Q: I filed for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy back in 1997. It was paid in full and discharged. Now that it is 2009, will the bankruptcy continue to appear on my credit report? If so, how do I get it removed?

A: The bankruptcy should only stay on your credit history for 7 to 10 years, depending on what kind of bankruptcy you filed. But, it wouldn’t matter as much to your credit history or credit score in the 10th year as the first. But it’s been 12 years since your bankruptcy, so it should have fallen off of your credit history and not count as a negative for your credit score.

Find out how your credit history looks by pulling a copy at AnnualCreditReport.com. While you’re on the site (which is the only website that is a joint venture of the three major credit reporting bureaus) pay the $8 for a copy of an Equifax score (which is closest to the FICO score). If you’ve had a good credit history since the bankruptcy have worked on rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy by always paying your bills on time, I’m pretty sure you’ll have a very good credit history or credit score.

If you do, by chance, see the bankruptcy still listed, it may not be affecting your credit score but may now only be part of your credit history. But you can dispute the information, and provide proof that the bankruptcy was discharged more than 10 years ago and that any debts or obligations that arose out of the bankruptcy have been paid off and paid in full well over ten years ago.

While the bankruptcy might have been over ten years ago, you might have been paying off debts or obligations under the bankruptcy plan which might result in the bankruptcy still showing up. If you were required to pay debts for three years following the bankruptcy, you might still be within the time period in which the credit bureaus might report the amount paid and the origin of the debt. In your case, the origin of the debt was the bankruptcy and the last payment might have been several years later.

When you take out a mortgage loan for 30 years, the debt is shown on your credit for those thirty years and for a certain time period after you have paid off the original debt. So that 30-year loan could be on your credit history for almost 40 years of your life. The 30 years that you had the loan and then the reporting period after you paid off the loan.

Read more about bankruptcy here and read the eBook on fixing your credit score