I have previously written an article on obtaining free credit reports each year from Annual Credit Report. This present post goes into detail on how to read a credit report once it is obtained, and how the credit report is used for constructing a chapter 7 bankruptcy or a chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Under Federal Law, the three main credit bureaus must provide a free credit report every year to consumers. The three major credit reports are: Exquifax, Transunion, and Experian. But once you pull your reports, how do you read the reports in the context of preparing a bankruptcy petition? What information is contained in these reports?
The information contained in the reports are fairly uniform throughout each of the three reports. For each account that is reported to the credit bureaus, certain information is provided by the creditor. First, the kind of credit a particular account is will be reported. Generally, credit falls into two categories, installment or revolving. Installment credit is credit based on installment payments, such The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Planas a car loan or a mortgage loan. Revolving credit represents credit cards, and other forms of credit, that you can build up the balance and pay down the balance over time. Second, the credit report will indicate if the account is owned by you alone (individual), or jointly owned (co-signer) or if you are an authorized user. Third, the credit report will indicate information regarding the account in terms of total amount of credit allowable and the highest balance you may have maintained, and so forth. Fourth, the credit report will indicate how much you actually still owe on the account (credit reports are updated monthly). Fifth, the credit report will also indicate if there is a fixed or minimum payment amount that is contractually required. Sixth, the credit report will indicate the status of the account.
Status of the account is a factor I pay extremely close attention to when constructing a bankruptcy. An account can be open, closed, inactive, paid, charged-off, or transferred. If an account has a balance, or has been charged off, or transferred, these are the accounts we must include in the bankruptcy filing, even if such account shows a zero balance (we list it as precautionary, then, in the bankruptcy). Accounts that have a zero balance and that are closed and paid off, we do not list in the bankruptcy. There is, however, a certain level of errors contained in credit reports. I will review the credit reports with clients to ensure we have all the creditors listed. (I also have clients bring in any bills they may have, and write down any creditors they can recall for which they may not have a bill for or that may not be included on the credit report.)
We always list charged-off accounts in a bankruptcy filing. What are charged-off accounts? This is a statement from the creditor that this account is probably not collectable. This does not mean the debt is no longer valid. Therefore, we always list charged-off accounts when constructing a bankruptcy. A creditor can, theoretically, pull the account back and pursue the debt, sell the debt to a third party (such as a junk debt buyer), or cancel the debt and issue a 1099c income statement to the borrower (to be discussed in more depth in a future post).
In conclusion, credit reports, and what is reported by creditors, form part of the basis of what we use in constructing a bankruptcy. As part of my document production, I always have clients pull credit reports as the reports provide quite a bit of useful information when constructing a bankruptcy petition.
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Certain level of errors