How to Correct Mistakes on your Credit Report
Be sure to Obtain a copy of your Credit Report after your Michigan Bankruptcy Filing and check it for Mistakes.
I, Walter Metzen, advise my clients to follow the instructions below after filing a Bankruptcy Case in Michigan. In today's climate of identity theft and the importance of having good credit, I encourage all of my clients to check their credit reports from all three major credit reporting agencies every year and make sure it is accurate. This goes for everyone, not just individuals who have file a Bankruptcy case.
Once someone successfully completes a bankruptcy, by receiving a bankruptcy discharge, it is usually necessary to check credit reports to make sure they accurately reflect the status of each former financial obligation. It makes sense to obtain these credit reports within 3 months after receiving the bankruptcy discharge, since creditors will have had adequate time to make notations of the discharge of their particular debts on the reports.
There are three major credit reporting agencies which track your credit history - Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. Click here to read about the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act Whenever you seek credit after bankruptcy for a car loan, house mortgage, credit card application, or other major purchase, chances are that your prospective lender will obtain a report from one of these three. The easiest way to obtain the reports yourself is to access each agency through the internet. At each of the credit reporting agencies websites you can find the means by which you can access your individual report. Another way is to access all three through one website called www.annualcreditreport.com. You can order your free annual credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com, or calling them directly at 877-322-8228.
Once you have obtained the credit report, study it carefully to be sure it accurately states the status of each debt. For each debt listed on your bankruptcy schedules, the report should indicate that the debt was included in your bankruptcy, that the debt was discharged, and that the current amount due is "0". This notation is critical for all debts that you did not reaffirm in a Chapter 7 case. If you reaffirmed a debt, such as a car loan where you are keeping a car, or a house mortgage where you are keeping the house, the debt should still show as due and owing on the report. In addition, for non-dischargable debts, such as student loans, child support, alimony, or fraudulent debts, the report should reflect that you owe the debts.
For discharged debts, if the report indicates that the debt is "in collection" or has been "charged off", or that a balance is still due, the report is inaccurate. These mistakes on your credit reports will make obtaining future credit difficult. Future creditors will be confused as to whether the mistakes indicate debts that somehow survived the bankruptcy discharge.
To fix the reports, you need to list the mistakes clearly for the credit reporting agency, and provide the agency with sufficient information to correct the mistakes. It is unnecessary to contact the creditors directly about the mistakes, except in the most extreme cases. If the credit reporting agency does not correct the report after you provide sufficient information, you may need to contact your attorney to determine if further steps need to be taken to clean up your report.
All the information you need to provide to the credit reporting agency should be in your possession. For Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases, you should send the credit reporting agencies copies of the following:
The credit reporting agencies should make the corrections on your report within 30 days or so and demonstrate that the corrections were made. Once your reports have been corrected, you should find it easier to obtain credit in the future. It is important to note, however, that simply because you corrected the reports once, they may not stay corrected forever.
Many creditors sell their claims and debts to others for collection and the buyers of the claims are not always advised of your bankruptcy filing (although they should be). It is prudent to check your credit reports a year or so after the initial corrections are made and every few years thereafter to be certain that mistakes on your reports do not reappear. If mistakes show up on your report again, you can use the same mechanism noted above to correct the reports. Of course, to do so, you need to keep copies of all of the above listed documents for years - don't rely on your attorney to keep them forever! If you can't find your documents, and your attorney needs to retrieve them from storage, expect a modest charge from your attorney to accomplish that task.
We realize that after a bankruptcy, your credit report may need to be updated and corrected. It can be very time consuming and stressful to correct mistakes on your report. We are now in a position to extend our services to clean up your credit report. For a flat fee of $300.00 for an individual, and $500.00 for a couple, we will request your credit report from the 3 credit reporting agencies (Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax). Once they are received, we will then meet with you and go over discrepancies, submit a request letter to each reporting agency to correct all of the errors and show that the debts where included or discharged in your Bankruptcy. In most cases, this will work and clear up your credit report. In some cases, the reporting agencies or creditors may refuse or fail to make corrections to your report. If they are not cooperative, you may be able to bring litigation against them. Contact me, bankruptcy attorney Walter Metzen to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll free at 888-4walter.
How to Dispute Credit Report Errors
Your credit report contains information about where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy. Consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s consumer reporting companies.
Some financial advisors and consumer advocates suggest that you review your credit report periodically. Why?
· Because the information it contains affects whether you can get a loan—and how much you will have to pay to borrow money.
· To make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.
· To help guard against identity theft. That’s when someone uses your personal information—like your name, your Social Security number, or your credit card number—to commit fraud. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job.
For details, see Your Access to Free Credit Reports at ftc.gov/credit.
How to Order
Your Free Report
You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies at the same time, or you can order from only one or two. The law allows you to order one free copy from each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies every 12 months.
You need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to provide your previous address. To maintain the security of your file, each nationwide consumer reporting company may ask you for some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask you for different information because the information each has in your file may come from different sources.
where you might
be eligible for
a free report
You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.
Otherwise, a consumer reporting company may charge you up to $9.50 for another copy of your report within a 12-month period. To buy a copy of your report, contact:
Consumer reporting companies must investigate the items in question—usually within 30 days—unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all the relevant data you provide about the inaccuracy to the organization that provided the information. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the consumer reporting company, it must investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the consumer reporting company. If the information provider finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide consumer reporting companies so they can correct the information in your file.
When the investigation is complete, the consumer reporting company must give you the results in writing and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. This free report does not count as your annual free report. If an item is changed or deleted, the consumer reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete. The consumer reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider.
If you ask, the consumer reporting company must send notices of any corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.
If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the consumer reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You also can ask the consumer reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past. You can expect to pay a fee for this service.
to Your File
If you’ve been told that you were denied credit because of an “insufficient credit file” or “no credit file” and you have accounts with creditors that don’t appear in your credit file, ask the consumer reporting companies to add this information to future reports. Although they are not required to do so, many consumer reporting companies will add verifiable accounts for a fee. However, understand that if these creditors do not report to the consumer reporting company on a regular basis, the added items will not be updated in your file.
When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. A consumer reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. Information about an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer. There is no time limit on reporting: information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you’ve applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance. There is a standard method for calculating the seven-year reporting period. Generally, the period runs from the date that the event took place.
For more information, see Building a Better Credit Report at ftc.gov/credit.
Contact me, bankruptcy attorney Walter Metzen to learn more about how the new Chapter 7 bankruptcy law may affect your case. I offer a free initial consultation so we can discuss your case personally.
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