Different payment markers on your credit report

Posted by Sophie Regester in Credit Reports on 20 March 2017 - Sophie is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile.

Getting to know the information that appears on your credit report and the markers that represent it is the key to staying on top of your credit report and making sure everything is appearing as it should. By doing this, you'll be in a much better position when you next come to apply for any form of credit or finance.

Markers such as D, DM or DA may look similar, but they all mean entirely different things so it's important to make sure that the markers on your account are an accurate representation of your credit history. Keep reading to find out exactly what each marker means and how lenders are likely to view them.

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OK

When you view your credit report the best marker to see is OK. This marker means that the payments for the account in question have been paid and are up to date in line with your credit agreement. Lenders like to see this, because it shows you have got a good history of paying back money that you've borrowed.

S – Settled or Satisfied

If your account has been'Settled' or 'Satisfied', it will appear as the letter S on your credit report. This Means that an account has been closed satisfactorily and no further payments are due. Once an account is recorded in this status, it will continue to feature on your credit file for a 6 year period. After this time period has elapsed the account will automatically be removed within 30 days and will no longer be visible on your file to yourself or lenders.

While a marker showing an account as 'Settled' shows you have a good history of making repayments, if it is shown as 'Satisfied' it means that the full amount has been paid, but only after entering default. While lenders may view a default that has been settled more favourably than one that is still outstanding, the fact that the account entered default in the first place may be enough to deter some lenders.

1 – One Late Payment

A number 1 status confirms that a payment was made late, or you are up to one month behind. One late payment is viewed by most lenders as a relatively minor and common offence due to human nature, so it is unlikely to affect your ability to gain credit.

It’s worth bearing in mind that if a payment is due by a certain date and this date is not met, a late payment can be recorded whether this is made 3 weeks late, 5 days late or one minute late, it doesn't make a difference. Many lenders will not use the late payment marker if payment is made within a certain time frame, and they may have a little wriggle room if extenuating circumstances led to the lateness, but they are not obliged to grant you any favours in this regard. Late is, after all, late.

Arrears Monthly Markers

2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 follow on in a very straight forward pattern - the more consecutive monthly payments missed, the numbers increase. Any of these statuses count as ‘arrears’, the higher the number the more serious the arrears and the more negative the connotation for your credit file and score.

D – Default

D represents ‘Default’, which is the most serious case of arrears that can be recorded. A default is also a form of account closure, meaning that the all-important 6 year reporting period starts from the date of default. That being said in some cases, the account may only be marked as closed when the outstanding balance has been paid and this may depend on the lender or the credit reference agency they have reported to. Regardless of whether a default is recorded as open or closed, if a balance remains outstanding you can still be chased to repay this indefinitely.

DA

DA is used to show ‘Debt Assigned’, this is reported when an account has been sold to a debt collector and the status with the original lender indicates DA to show it has been passed on.

SF & US – Satisfied Fully and Unsatisfied

SF is used to indicate that an account in default has been paid in full but this does not remove the default status, which remains visible in the account history for the full 6 years from the date of default. Paying a default does not reset the six year reporting period. Conversely US indicates an account in default remains outstanding and has not been fully paid.

PS – Partial Settlement

PS is similar to SF but indicates that a ‘Partial Settlement’ has been agreed, i.e. debtor and lender agree to a lesser amount being paid to settle an account where the full balance is unlikely to be paid.

AR – Arrangement to Pay

AR doesn't really fit the trend previously talked about here, it has the same weighting as serious arrears but is the status used when the normal payments on a credit agreement cannot be met. An ‘Arrangement to Pay’ is on the face of things the responsible way to advise a lender that you cannot pay the usual amount specified in your credit agreement, but lenders still consider it to mean your account is in arrears, so it remains a negative marker.

For that reason it's important to think carefully before asking for an Arrangement to Pay as it harms your credit file more than one or two late payments would, and worse still many lenders will not warn you of this. An arrangement can also be recorded when you overpay, because again the payments are not being made in line with your original credit agreement.

Again you may not be warned of this and you may believe you are actually helping your credit file, rather than hurting it by making extra payments.

DM – Debt Management

DM represents Debt Management, debt management plans (DMP) are typically arranged by a third party company or charity who contact and set up regular payments with your creditors. Companies will not do this out of the kindness of their heart, and they'll take a cut of every payment you make. Debt charities, however, will be able to do this free of charge.

VT – Voluntary Termination

VT stands for voluntary termination and is used when an account that was due to run for a longer period is settled early, for example if you take out car finance to run for 3 years and return the car within one you may well see a VT status on the account. The record of a VT status has a neutral connotation and it is not regarded as a negative.

U – Unreported

U stands for ‘Unclassified’, it is often the status recorded when an account is newly opened and the lender does not have any other activity to report on the account. U markers are neutral, so are not regarded positively or negatively by lenders.

Q – Query

Q is for ‘Query’ and is used when an account is under review, usually due to a query between customer and lender regarding the account.

IN – Inactive

IN represents ‘Inactive’ meaning the account is open but is not currently being used. The time it takes for an account to become inactive may vary depending on which lender you are with. While it is a neutral marker, it is there to alert prospective lenders that the account hasn't been used for a sufficiently long period of time, attempting to spend large amounts using this account could be a sign of fraud.

NR – Not Reported

NR is ‘Not Reported’, which indicates that an update has not been provided between the lender and credit reference agency for that month. In the eyes of a prospective lender it means that they cannot tell whether a payment was made or missed, so this is a neutral marker.

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