Four Steps to Repairing Credit After Filing Bankruptcy
According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, almost 1.5 million people filed bankruptcy in fiscal year 2011. In New Jersey alone, 36,961 people filed bankruptcy, according to data from Epiq Systems. Filing for bankruptcy deals a blow to a person’s credit score, but by following a few simple steps a person can successfully rebuild credit.
Check Credit Reports
People who have recently filed bankruptcy should review their own credit reports to ensure the accuracy of all of the information on them. People need to make sure that all of the debts that were discharged in bankruptcy show a zero balance on their credit reports; otherwise, misinformation may damage credit scores even further.
Pay Existing Bills on Time
A bankruptcy debt discharge does not eliminate all of a filer’s debts. Obligations such as student loans, child support payments and some tax debts survive a bankruptcy filing. People can use these obligations to help rebuild their credit histories by consistently making timely payments.
Additionally, some credit reporting agencies are now including rental history on credit reports, so paying bills such as rent could also help repair a person’s credit score. People need to check with landlords to find out whether landlords report rent payment history to credit agencies.
Secured Credit Cards
Those who have filed bankruptcy may want to consider opening a secured credit card. With a secured credit card, the borrower deposits money equal to the credit limit on the card with the lender to offset the risk that the borrower may default. Using a secured credit card wisely and paying the bill on time each month can help show potential creditors that the borrower is responsible.
Experts caution people to look for a lender that will not charge fees on a secured credit card and to make sure that the lender reports secured credit card payments to credit reporting agencies.
People looking to rebuild credit need to be wary of credit-rebuilding scams. Companies that promise to rebuild credit cannot do more for a person than the person can do alone by paying bills on time.
People should also proceed with caution when considering taking out credit with finance agencies offering loans with high interest rates and high fees. Credit from such agencies does not look as good to other potential creditors as credit from a mainstream lender.
Repairing the damage that filing bankruptcy does to credit may seem like an insurmountable challenge. However, with the passage of time and a responsible payment history, it is possible to achieve a good credit score again.
Contact the South Jersey Law Firm of Brenner Spiller & Archer, LLP
Continuing to struggle with debts you cannot pay will do more damage to your credit report than making use of constitutionally guaranteed debt-relief programs. Contact our New Jersey bankruptcy attorneys online or call 856-963-5000 to schedule a free initial consultation to learn how we may be able to help you.