The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that helps ensure the accuracy, fairness and privacy of your credit information. The FCRA requires that each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months as long as you request it.
Your credit report includes information about where you live, how you pay your bills, whether you have been sued, and whether you have filed for bankruptcy. The credit reporting companies then sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that need to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment or renting property.
It is important to review your credit report at least annually to make sure it is accurate. Inaccurate information could keep you from getting credit or from being given the best available terms on a loan. Inaccurate information also could prevent you from getting a new job because many employers look at your credit history before making an employment offer. Finally, checking your credit report is important to guard against identity theft, because you can see whether any unauthorized lines of credit have been opened in your name.
The information contained in your credit report includes:
– Personal identifying information, such as your name, birth date, social security number, phone number, current and previous addresses, as well as current and previous employers.
– Credit history, including which credit accounts you have, when they were opened, what kind of account it is, your credit line and minimum monthly payment, as well as payment history and whether the account is still open.
– Public records information, such as tax liens, court judgments, bankruptcies, and other information available via public record.
– Report inquiries, lists people and businesses who have received a copy of your credit report or those who were authorized to view the report.
– Dispute statements: consumers and creditors may add information to clarify or dispute report entries.
Credit Scores And Bankruptcy
A credit score is a three digit number that tells how likely you are to repay your bills or debts. The most commonly used credit score is the FICO score. It ranges from 300 to 850. The higher the number the better. In general, a score above 700 is considered good.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy (a straight bankruptcy) stays on your credit report, and thus affects your credit score for 10 years from the date the bankruptcy was filed. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy (a repayment bankruptcy) stays on your credit report for 7 years from the date the bankruptcy was filed. However, in both case, the bankruptcy affects your credit less and less as time goes by and as you add new, positive information to your credit report.
Repairing Your Credit After Bankruptcy
While your credit rating will initially be lowered because of a bankruptcy, you can rebuild your credit score after bankruptcy. This typically involves building a positive payment history with new creditors or with old creditors who continue to extend you credit after the bankruptcy. Some possible steps include:
-Opening a new checking and savings account;
-Getting a retail or gas credit card;
-Paying off your balances every month;
-Paying your bills on time;
-Monitoring and correcting your credit report; and
-Establishing and maintaining a budget.
There is life after bankruptcy. If you live in the West Palm Beach area and you are struggling with serious financial debt, please call the Law Office of Kelley & Fulton, P.L. at 561-491-1200. We can get you a fresh financial start and help get you back on your feet.
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