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Should I Wait For Stuff to Fall Off My Credit Report or File Bankruptcy? – Dawn

“Dear Steve,

I finished grad school in December of 2009 with heavy debt, student loans and credit cards. I have been un/underemployed ever since, and unable to pay my bills. My student loans are currently in unemployment deferment (I’m unemployed again), and in good standing, as is one of my credit accounts (my overdraft, which they take out of my account every month).

I haven’t spoken to any of the creditors I defaulted on in a year and a half; I managed to ditch them, and they’ve stopped calling my family. All of those accounts were sent to third party collectors … it was these people that sent me into hiding from them. I owe approximately $20,000 in credit card debt, that’s four accounts. The highest is about $8,000, the lowest $2,000.

Originally I wanted to try to pay everything off – in the scheme of things, $20,000 really isn’t that much, I just needed time, but my employment situation hasn’t improved, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to for a while. I decided to declare bankruptcy, but have to do it pro se because I cannot afford the attorney ($1,300, not including the $360 filing fee). Truthfully, I cannot afford the filing fee right now, either, but I can make payments. I’m single, and there is no parental/familial support.

I pulled my credit reports and was surprised to see there’s not a single collection agency listed on them. Of course, my original creditors charged off the accounts, and then closed them. According to Experian they are all scheduled to come off my record in 2016 and 2017. Equifax doesn’t give this information. Due to a computer glitch I was unable to get TransUnion’s report, and they’re not responding to my emails.

Before school my credit was sterling. Generally, (except when in school, apparently), I live within my means, whatever those happen to be. While I’d like my report to be clean and shiny again, I know it will take time, and I’m okay with that.

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At this point, is it even worth it to declare bankruptcy? since it looks like this stuff will be coming off my record in a reasonable amount of time, and bankruptcy would be there for 10 years(?).

Will it naturally fall off my record?

Why aren’t collection agencies showing up on my credit report?

Will they show up later?

I haven’t heard from a creditor in ages. Would contacting them and giving them my current (disposable cell) number just stir up trouble? I don’t even know why I want to do that.

Will they all just eventually go away?

Thank you for any advice/information you can give me.


Dear Dawn,

Let’s start with the issue about waiting for stuff to fall off your credit report. Just because an item is not on your credit report does not make it either not exist or not collectable. What really controls if an item may be pursued in the courts by your creditors is the statute of limitations for the state you reside in.

There is no requirement for any creditor to report any debt. A credit report is not a comprehensive listing of liabilities but just a listing of reported items. And to muddy the water even more, not all creditors report accounts to all credit bureaus.

Even after the expiration of the statute of limitations a creditor can pursue to till you die, just not sue you. So closing the door on old debt with bankruptcy does have some advantages. Most specifically, you don’t need to look over your shoulder anymore and wonder if they will reappear at some point in the future.

I also think you need to be a bit more in the know before making assumptions about bankruptcy.

Let’s start with the basics.

I’d suggest you first read How to Get Out of Debt. The Honest and Unvarnished Truth and The Truth About The Success Rates, Failure Rates and Completion Rates of Credit Counseling, Debt Settlement, and Bankruptcy. They will give you a great overview of what we need to deal with to get you moving in the right direction.

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Then use the free How to Get Out of Debt Calculator to review your options.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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