One of the principle aims of the U.S. bankruptcy laws is to give an honest debtor a "fresh start." It is important to know how bankruptcy will affect your financial life, during and after your bankruptcy case. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can guide you through the process, and get you the relief that you need, but what then? What happens after the bankruptcy court issues your discharge, your case closes, and your bankruptcy attorney sends you a nice letter wishing you well in the future? It is important to know what to expect after your bankruptcy ends, and how you can get that "fresh start."
There is actually quite a bit of confusion surrounding when a bankruptcy can no longer be reported on your credit report. Some sources say ten years, others say ten years for a chapter 7 and seven years for a chapter 13. The law is actually very clear. The Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") directs credit reporting agencies to exclude bankruptcy case information from all consumer reports ten years after “the date of entry of the order for relief.” The FCRA does not distinguish between chapter 7 or chapter 13. However, many credit counselors cite an "unofficial policy" of the three largest credit reporting bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) that removes a chapter 13 filing from your credit report after seven years.
Many individuals (and some credit experts!) are also confused over when the FCRA’s ten year bankruptcy clock starts. Some say the information must be removed ten years after the date of the discharge. Section 301 of the bankruptcy code states that the “order of relief” date is the filing date, so the ten year period is measured from the bankruptcy filing date, not the discharge date. Information about your bankruptcy must be removed from your credit report not later than ten years after the date you filed the case. If you file on January 1, 2010, the bankruptcy must be removed before January 1, 2020.
Knowing what to expect during and after your bankruptcy case can help you plan for the future. Do not be bashful about asking your bankruptcy attorney questions, and make the most of this fresh start opportunity.