Have you been applying for credit after your bankruptcy discharge, but can’t seem to secure a line of credit even with the credit card companies that are known to be consumer-friendly to those that are just getting out of bankruptcy? Sure, the notion may exist in your mind that no creditor wants to offer consumers credit if they just filed for bankruptcy, but this is untrue. There is a subset of credit card companies that are willing to offer people like your credit, but it may not be the bankruptcy that is holding you back from getting such credit. The reason for this may be something that happens all too often – inaccurate credit reporting. The majority of Americans don’t even know when their credit reports are inaccurate, and they just live with it. Meanwhile, a major reason for all their credit denials could have been the inaccuracy itself.
Getting yourself back on your feet after a bankruptcy discharge will sometimes necessitate credit applications to reestablish your credit. What most people don’t know is that in a vast number of circumstances, their credit could inaccurately be reporting on the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. It is extremely important to obtain your credit reports to make sure that accounts are reporting as they should and that the “Public Records” section of your credit report is up-to-date and accurate.
AnnualCreditReport.com allows consumers to pull their credit reports for free once a week. Checking your AnnualCreditReport credit reports has no impact on your credit score. This is not a “hard inquiry” or a “hard pull” that most people are familiar with.
After a no-asset Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge, all unsecured accounts that were opened prior to the bankruptcy petition should be reported as “included in bankruptcy” and should reflect a $0 (zero dollar) balance. Whether you included the account in your bankruptcy petition or not is relevant so long as your bankruptcy was a no-asset bankruptcy and the subject account was opened PRIOR to the date that you filed your bankruptcy petition. There are some exceptions, such as student loans and other non-dischargeable debt.
The account on your credit should not report anything besides a zero dollar balance and a status of “discharged in bankruptcy” or similar language. This means all account statuses such as “charge off” or “late” or “outstanding balance” are inaccurate statuses that could have been the reason that you have been denied credit. For a credit bureau not to have reasonable procedures in place to assure that these statuses on bankruptcy discharged accounts are fair credit reporting act violations.
What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (the “FCRA”) is a federal law designed to protect consumers from harm caused by inaccurate credit reporting. The law keeps the credit bureaus in check, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax, and creates an obligation on them to assure that their procedures assure maximum possible accuracy in their credit reporting.
What can you do about inaccuracies in your credit reports?
Our firm helps consumers handle inaccuracies on their credit reports, reach out to us using the contact form on our website for a FREE evaluation of your credit reports to determine if one of your accounts is reporting inaccurately after your bankruptcy discharge. We will also consult with you as to whether you have a viable claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
If we do find that you have a claim under the FCRA, we will handle your claim at no cost to you! We never charge our clients for FCRA claims.
FCRA Dispute Letters
While we offer this free service to you, you can also try to resolve the inaccuracy by yourself by sending the bureaus a fair credit reporting act letter disputing the inaccurate account. Include today’s date, your name, date of birth, address, phone number, and social security number on the letter addressed to the respective credit reporting agency that is inaccurately reporting your account. Each address for the three major credit reporting agencies are listed below:
Equifax Information Services, LLC
PO Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
The body of the FCRA dispute letter should indicate that the subject account is inaccurately reporting on your consumer credit report and that the account was actually included in your bankruptcy and discharged. Make sure to send your letter via certified mail and track its delivery. Give the credit reporting agency 45 days to send you a response to your dispute. The agency will advise whether they’ve updated the credit report to report accurately or verified it as accurate and kept the reporting as it is. If your credit report remains unchanged or if you never receive a response to your dispute, contact us and we will advise you of your options in escalating this claim. We provide these consultations free of charge.
Under the FCRA, the law allows you to recover four types of damages. 1.) Actual damages are the actual losses you suffer. For example, if you were denied credit or if you had to go to the doctor for your physical or emotional distress caused by the inaccurate credit reporting and your inability to obtain credit after your bankruptcy discharge, this goes towards your actual damages that you could be compensated for. 2) Statutory damages compensate you between $100 to $1,000 for a violation of the FCRA. This is guided by the actual statute that entitles you to recover this. 3) Punitive damages are damages decided by Courts to deter credit bureaus from the type of conduct that you were harmed by. 4) Attorney’s fees and costs – you will never have to pay us as your attorney for handling an FCRA case on your behalf, our payment can be recovered as damages against the credit bureaus in an FCRA lawsuit. This is why we can take your case at no charge to you.
If you have questions about whether Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax are inaccurately reporting your credit after your bankruptcy discharge, contact us for a FREE case evaluation!