Should I keep my paperwork?
I advise my clients to make copies of the petition, schedules, discharge, and related documents and keep them with their permanent records. It is rare, but creditors are known to try to collect debts after they have been discharged. Keeping your paperwork in order will allow you to beat them into submission with discharge.
What if a creditor attempts to collect a debt that was discharged?
If a debt collector contacts you after your bankruptcy to collect on a debt that was discharged, it is a violation of the bankruptcy code, the Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act, and other consumer protection laws. If this happens, inform the creditor that the debt was successfully discharged. If they continue to contact you, let your attorney know.
What if I forgot to include a debt?
If you unintentionally fail to include a debt in a no-asset Chapter 7 case, the debt will be discharged in most instances. However, the debt may not be discharged in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case where a trustee sold some of your assets.
How soon after should I check my credit report?
Check your credit report three months after. It usually takes a while for reporting agencies to update credit reports.
How long will the bankruptcy show up on my credit report for?
A Chapter 7 case should drop off your credit report ten years from the date your case was filed. Chapter 13 bankruptcy will show up on your report for seven years from the date the case was filed. However, if you work on rebuilding your credit, the impact on your credit rating will diminish over time.
What if a debt doesn’t show as discharged?
If a debt doesn’t show as “discharged in bankruptcy” or listed with a $0 balance, you can dispute the listing. Send a copy of your discharge to the credit-reporting agency with the schedule that lists the debt.
What should I do if a creditor reports incorrect information on my report?
This is a violation of the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you find false information on your credit report, contact your attorney. You may be entitled to damages.
Do I need to maintain a house that I surrendered?
Yes, you are responsible for keeping the property up to standards and post-filing homeowner’s associating fees until ownership transfers. You could be fined if the garbage piles up or the grass gets too high. To avoid this, it may be best to live on the property as long as possible.
Should I keep homeowner’s insurance for a house that was surrendered?
Yes, you still carry liability for injuries and other incidents that occur on your property until it transfers to a new owner.
Can I obtain a mortgage modification?
Most banks will offer a mortgage modification post discharge. But, there are no guarantees. You will have to apply via the bank’s process.
Can I refinance my house?
It is typically more difficult to refinance than modify a mortgage. You will need to rebuild your credit to be able to refinance.
Can I return my car?
If you car loan was not reaffirmed, you can return if you no longer wish to keep your car. However, if the loan was reaffirmed in your case, the creditor can secure a deficiency judgment.
Can I get a car loan?
Yes, but I do not recommend taking out a car loan, unless you need to.
Some other tips to keep in mind:
- If you are keeping a vehicle or house, make timely payments
- Make arrangements to pay non-dischargeable debts
- Set up a savings plan
- Contribute to a retirement plan
If you have any questions regarding the bankruptcy process, call the Law Office of Michael Alan Siddons, Esquire for a free consultation at (610) 255-7500.