Filing bankruptcy has an impact on your credit score. Your credit score is likely to drop during the weeks and months leading up to bankruptcy. Every defaulted credit card, auto loan, or mortgage payment will negatively affect your credit score. When you file for bankruptcy, your credit score will further decline. A bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, and it is likely that your FICO rating will be low after you file for bankruptcy. However, there is still hope. You do not have to wait 10 years to rebuild your credit score. Following these steps for the first few years following your discharge will substantially improve your credit score:
1. Always pay your bills on time. We recommend that you pay your bills from a checking account so that you have a record of your on time payments, which is useful in applying for future credit.
2. Apply for a secured credit card. While most credit card issuers may be reluctant to extend credit to you immediately following your discharge, you can open a bank account, deposit some funds and obtain a secured credit card which allows you to borrow the deposited funds at a minimum, but also, once you have made on time payments for a while, some of the bank’s money.
3. Obtain and review your credit report. You are entitled to obtain a free credit report once a year from www.annualcreditreport.com. Look this over and contact the credit reporting agencies to correct any errors in the information.
4. Keep your accounts open after your discharge. You may have accounts which are in good standing and with zero balances that are unaffected by your bankruptcy. Do not close these accounts after you receive your discharge, as that may have a negative impact on your credit score.
5. Beware of companies that contact you to repair your credit. With a little discipline, following the above steps, you can repair your own credit at no cost to you.