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One of the main concerns when considering filing for bankruptcy is the effect that bankruptcy may have on their credit status, and for how long. Some people incorrectly assume that their credit will remain adversely affected seven or even ten years. This is simply not true. Most people can significantly improve their credit within two years after their bankruptcy, if they follow some simple steps.
Here are a few tips to help you improve your credit following your bankruptcy discharge:
- Maintain existing credit. It is extremely important to maintain existing credit in good status. Make all car payments or mortgage payments on time. Pay any new credit payments well before the due date.
- Pay all your bills on time. Delinquent items on your credit report after a bankruptcy filing will severely hurt your credit score.
- Try to apply or obtain credit. After bankruptcy, you may have an aversion to credit purchases and credit cards. The reality is that you will most likely eventually need credit for certain purchases, like a car, a house, etc., or for even renting an apartment. If you do not use your credit after your bankruptcy, then the last entry on your credit report will be your bankruptcy. To improve your credit report, you need to have and use your credit wisely.
- Do not, however, be so eager to rebuild your credit that you incur in some bad debt. Avoid high fee, low credit limit credit cards. Low credit limits will make it more difficult for you to keep an adequate balance and available credit ratio. Shop for the right credit card. Also, you should keep in mind that declined credit applications can negatively affect your credit score. And do not get multiple credit cards. One or two will suffice.
- Understand and monitor your credit report, and clean it up. You are entitled to one free credit report per year. Make sure that your discharged debt is not listed as open or delinquent on your credit report. Objections to your credit report are easy to process with the credit bureaus.
- Beware of credit repair scams. You may not only lose the money you pay these scammers, but in some instances you may be subject to fines or to imprisonment.
A bankruptcy discharge combined with some strategic credit building will improve your credit dramatically. Speak with your bankruptcy attorney for more information about the effect bankruptcy can have on your credit and about what you can do to improve your credit after your bankruptcy.
Craig I. Kelley, Esquire of Kelley & Fulton, P.L., represents individual and business debtors and creditors in Chapter 7, 11, 12, and 13 proceedings. He is A.V. rated by Martindale-Hubbell directory, which is the highest rating as voted on by his peers in the legal profession. He is an Adjunct Professor of Bankruptcy Law at Palm Beach State College and lectures nationally on the topics of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure. His law firm is located in West Palm Beach and he can be reached at 561-491-1200 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information log on to www.kelleylawoffice.com.