your credit report is updated so mortgages are not being reported as "in bankruptcy" after you have received your discharge, so that post-bankruptcy mortgage payments are reflected to show that you are current after the bankruptcy has been filed.
- One year after your receive your bankruptcy discharge, take action to have judgments marked "discharged" in the court records, and then have your credit report updated.
Q: How long will I have to wait to buy a home?
A: Usually two years after you receive your discharge, provided you have actively worked at building a good post-bankruptcy credit report and have the income to support your requested mortgage.
Q: How does bankruptcy impact my ability to buy or lease a car?
A: Usually the lender/lessor you are presently dealing with will continue to provide you service after a bankruptcy filing. The most important thing to remember, is to make payments on time to build a post-bankruptcy credit record, and to make sure your credit report is updated properly when your bankruptcy case is completed.
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