Getting The Most Out Of Your Discharge
Congratulations on getting your discharge! If you filed a Chapter 7 and just got your discharge, you should be feeling great that you are no longer stressed by overwhelming debt. If you filed a Chapter 13 and just got your discharge, you should feel very proud that you made it through a tough three or five years of payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee.
Now is the time to take advantage of your fresh start. The first step is to make sure that your creditors are reporting the discharge on your credit report. Give them a month or two after your discharge is entered to update their records and then get a copy of the report. If it has been more than a year since you pulled a credit report you can go online at www.annualcreditreport.com and get a report. If you see a creditor that is still reporting the debt as owed, or late or charged off, you should highlight this item and any other remarks that are not accurate and send the report back to the reporting agency. Let the agency know that all items you have highlighted are not accurate. Let the agency know that these items should be marked “zero balance owed, discharged in bankruptcy.” The reporting agencies have 30 days to correct these mistakes. Ask them to send you a corrected report.
Next, do not believe anyone who may call you or send you a letter claiming that you still owe on a discharged debt. All the debts that you owed as of the date you filed the case have been discharged (other than certain tax debt, student loans or domestic support obligations which are not dischargeable). That means that the creditor has no right to sell the debt to another collection agency as there is no debt left to collect. If you get a telephone call from any collector, let them know that the debt was discharged and that their telephone call is a violation of the law, the discharge injunction. If you get another telephone call from the same creditor, it’s time to call your bankruptcy attorney and he or she can take the appropriate action to enforce the discharge injunction. If you get a bill in the mail, again respond that the debt was discharged in your case, let them know your case number, and advise them that sending you the bill was a violation of the law. If you get more bills after this, again contact your bankruptcy lawyer for assistance.
Finally, it’s time to start rebuilding your credit. You can do this by getting a new credit card with a small credit limit or getting a secured credit card, again with a small limit. Make a couple of purchases and then pay the full balance due on the card before the due date. Continue to do this month after month. If you get an installment loan, such as a car loan, bank loan, or mortgage loan, make sure to make each and every payment on the loan on time and in full. These creditors will be reporting your payments to the reporting agencies. The more on-time payments you make on these new debts the higher your score will become.