How do I get a free credit report?
Short answer: go to www.annualcreditreport.com and request a free credit report.
One of the most important things you need to do when preparing for a bankruptcy is to identify all your creditors. You are required to list all of your debts and creditors on the bankruptcy petition. I’ve had a number of clients ask me ‘how do I identify all of my creditors?’
The best place to start is with a credit report. Credit reports are not perfect and they don’t list all of your debts but for most people the credit report will include most of your debts. There, however, are some items that are usually not reported on your credit report. Pay day loan companies, for example, generally do not go to the effort to report these loans to the credit bureaus. Small businesses also rarely report debts. That is why I recommend to my clients that they keep a stack of all the bills and legal documents they have received.
Is it your bankruptcy attorney’s job to identify all your debts? People ask me this all the time and the answer is ‘no’. Not only is not his job, it’s also impossible for your attorney to identify all your debts. Your bankruptcy attorney can pull a credit report for you but, as I mentioned before, not all debts will be listed on your credit report. The person who knows your debts best, is you.
I always pull a credit report for my clients for a couple of reasons. First, I want to be sure I can identify as many debts as possible. Second, people often don’t keep track of lawsuits or judgments filed against them. Third, and most importantly, I can import all the data from the credit report into the software I use to create the bankruptcy petition which saves me huge amounts of time. As a side note, years ago, when I was a mere legal clerk, I used to manually enter in the data from credit reports into the computer. It was horrible. My eyes and my fingers hated me for it.
Although I pull credit reports for my clients, I encourage them to get and print out a copy of their credit report for our initial consultation. It helps both me and my clients figure out what debts they have.
Once a year you can order your free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com. It’s a good idea, whether you are considering bankruptcy or not, to review your credit report to make sure there are no errors.