Friday, January 16, 2015

Rebuilding Credit

Clients tell me that they receive large volumes of offers of credit in the mail after filing bankruptcy. Be wary of these offers. Do not attempt to obtain credit prior to your discharge. After your discharge, you can rebuild your credit by obtaining a single credit card and having the payment deducted from your checking account in full every month. 

There are three ways to request a free annual credit report: 
(1)   By Phone: Call 1-877-322-8228
        You will go through a simple verification process over the phone.   
(3)   By Mail: Complete the attached form and mail it. 

Bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years from the date of filing for chapter 7, and 7 years from date of discharge for chapter 13 or 10 years from the date of filing if no discharge is entered.  Zero balance accounts are removed after 7 years from date of last activity, so the accounts will be removed from your report before the chapter 7 bankruptcy itself is removed, but zero balance accounts in chapter 13 will remain on your credit report for up to 12 years (5 years of bankruptcy plus 7 years of no activity on the account).

Rebuilding credit in Chapter 13 is different than after a Chapter 7 discharge.  As long as you are in Chapter 13, you are not permitted to use credit without Court approval.  In Chapter 7, no Court approval is needed to use credit immediately after discharge which usually occurs less than 100 days after filing.  If you remain in Chapter 13 for 5 years, the rebuilding of your credit doesn't start until you get out of bankruptcy.  You need at least 24 months of good credit history following your bankruptcy discharge in order to apply successfully for a home loan.  So, Chapter 13 delays the purchase of a home for at least 7 years, unless that plan is paid in full and completed early.

Below are links to credit bureau online dispute web sites.

     Under Washington law, credit bureaus must convey your dispute to the source of the information within five business days after receiving your request for investigation. If  credit bureaus determine that the request is frivolous or irrelevant as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit bureaus will notify you within five business days of the reasons for the decision. The results of the investigation will be sent to you within five business days after the investigation is complete. If you request, credit bureaus will provide you with the company name, address and telephone number of any person contacted during the investigation. If you believe that a law regulating consumer credit reporting has been violated, you may file a complaint with the Washington State Attorney General's Office, Consumer Protection Division, 800 5th Ave. Suite 2000, Seattle, WA. 98104-3188, 1 800 551 4636.


Below is the link to the National Do Not Call Registry where you can register your home and cell phone numbers to limit calls from telemarketers.  There is a separate email verification to click for each number you put into the registry.

An opt-out link for pre-screened offers of credit and insurance is below:

You can opt-out for 5 years electronically, or opt-out permanently by mail.

You can opt-out of catalog, magazine, and mail offers at the link below to the Direct Marketing Association.  You can use this service to opt-out deceased people as well.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) also has an email Preference Service for opting out of solicitations from DMA members at the link below.

 14205 SE 36th St Ste 100
Bellevue, WA 98006-1553
Phone: 425-649-1190
Fax: 425-223-3197


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