Credit Repair and Identity Theft

Pick Your Painkiller

One of the most common questions that clients ask me is how bankruptcy will impact their credit score. While most of my clients see at least a moderate improvement in about 12-18 months after their case is over, every situation is different. In this article, I offer a few tips that will help you maximize your post-bankruptcy credit score and even help reduce the risk of identity theft.

There really is no great magic to post-bankruptcy credit repair.  When the bankruptcy court enters the debtor’s discharge, the debts are wiped out and the creditors should remove the debts from the debtor’s credit report.  If the creditor fails to list the debt as discharged, the debtor should dispute the incorrect information with the credit bureaus.

But what does post-bankruptcy credit repair have to do with preventing identity theft?  The answer is how you go about repairing your credit.

Step 1: Check one and only one of your credit reports.  Every year, the law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report.  I recommend using AnnualCreditReport.com because that puts you directly in touch with all 3 of the major credit bureaus.  Don’t use the one with the singing pirates and funny jingles.  I recommend that you check your credit report using 1 of the 3 major credit bureaus about 60 days after the court enters the discharge.

Step 2.  Report any inaccurate information and check for suspicious activities.  Creditors often forget to remove discharged debts from your credit report.  Disputing incorrect information can help you improve your credit dramatically.  And if you spot any new activity that isn’t yours, you might be a victim of identity theft and can place a fraud alert on your credit report.

Step 3.  Repeat in 120 days.  By only checking one credit report at a time every 4 months, you can check your credit report 3 times a year for free.

By actively monitoring your credit report in this manner, you can improve your credit score and minimize the chances of being a victim of identity theft.  Even if you don’t have debt problems, credit report monitoring can help keep you from becoming a victim.

Image credit: sfxeric

Carl Starrett

Carl Starrett is a consumer bankruptcy attorney in San Diego, California helping debtors file for protection under Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code.

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