How should your discharged debts appear on your credit report ?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires consumer reporting agencies to maintain an accurate and complete file of your credit information. If the information isn’t accurate, you can dispute that information or possibly file a lawsuit if you are harmed by their violations of the FCRA.

Your bankruptcy can be on your credit report for up to ten years. Discharged debts cannot be reported as unpaid or past due. Each discharged debt should be reported as having a zero balance with the following language – discharged, “included in bankruptcy,” or similar language.

When a debt is discharged in bankruptcy, a creditor cannot report that the debt is currently owed or active, late or delinquent or outstanding, charged off, having a balance due or converted as a new debt such as having new account numbers.

If you report isn’t accurate after your bankruptcy discharge, your credit could suffer and you may end up having to pay a discharged debt in order to get a new loan. It is important that your credit report accurately shows your post-discharge information .

Within 60 days after your bankruptcy discharge, obtain a credit report from TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Carefully review the report for accuracy. Watch out for unfamiliar creditor names or debts, as these may be discharged debts that were sold to a debt buyer and not accurately reflected as discharged.

If a discharged debt is reported inaccurately, you should dispute it directly with the bureaus. If your report isn’t corrected after your dispute, you may have to file a lawsuit in order to get it corrected.

If a creditor inaccurately reports your discharged debt, it may be in violation of the bankruptcy discharge, which prohibits creditors from trying to collect on discharged debts. If you are contacted by a debt collector for a debt that was discharged, make sure you provide the collector with all of your bankruptcy information, including the name, address and phone number of your bankruptcy attorney. As always, when dealing with a debt collector, you should confirm everything in writing by sending a certified return receipt letter. If the collector continues to hound you over the discharged debt, you may have a case under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.