Can You Legally Remove Bankruptcy From a Credit Report?
It depends on the situation. You can remove bankruptcy from your credit report if it is untrue, misreported, disproved, or inaccurate.
You cannot legally remove bankruptcy on your credit report just because:
- You do not want it on your record
- You have a good credit score again
- Your debts are paid off
Legally, bankruptcy will stay on your record for 10 years if you filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy or seven years if you filed for chapter 13 bankruptcy. After that time, it should be automatically removed.
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), these timelines set the maximum time for a bankruptcy filing to stay on your credit report. In some cases (and depending on the type of bankruptcy filing) it may be on your credit history for less time.
Removing a Bankruptcy Filing From Your Credit History
A bankruptcy discharge can be removed from public records if you prove it was misreported.
You should be wary of mistakes such as:
- Incorrect information on your credit report
- Individual accounts staying on your credit report longer than 7 or 10 years
- Creditors reporting debt and bankruptcy incorrectly
- Incorrect bankruptcy filing dates
- Discharged debts still showing on your report
- Incorrect names, addresses, contact information, or dates
- Bankruptcy appearing on your report when it wasn't your responsibility
In some cases, a bankruptcy can appear on your report because of mistaken identity, identity theft, administrative mistakes, or a completely random error. These are less common, but you may need an attorney to prove it is not your responsibility.
The Legal Process of Removing Bankruptcy Errors
You can challenge any error you find on your credit history or bankruptcy filings. They must be removed if the credit bureau or reporting agency cannot prove they are legitimate.
To prove there is a mistake, you need to follow these steps:
- Decide if you want to hire an attorney now or later in the process
- Contact the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee's Office and report bankruptcy fraud (even if the bankruptcy filing was a genuine mistake, it is still called "bankruptcy fraud")
- Provide all requested information including: name, address, the credit reporting agency or business you are reporting, bankruptcy case number, name of the case, location of the filing, identifying information about the company, description of the fraud, how you became aware of the fraud, and when the fraud took place.
- Determine the damages (money, lost homes, lost loans, etc.) the credit reporting agency's mistake has cost you, if any.
- Wait for the FBI to review the case. If the case involves a criminal investigation, the Department of Justice will not disclose the investigation unless they need more information from you.
- Gather supporting documentation and specific factual information. These will serve as evidence to defend your fraud claim in court.
- Work with a credit repair attorney to review your case or prepare you for the court date
Proving bankruptcy fraud can be drawn-out and time-consuming. A legal advocate can help reduce stress and save time throughout the process.
Waiting for a Bankruptcy Removal From Your Credit History
Once you wait seven to 10 years, the bankruptcy public record will automatically be deleted, and future creditors won't be able to see it.
The individual accounts that had the debts may have already been deleted during the bankruptcy discharge and bankruptcy plan phase. In some cases, these accounts must remain on the credit report.
Curious About Your Bankruptcy Status?
You can get a free copy of your current credit report once a year — be wary that checking too often can harm your credit score.
If you see a bankruptcy record that should not be there or any bankruptcy paperwork has a mistake, a bankruptcy attorney can give you an honest idea about how long the repair process will take.