People are often reluctant to file for bankruptcy because they are concerned about the impact it will have on their credit score. However, you are already taking a hit to your credit if you’ve fallen behind on your bills. Avoiding available debt relief options may only prolong the inevitable and result in further damage to your credit.

Make no mistake. A bankruptcy filing will hurt your credit score. However, once you’ve addressed your current debt situation, you can begin taking steps to rebuild your credit. Here are three tips for doing so. You may be surprised at how fast you can start improving your credit score.

1. Keep on eye on your credit report

This is good advice for anyone, not just people who have recently gone through the bankruptcy process. You can request a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. Review your credit report for any errors. If you spot a mistake, inform the credit reporting agency.

A credit report is also useful for monitoring any outstanding debts you may have. You can also track your credit score’s improvement over time.

2. Open a bank account

Opening a checking or savings account shows evidence of your financial stability. If you had trouble making payments on time in the past, you could set up automatic bill pay through your account. Also, opening up a bank account can provide you with a fresh start and help you establish good financial habits from the start.

3. Consider a secured credit card

Most credit cards are unsecured. In other words, you’re given a line of credit whether you have the resources to pay off your debt or not. This is how so many people suddenly find themselves facing financial trouble.

A secured credit card can be tied to your bank account, so you don’t find yourself charging more than you already have. This can help rein in any free-spending tendencies you may have. If you pay off your statements in full and on time, you will be surprised at how fast your credit score can improve.

There is life after bankruptcy

Don’t let fears about your credit rating get on the way of viable debt relief. Bankruptcy can help you get a fresh financial start and will help you boost your credit score as time goes on.