Life After Bankruptcy Correcting Mistakes on your Credit Report
Walter A. Metzen, DetroitBankruptcyLawyer.com
Suite 3156 Penobscot Building
Detroit MI 48226
313-962-4656 or 888-4Walter or 888-777-FILE
Charles Basch II (313) 962-4656
Associate Attorney 313) 962-4241 fax
October 11, 2006
How to Correct Mistakes on Your Credit Report
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 - Experian, Equifax, and
Transunion. Whenever you seek credit after bankruptcy for a car loan, house mortgage, 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 is to access each agency through the internet. In the "Links" section of
this website, the web addresses for each credit reporting agency can be found. At each of the credit
reporting agencies websites you can find the means by which you can access your individual report.
Once you have obtained the 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
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 cases, you should send the credit reporting agencies copies of the following:
1. your bankruptcy petition;
2. your bankruptcy schedules:
3. the initial notice of meeting of creditors; and
4. your bankruptcy discharge.
For Chapter 13 cases, you should send the credit reporting agencies copies of the following:
1. your bankruptcy petition;
2. your bankruptcy schedules;
3. the initial notice of meeting of creditors,
4. your Chapter 13 Plan;
5. the Court Order confirming your Chapter 13 Plan;
6. the Chapter 13 Trustee's report showing payments you made through the plan; and
7. your bankruptcy discharge.
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 $400.00 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. In most cases, this will work and clear
up your 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.
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.
Getting Your Credit Report
An amendment to the FCRA requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to provide
you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
The companies are rolling this out across the country during a nine-month period. By September 2005, consumers from coast to coast will
have access to a free annual credit report if they ask for it.
For details, see Your Access to Free Credit Reports at ftc.gov/credit.
How to Order Your Free Report
The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up one website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which
you can order your free annual report. To order, visit www.annualcreditreport.com, call 877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report
Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can use the form in this
brochure, or you can print it from ftc.gov/credit. Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually. They are
providing free annual credit reports only through www.annualcreditreport.com, 877-322-8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O.
Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
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.
Other situations where you might be eligible for a free report
Under federal law, you’re also entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for
credit, insurance, or employment, based on information in your report. You must ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the
action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company.
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:
Under state law, consumers in Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont already have free access to
their credit reports.
For details, see Your Access to Free Credit Reports at ftc.gov/credit.
Under the FCRA, both the consumer reporting company and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that
provides information about you to a consumer reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your
report. To take advantage of all your rights under this law, contact the consumer reporting company and the information provider.
Tell the consumer reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that
support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in your report you
dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or corrected. You may want to enclose a
copy of your report with the items in question circled. Your letter may look something like the one on page 4. Send your letter by certified mail,
“return receipt requested,” so you can document what the consumer reporting company received. Keep copies of your dispute letter and
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
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.
Tell the creditor or other information provider, in writing, that you dispute an item. Be sure to include copies (NOT originals) of documents that
support your position. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider reports the item to a consumer reporting company, it
must include a notice of your dispute. And if you are correct—that is, if the information is found to be inaccurate—the information provider may
not report it again.
Adding Accounts to Your File
Your credit file may not reflect all your credit accounts. Although most national department store and all-purpose bank credit card accounts will
be included in your file, not all creditors supply information to consumer reporting companies: some travel, entertainment, gasoline card
companies, local retailers, and credit unions are among the creditors that don’t.
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.
Sample Dispute Letter
Your Address, City, State, Zip Code
Name of Company
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. I have circled the items I dispute on the attached
copy of the report I received.
This item (identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of
item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.) is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is
inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be removed (or request another specific
change) to correct the information.
Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as
payment records, court documents) supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and
(delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.
Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing.)
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information
to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call tollfree,
1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related
complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S.
Be sure to Obtain a copy of your Credit Report after your Michigan Bankruptcy Filing and check it for Mistakes.
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.
We are a Debt Relief Agency helping people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. Let us help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you.