Coins, a calculator, a piggy bank, a compass, and a magnifying glass sitting on top of a financial report


John E. Pytte Nov. 30, 2020

In 2019, nearly 43,000 Georgia residents filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, seeking a fresh financial start for themselves and their families. Most of them didn’t make the decision to file easily. Even when debt is managed and cleared, bankruptcy leaves behind a poor credit score for years. However, not filing for bankruptcy and allowing your debts to go to collections will also negatively impact your credit rating.

By following some careful strategies, you can repair your credit score over time. And if poor money management and spending habits were what put you into the financial situation that led to your bankruptcy, you will have to avoid those traps.

At Pytte Law, I help clients in Savannah and Hinesville, Georgia, and surrounding towns and counties explore options for getting a fresh financial start. I use my experience as Georgia’s debt relief specialist to advise clients about the benefits and consequences of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy so they can make an informed decision about their financial future.

How Long Does a Bankruptcy Stay on Your Credit Report?

People with below-median incomes can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy which discharges your unsecured debt; however, the bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for 10 years.

If your income exceeds the median income in Georgia, you may be able to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy which restructures your debt. You then agree to a plan that allows you to pay off that debt in three to five years. If you adhere to the plan, the debt remains on your credit report for up to seven years.

Does that Mean I Can’t Do Anything Requiring Credit for 7 to 10 Years?

There are credit-reliant things you can do before the bankruptcy disappears from your credit report. Under the right circumstances, it’s possible for Chapter 13 filers to purchase a car within six months, or a home within one to two years. Chapter 7 filers may be able to buy a car once all of their debt is discharged, which is usually within four months of filing for bankruptcy. Many can also buy a home within two to four years after discharging their debt. These are important factors to discuss with a bankruptcy attorney.

What Steps Can I Take to Rebuild My Credit?

Here are three simple steps you can take to start rebuilding your credit while the bankruptcy appears on your record:

1. Request a copy of your credit report from the three national credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

If you filed Chapter 7, wait 90 to 120 days after your debt has been discharged. Make sure all debt that was to be discharged shows a zero balance. If you filed Chapter 13, request copies 90 to 120 days after you file for bankruptcy. Make sure any debt not included in the bankruptcy still shows that you’re making payments. Once you’ve completed the debt repayment plan, wait for another 90 to 120 days to make sure all debt you paid off under the plan shows zero balances.

2. Take Out a Credit-Builder Loan at a Credit Union

These are small loans, usually $1,000 or less, placed in a special savings account. You don’t get to use the amount borrowed until you have made the required number of scheduled payments equal to the borrowed amount. The loan earns interest in the savings account while you make payments on it.

3. Get a Credit Card

You can try to get a secured credit card from your credit union or bank. A secured credit card requires that you deposit an amount of money which then serves as the limit for the card. If you can qualify for an unsecured credit card, it will probably be one with a low spending limit and high-interest rates and penalties. Using either type of card can help restore your credit only if you use it wisely. Use it for small purchases that you could pay for out of your checking account and pay off the entire balance every month.

How Pytte Law Can Help

Filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a huge step, but often one that helps people get back on solid financial footing. It’s important that you seek the advice of an experienced bankruptcy attorney from the moment you start considering bankruptcy. While it provides a fresh start, it also comes with implications that ripple throughout a significant part of your life after bankruptcy. You need someone to guide you through the bankruptcy process, tackle the long-term effects, and help you avoid making poor financial choices.

At Pytte Law, I can help you, just as I’ve helped hundreds of Georgia clients in Savannah, Hinesville, Statesboro, Richmond Hill, Ludowici, and in Chatham, Liberty, Bryan, Effingham, and Long counties. I’m a problem solver who works tirelessly to help clients take control of their lives again, free of the crushing burden of debt.

Call Pytte Law today to schedule a free consultation to get started. You have nothing to lose but perhaps much to gain, so call now.