Missed payments, defaults, settled accounts, CCJs, HCJs, administration orders, bankruptcy orders DROs, student loans IVAs, mortgage debts.
From the moment you take out credit in some form, and that includes getting your first mobile phone in your name and paying for it yourself, you have a credit file. When you apply for a loan, a credit card, a mortgage, or buy items on credit, the lender or creditor will look up your credit file which shows how you have managed repayments. If you maintain regular payments and manage your money efficiently, your good credit rating will remain on your file for as long as 10 years.
The other side of the coin is, of course, if you default on any credit payments, that also goes on your credit file and gives you a bad credit record.
What information does my credit file hold?
As well as your basic details – name, including any previous names, i.e. married name, and date of birth – it also lists:
- How much you owe and to whom.
- Details of any part, late or missed payments.
- Any defaulted accounts or default notices.
- Any County Court judgements (CCJs) or High Court Justice (HCJs), money judgements, or decrees against you.
- Any debts secured against a property in your name, as well as details of home repossessions.
- Details of any insolvency or bankruptcy proceedings, including individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), debt relief orders (DROs), administration orders, mortgage arrears or debt management plans (DMPs).
What your credit file doesn’t include is:
- The level of your income.
- Any money you have in your current or savings bank accounts.
- Details of any student loans (after 1998).
- Any parking fines, driving fines or council tax arrears.
- Your medical history or any criminal record, unless it is a magistrate’s court fine if you haven’t paid it.
A common misconception is that your credit file is linked to your address; it isn’t. Your credit file is about your use of credit and your financial history; it is not connected to your address. The same applies if you move to a repossessed house. The repossession is not reflected on your credit history, only that of the person who lived there before you.
However, if any credit you’ve taken out is in joint names with another person, such as a mortgage, your credit file will show that there is a link or association with that person. This means that their poor credit history could impact your creditworthiness, and creditors will take this into consideration. If you are no longer associated with that person, you can apply to be ‘disassociated’ with them but this is only likely to happen if the debt has been paid in full and you can prove you no longer live with that person.
How long does my information stay on my credit file?
How long information or missed payments, defaults or CCJs stays on your credit file depends on what the default is and who holds your credit file. However, generally, the following will stay on your credit file for six years from the date they were recorded:
- Any defaults on your accounts, such as unpaid overdrafts.
- Any part settlements, i.e. where a creditor has agreed to accept a lump sum payment and write off the remaining debt.
- Student loans.
- Any DROs, IVAs or protected trust deeds being approved.
- Any debts you have paid off in full.
- If you make a credit enquiry, for example, apply for a loan that you don’t take up, this will remain on your credit file.
That said, with an IVA you may find that if your creditor agreement is extended for a further year, it will be seven years before it is removed from your credit file. Bankruptcies can last up to 10 years on your credit file and if your bankruptcy restrictions are extended, usually if you have been dishonest or negligent, they will remain on your credit file for as long as 15 years.
Your credit history directly impacts a substantial part of your daily life, and it’s important to ensure you maintain a good credit record.