While it may be common knowledge that filing for bankruptcy will cause your credit to take a significant hit, it's in no way a credit death sentence. In fact, there are some steps you can take right away after filing to start strengthening and rebuilding your credit. Below, attorney Nancy V. Jacob in Cincinnati, OH, discusses a few of these paths to credit repair.
Monitor Your Credit Score & Report
First, be an informed consumer. The more you know about your credit standing, the better equipped you can be to form a plan that effectively reclaims your financial future. There are several companies that allow you to check credit scores for free — take advantage of these in the first several months following bankruptcy and track your score for any improvements or setbacks. Also, obtain a copy of your full credit report from time to time, and make sure everything is accurate. If you see an error, no matter how small, contact the issuing credit bureau directly and find ways to resolve the issue with them — this is not an uncommon occurrence, and they have grievance processes in place to help. Go to annualcreditreport.com for a free copy of your credit report. You are entitled to one from each of the 3 credit bureaus once a year, only download one so that you can get another copy at a later time.
Get a Secured or Co-Signed Credit Card
The idea of getting a credit card soon after bankruptcy may be scary or uncomfortable. But it's actually one of the best steps you can take to get back on stronger financial footing. With most secured cards, the cardholder puts down a cash deposit that becomes the credit line for the account — meaning you spend from the money you've already put down, as you would a debit card that is connected to a bank account. Alternatively, you could ask a trusted friend or family member to co-sign for a new credit card. With either of these options, don’t forget about interest rates and other fees that come with a new credit card. However, be sure to use the credit card only to make yourself look good, not for “emergencies”. You should already be saving for your emergency fund. Only get a secured credit card or any other debt if you will keep it in good standing. No credit is better than bad credit, so proceed cautiously!
Explore Personal Loan Options
Obtaining a small personal loan you know you can repay is another viable way to rebuild credit. Don't take out a large loan amount, and be certain you have the funds to repay a smaller loan before even filling out the application. Getting a personal loan is a strategic move — an on-time payoff, even for a seemingly insignificant amount, will strengthen the borrower's credit and look good on a credit report.
Nancy V. Jacob has been helping Cincinnati-area clients find debt relief since 1989. She provides exceptional bankruptcy advice and legal counsel no matter where you are in the process. Call (513) 921-1400, visit her online, or contact her on Facebook to set up a free initial consultation.