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Using credit reports in bankruptcy

If you are considering a bankruptcy filing but you are concerned because you don’t remember which credit card companies you owe and/or exactly how much you owe them all, what do you do?

First, don’t worry. Remember – most, if not all, of your debts are on file somewhere – in your consumer credit reports. It is possible to pull your credit report from each of the three main consumer credit reporting agencies and find out what your creditors have reported with regard to what, and whom, you owe. These three agencies are Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax.

But what if you think you already know exactly who you owe and how much you owe them, prior to filing for bankruptcy? It is still a good practice to pull your credit reports before you file, anyway.

You should pull your credit reports because you may have forgotten a debt, a creditor may be reporting that you owe more than you think you do, and/or one or more of your debts may have been sold to a debt buyer without your knowledge. This is just a good due diligence practice.

The official site for free credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies is annualcreditreport.com. You don’t need to use the ones you see advertised on TV – they will cost you some money, possibly every month. So watch out what services you might be signing up for when you are surfing the net looking for credit report sources.

If you are going to hire an attorney to help with the bankruptcy, speak to that attorney first before you go to the trouble of pulling the reports, unless you just want to see them anyway. The attorney may already have a credit reporting service they want to use. Tell the attorney that you want a copy of the credit report they pull for you. Or, they may want you to pull your own reports first, before starting on your bankruptcy case. Different lawyers go about the preparation of a bankruptcy case in different ways.

Photo by Adam Baker.

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