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Today I got the following email from a prior client: “Hello. I am writing to investigate what I need to do to expunge a bankruptcy from my record. You did ours for us in 2001 (chapter 7) and I would like to remove it…” the questions seems to be coming up a lot lately, especially among prior clients of mine and when I stop to think about it, it makes sense.

Bankruptcy filings are now at or exceeding the number of filings before the new bankruptcy laws went into effect back in October of 2005.  That’s a lot of filings over the past 4 years and people are starting to wonder how much longer their bankruptcy filing is going to remain “on their record”. 

The question “how can I get it removed from my record or expunged from my record seems to be the a reoccurring inquiry.  I assume most clients are referring to their credit reports, but every now and then I get the big “expunged” reference and it always throws me for a spin.

The analysis should start with the definition of the word “expunge.”  Black’s Law Dictionary defines “expungement of record” as the “Process by which record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed after the expiration of time.”  The credit industry, more specifically the debt buying and collection industries, seem to me to be responsible for the falsely conceptualization of the notion that filing for bankruptcy relief is somehow criminal behavior or creates an inference of criminal behavior. 

And rightly so, as debt discharged in bankruptcy loses its value compared to debt not discharged in bankruptcy.  Truth be told, filing for bankruptcy relief is a legal right found in our law books, more specifically Title 11 of the United States Code.  Filing for bankruptcy IS NOT a CRIME or a violation of some criminal law resulting in criminal prosecution! 

Therefore, as filing for bankruptcy is not a crime, it cannot be “expunged” from your record.  The fact you filed for bankruptcy however can be reported on your credit report for 10 years. 

Though there is no legal way to remove the reporting on your credit report, I have had clients who have had success in removing the reporting from their credit file all together simply by disputing over and over the reporting with the credit reporting agencies. 


Written by Shawn Doan– Mr. Doan is one of the top California Bankruptcy Attorneys and  has successfully litigated hundreds of claims against credit card companies that willfully violate the bankruptcy code and other state and federal laws designed to protect consumers. Shawn’s present and past professional affiliations include being a member of the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, American Bar Institute, Bar Association of North County, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, National Bankruptcy Institute, National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, American Bankruptcy Institute, North County Attorney Referral Service, and San Diego County Attorney Referral Service.


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