Article by Richard Catlin - 12th August 2021

How Your Credit Score Is Affected When A Default Drops Off

If you’ve got a default clinging on to your Credit Report, you’re probably looking forward to the day that it falls off. Providing it’s your only default – and you have no other negative information recorded on your Credit Report – you can normally expect the default’s long-awaited departure to be accompanied by a boost in Credit Score.

But what if you’ve got multiple defaults, and one drops off? In this case, would you still expect to see an increase in your Credit Score if there are still other defaults lingering on your Credit Report?

Defaults are reported to the Credit Reference Agencies for six years from date of default. This date is recorded on your Credit Report, so you can see the date that it is set to be removed – it’s worth making a note of these, although the CRAs do have an additional 28 day administration period to remove them.

Checking your Credit Report should be your first port of call to see the status of all defaults in your details. You can try checkmyfile free for 30 days then for £14.99 a month afterwards, which you can easily cancel at any time. You'll get full access to the UK's most detailed Credit Report, with the complete information from all three Credit Reference Agencies - including how long it’ll be before a default drops off.

How changing circumstances can lead to defaults

Defaults often occur during a specific period of your life - if you were made redundant or became ill and had difficulty repaying existing debt, for example. In these cases, there can be a fairly short time span between default dates, which means that six years later all adverse Credit History is removed from your Credit Report in the space of a few months.

While this situation can be a tedious waiting game over a number of months, those with a number of defaults spanning a much longer time period will often be left wondering if the removal of one default will have a positive impact.

Does your score go up when a default is removed?

Defaults are a serious form of negative marker, and if you only have one on your Credit Report, you are likely to see an improvement in your Credit Score once it has been removed, provided there are not more serious negative markers such as a CCJ present.

For many people it's unlikely you'll have just one default on your Credit Report, as a change in financial circumstances can lead to difficult times for your finances as a whole, rarely just one credit account. For that reason, it is rare to see an improvement in your score when one drops off if there are multiple others on your Credit Report. If you put yourself in the position of a lender, they are still able to see that you have been unable to meet the conditions of these credit agreements and are therefore still “high risk” in lending terms.

Put simply: removing one default from your Credit Report won’t make much of a difference if you have additional defaults remaining. Only when all negative markers on your Credit Report have been removed will you begin to see any real improvement in your Credit Score.

There are, however, ways in which you can improve the state of your Credit Report, even when your score is not set to improve for some time. This is important if you are still looking to borrow, but also for when your Credit Report is clear of adverse information.

How to improve your score when you have a default

There are still lenders willing to lend to those with defaults - different lenders have different criteria to mark your Credit Report against. While mainstream lenders might consider the presence of defaults as too risky, there are specialist (sub-prime) lenders set up to cater for this end of the market. Making payments on time to these lenders can be a strong start in getting your Credit Score back to where it should be.

Take control of your monthly outgoings

Managing your credit accounts is key to moving forward - rather than worrying about one default dropping off, the focus should be on ensuring that all of your current payments are made like clockwork each month. This will show lenders that you now have a more responsible attitude towards borrowing.

Use credit building-cards

When looking to build up your Credit History, a ‘credit-building’ credit card can help to show that you are now a more responsible bet when it comes to lending. Simply use it for small purchases and then ensure you pay the balance in full every month to prevent yourself from incurring high interest charges, and it will soon help to demonstrate that you are able to manage your finances.

Tidy up your finances

When ‘tidying up’ your Credit Report, there is always a risk that an unpaid default can potentially lead to further court action by the lender or debt collector. If you know that the default is staying on your Credit Report anyway for the six-year period, you may think “what’s the point of paying it?” It’s important to remember that while a default remains unpaid, the creditor may take court action to reclaim the funds. A County Court Judgment (CCJ) will have an even more severe impact on your Credit Score than a default.

Try to settle any outstanding debts

Not only do some mainstream lenders lend to those with settled or older debts (which is particularly important if you are looking for something like a mortgage), but settling the debt also prevents continued chasing from debt collectors, or the possibility of further action being taken against you. If you have an unpaid default you may have heard of it being ‘statute barred’ after six years, when the debt can no longer be pursued through the courts. Even if a debt is statute barred, it is still owed to the lender.

Does that mean my credit score will increase after six years?

Not necessarily. A lot of people will hold out for this statute barred date (six years from when acknowledgement of the debt was last made) in the hope that the debt will be written off, and they do not have to make any payments towards the debt.

Unfortunately, this poses the risk that the debt collector will contact the Court a few months before the six year period expires, to apply for a CCJ. If this is granted, you will then be given one calendar month to pay the debt before the CCJ is added to your Credit Report, creating another six years of credit-related pain. While this isn’t always the case, a CCJ will have an ongoing impact long after the original default has disappeared.

If you’re looking for any defaults or CCJs you may have, you can check your Multi Agency Credit Report with checkmyfile – it’s free for 30 days, then just £14.99 per month. You can cancel without any fuss online or by email or freephone. Not only will you see your Credit Reports from all three CRAs, but our professionally qualified Credit Analysts are on hand to help if you need any guidance.

Updated 12 August 2021 by Sam Griffin

The UK's First Provider Of Online Credit Reports

Launched 25 Years, 35 Million Credit Scores & 8 Million Credit Reports Ago

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