So you’ve filed for bankruptcy, gotten a discharge, and pulled your credit report. What should it look like? Should it be blank? Should all of your creditors be on there with a special notation? What exactly should you expect to see?
First of all, make sure that your case is completed and you’ve actually received your discharge. Many people unfamiliar with the bankruptcy process and procedures aren’t clear on when the discharge actually occurs. You will receive an official notice from a U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and the caption on the document will read “Order of Discharge” or something substantially similar. Your attorney has also probably sent you a letter around the same time confirming in clear language that you’ve received your discharge and that he will be closing out your file and concluding representation. If you’re not sure, you can always call your attorney to confirm whether you’ve received your discharge or not. If you filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case, the discharge is issued about 2 months after your hearing with the Trustee.
Second, after you’ve received your discharge, I would wait a few months before pulling your credit report. Some creditors will notate your account as being discharged right away after your case is filed. That’s an internal procedural practice some creditors have. Most wait until you actually receive your discharge (just in case you don’t get it), because legally, that’s when certain debts are – permanently – no longer collectible.
All right, so let’s take a simple and common example. You’ve filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you’ve gotten your discharge, and you’ve waited a few months to pull your credit report. In the bankruptcy, you reaffirmed on your mortgage and car loan, and you had a single student loan that you knew wouldn’t be discharged in the bankruptcy case. Everything else you had – credit cards, medical bills, payday loans, etc. – should have been discharged.
First, pull the credit reports. You are entitled to a free report from all three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) once every 12 months under the FACT Act. To access those free reports, go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com/.
What is described below is based on the formats used in July 2016 – these may change over time.
The Bankruptcy Itself
All three reports have a section on Public Records, and this is where a notation about your bankruptcy case will reside for up to 10 years after your case is filed. On the Experian report, it won’t be labeled as Public Records, but it will show up near the top of the report.
Reaffirmed / Non-Dischargeable Debts
These should appear exactly as they had before you filed for bankruptcy, plus whatever payments have been made since the last time you pulled your report. So any reaffirmed mortgages or car loans that you’ve continued to make payments on, any student loans or other non-dischargeable debts that were not affected by your bankruptcy case – these will all continue to show up as they had in the past.
Old Accounts Settled / Closed Prior to Bankruptcy
In the reports we examined, accounts that had been satisfied, paid in full, transferred to another creditor, or closed – all continued to appear on the credit report.
Debts Discharged in Bankruptcy
In none of the credit reports did any of the debts discharged in bankruptcy show up in any way, shape, or form on the credit reports – save for one, which was never the debtor’s account in the first place and erroneously reported; although that creditor was listed on the debtor’s bankruptcy schedules for good measure.