How long does a bankruptcy stay on your credit report?
UPDATED: February 20, 2013
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A bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for up to 10 years, but many credit reporting agencies will remove it after 7. This is similar to the reporting period for "late pays" or delinquent accounts posted on your credit report, which is also 7 years. Having a bankruptcy on your credit record could make it difficult to rent housing or to obtain a credit card at a favorable interest rate. It might also make it very difficult to obtain a home mortgage loan or insurance.
Bankruptcy & Future Lenders
Going through bankruptcy also puts all future lenders on notice that you have had difficulty repaying your debts; creditors are more likely to either refuse to extend credit, or to make you pay (through higher interest rates, for example) for the additional risk they are taking in extending you credit.
However, even with a bankruptcy on your credit report, many lenders will still do business with you and extend you new credit lines. This is because the discharge obtained in bankruptcy leaves all future earnings free from the claims of past creditors. Essentially, they know that you now have more funds available to spend. Some creditors also see you as less of a risk because they know that you cannot file another bankruptcy for several years, reducing the risk of their accounts being lost in a bankruptcy discharge.
Credit Report Resources
Copies of a credit report can be obtained from one of the following sources: (1) Experian (formerly TRW), http://www.experian.com/; (2) Equifax, http://www.equifax.com/; (3) Trans Union, http://www.transunion.com/. The reports contain loans and credit card accounts, balances and payment history, bankruptcies and liens. In many cases, you'll be entitled to a free copy of your report as long as you don't ask for extra-cost "products" like a credit score or automatic update reports.