When a bankruptcy case is filed, information about the case is reported on the individual’s credit file. The report lists the date filed, the type of bankruptcy case (i.e. chapter 7, 11, 12 or 13), the case number, the case status, and closing date. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) permits credit reporting agencies to keep this information on an individual’s credit report for up to ten years. Note that the FCRA does not mandate that reporting agencies list the bankruptcy for ten years; only that bankruptcy information must be removed from the individual’s credit report at that time.
Each credit reporting agency has its own policy regarding the length it reports a bankruptcy case as a public record. In general, Chapter 7 cases are reported for ten years and Chapter 13 cases are reported for 7 years. However, the FCRA does not distinguish between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases and a bankruptcy case under either chapter may be reported for up to ten years.
The FCRA is very clear regarding when the ten year period commences. Credit reporting agencies are directed to exclude bankruptcy case information from an individual’s consumer report ten years after “the date of entry of the order for relief.” The “order of relief” is a bankruptcy term defined in Section 301 of the Bankruptcy Code as the date the bankruptcy case is filed. The day the bankruptcy case is filed is the day the ten year clock begins to run. For instance, if a case is filed on January 1, 2012, then the bankruptcy record must be removed from a credit report before January 1, 2022.
Knowing the time limitation for reporting your bankruptcy information is an important part of the “fresh start” promised by the bankruptcy laws. Filing bankruptcy does not brand an individual for life; bankruptcy relieves the individual of overwhelming debts and provides the opportunity for a second chance at a better future. If you need a financial fresh start, discuss your options with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.