How Long Bankruptcy Remains on Your Credit Report

ASK LEON 

Bankruptcy expert Leon Bayer answers real-life questions.

Dear Leon,

We declared bankruptcy in Kentucky in February 2005 and our debts were discharged that summer, prior to the new bankruptcy laws of October 2005. Will the bankruptcy still remain on our credit report for ten years?  

Regards,

Bruce

Dear Bruce,

Credit reporting information is not covered under bankruptcy law, so  it makes no difference that your case was filed before the bankruptcy laws changed in 2005.  How long information remains on your  credit report is governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA allows credit bureaus (also called credit reporting agencies) to list bankruptcies on your credit report for ten years. (To learn how long other types of negative information can remain on your credit report, see Nolo’s Credit Repair area.)

The various bureaus will report a person’s bankruptcy for the maximum ten years,  because their customers want it that way. The “customers” of a credit bureau are financial institutions, not consumers. Credit bureaus sell credit reports to financial institutions, who pay them a fee for the information.  A credit report is the product that a credit bureaus sells to subscribers, (just like a newspaper sells papers), and that is how each bureau makes money.

Again, think about a newspaper. If a certain newspaper has a reputation for printing unreliable information, it won’t stay in business very long. Likewise, if a credit bureau relaxed it’s reporting standards, financial institutions would not trust the information in those reports, and would start getting the information elsewhere.

- Leon

Guest blogger Leon Bayer practices bankruptcy law in Los Angeles, California.  He is a partner at Bayer, Wishman & Leotta.  

The opinions and advice in this blog post are from Mr. Bayer alone, and should not be attributed to Nolo.  By answering a question on this blog, Mr. Bayer does not become your lawyer.