Q & A

November 30, 2008|By ANDREW LECKEY

Did the changes in the bankruptcy laws change how long bankruptcy stays on your record? How long a period does it appear on your credit report?

P.P., via the Internet

The time frames for reporting bankruptcies on your credit record have been in place for some time. Bankruptcy law changes did not affect them.

Chapter 7 bankruptcies stay on your report for 10 years, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharges stay on your record for seven years.

"Discharges mean you've paid your debts in your repayment plan and don't need court protection any more," said Catherine Williams, vice president of financial literacy for Money Management International, a nonprofit counseling service in Houston.

The three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies have set up a central Web site, a toll-free phone number and a mailing address through which you can order your free annual report. To order, go to www.annualcreditreport.com, call 877-322-8228 or complete the annual credit report request form on the site and mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, Box 105281, Atlanta 30348-5281.

E-mail Andrew Leckey at yourmoney@tribune.com.

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