How long is your credit information really held for

Posted by Tom Blandford in Credit Reports on 15 March 2018 - Tom is a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile

When applying for credit, the majority of lenders will search for your credit files with the Credit Reference Agencies to determine whether they will be willing to lend to you. Any information obtained from the agencies can then be used in the lender’s evaluation of your creditworthiness.

As such, it’s vital to ensure you are aware of how long information is reported by the agencies to ensure there are no nasty surprises when a lender processes your application.

Why is information held for as long as it is?

Under normal circumstances, closed accounts are automatically removed by the agencies after 6 years from the date of closure. This includes any negative information including any missed payments or defaults.

This means that any adverse information (late payments, arrears and arrangements to pay) in the payment histories of accounts that remain open can potentially be reported indefinitely.

All Credit Reference Agencies that operate in the UK act in accordance with the Data Protection Act, which ensures that no data is held for longer than it needs to be by any party. That is why information on open accounts is reported indefinitely, whereas information on closed accounts is only kept for six years.

How long are defaults recorded

Defaulted accounts are reported slightly differently; when an account defaults, the lender is no longer obliged to send updates to the agencies to show if you have been paying your debt, or even if the account is considered open or closed.

Any payments towards your debts may also be reflected on a separate account with a debt collection agency. Whilst this won’t prolong the amount of time the default is held on your report, any unpaid debt could be subsequently be subject to a County Court Judgement . Regardless of a subsequent CCJ, any defaulted accounts are removed after 6 years from the date of default, even if the balance for the original account has not been settled.

One difficulty with defaulted accounts regularly stems from when a CCJ is issued. Like defaulted accounts, CCJs are reported for 6 years from the date they are issued and can severely hinder the development of your credit score whilst it remains reported by the agencies.

Contrary to popular misconception, even if your debt becomes statute barred in this time, it may not be written off.

Court records

Other forms of court action may also appear on your file, namely bankruptcies and insolvencies. Bankruptcies (Sequestrations in Scotland) are typically discharged after a year but remain reported for 6 years from the date they are ordered. IVAs (protected trust deeds in Scotland) stay on your file for the same amount of time but require completion to be confirmed by the insolvency practitioner overseeing the IVA, which is typically achieved within 5 years (3 for protected trust deeds).

Ensuring that your files are clear of any such records is crucial to maximising your chances of being accepted for credit and staying on top of your finances in general. Knowledge of when negative information is due to be removed from your files can also give you a head start on building your credit rating as soon as soon as any detrimental information is removed.

Your checkmyfile credit report will show you exactly when any negative information was added to your file and how long is left before it is due to drop off.

Updated 15/03/2018

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