If you recently received a discharge following either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are probably excited for a new beginning and a second opportunity to build a strong credit score. Making mistakes during this process, however, can lead to substantial complications. To make sure that you navigate this period successfully and rebuild your credit as strongly and quickly as possible, consider the following critical tips for life after bankruptcy.
Keep Copies of Bankruptcy Documents
Remember to hold onto copies of bankruptcy paperwork following a discharge, including your bankruptcy petition and schedules. This way, in case creditors attempt to collect on your debts, you can provide copies of the paperwork to show the debt has been excused. Plan to keep this paperwork as long as other critical records because many other situations can arise (like apply for a professional license) when you might need them.
Handle Creditors Properly
While you might think that discharge means a whole new beginning, you may still be contacted occasionally by creditors. If a creditor contacts you, you should inform them that your debts have been discharged and provide your case number. If you are repeatedly contacted by a creditor, speak with your bankruptcy attorney because such creditor interaction constitutes a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a federal act that protects debtors from certain types of creditor harassment.
Take Charge of Your Credit Report
Tracking your credit score and report is critical to making the most of your credit after discharge. Examine the report approximately three months following your discharge by obtaining a free copy from one of the three major credit bureaus. At this point, every debt that you discharged through bankruptcy should be listed as “discharged in bankruptcy.” If a creditor does not properly report or label debt, remember that this is often also a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Agency.
Take Actions Rebuild Your Credit
Some of the critical steps to follow as you rebuild your credit include making arrangements and continuing payments for non-dischargeable debts, utilizing a secured credit card to establish a history of routine and reliable payments, and avoiding unnecessary debts. These unnecessary debts can either be the result of opening too many credit accounts or incurring too much debt.
Keep Your Property
If you plan on keeping your home, remember to make timely payments following discharge. Not all people, however, decide to reaffirm home debts following discharge. In these situations, if you intend on keeping your property, you should continue making payments on your home or the bank or financial institute that holds your mortgage will likely collect the home if you fall behind on payments. Remember, if you declined to reaffirm the debt, any payments made on the home will not be reported.
Speak With a Florida Bankruptcy Lawyer
While some people attempt to navigate the bankruptcy process on their own, an attorney can help substantially. Contact the Adam Law Group today to schedule a free case evaluation.