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Tackling your debts

How long does a CCJ last on your credit file?

Posted 09 September 2016

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Find out how a County Court Judgement (CCJ) could affect your credit record.

Being unable to afford your debt repayments can be a real worry. And if you keep missing payments, you might be at risk of getting a County Court Judgement (CCJ). A CCJ means a creditor has taken court action against you and if you don’t pay what you owe in full, a record of the CCJ will appear on your credit file for six years.

If you’ve got a CCJ recently, you’re certainly not alone. According to recent research carried out for us*, over 3.5 million UK adults say they’ve had either a CCJ or the Scottish equivalent, a Court Decree, in the last five years. Let’s take a look at why this happens and what you can do about it.

 

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Getting a CCJ

A creditor can only get a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you if you’ve already missed several payments and had a default. So a CCJ would never be the first you’d hear about a debt problem.

In Scotland, it’s a similar process. Your creditors have to apply through a sheriff court to get a Court Decree against you. Like with a CCJ, they wouldn’t do this if you just missed one debt repayment – you’d have to be struggling with your debt for a while.

There’s no minimum debt you need for a creditor to apply for a CCJ, although creditors might be less likely to take court action if you only owe a small amount. In fact, in our research, one in 10 of those who had had a recent CCJ or Court Decree say their debt is just £250 or less.

How it can affect you

If you don’t pay what you owe in full within a month of receiving the County Court Judgement (CCJ), it will go onto your credit history for six years. This means that if you apply for credit at any point within the next six years, the lender will see the CCJ on your file when they credit check you.

Some lenders are more likely to reject you for credit if they see problems like CCJs on your credit history. And if they do agree to lend to you, it could be at a higher rate of interest.

Even if you’re not planning to take out credit any time soon, you can still have a credit check when you apply for some other services. If you’re signing up for a tenancy agreement or mobile phone contract, for example, you might find this harder with a CCJ on your credit file.

A CCJ can also mean that the creditor is free to take further action to get back what they owe. This means they can apply for an attachment of earnings or an attachment of benefits, where money from your wages or benefits goes directly to the creditor.

What you can do

You can avoid any more problems if you get a County Court Judgement (CCJ) by making sure you take action as soon as possible. If you can afford to pay what you owe in full, this should be your first move. This will mean the CCJ is paid off and it won’t affect your credit history.

But if you can’t afford to do this, you can pay it off in instalments. If this takes longer than one month, the CCJ will appear on your credit history for six years. However, once you’ve paid it off, you can get your file updated to say the debt is now ‘satisfied’, even though the CCJ will still show.

If you don’t agree that you owe the money, you can dispute the CCJ. You can do this by filling in the appropriate CCJ forms and sending it back to the court.

You can get more advice about how to deal with a CCJ by getting in touch with a debt advisor. You can contact our debt experts using any of the options to the left. They can tell you about the different debt solutions available and whether any will be able to help you. Some formal debt solutions can stop your creditors taking any further legal action, so it’s worth looking into whether any of these will be suitable for your circumstances.

*3Gem Research carried out online interviews with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 people between 29th June and 6th July 2016.

 

**Figures extrapolated based on ONS UK adult population estimates for 2013 of 50.3m

by Emily Bancroft

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.