How long does a CCJ stay on your credit file?
You’re maybe aware of ‘CCJs’, or, to give them their full name – County Court Judgements. A CCJ can seriously impact your credit rating – and therefore, a lot of people want to know how long a CCJ will stay on your credit file.
We’ll take a look at what exactly a CCJ is and how long one will remain attached to your credit history – as well as busting a couple of myths along the way…
What is a CCJ?
A county court judgement is a court order that can be registered against you should you fail to repay an amount of money that you owe.
The process that a creditor goes through to apply for a CCJ involves you receiving a letter called a ‘County Court Judgement Claim Form’. While you might be shocked or worried to receive this, it’s probably not going to be a surprise – creditors will have gone through a lengthy process of trying to contact you prior to taking court action.
There will be details of how you should act on the claim form, however, it’s worth remembering that if you can settle the debt – usually within 30 days – you could avoid having the CCJ against your name for too long.
Whether you can pay or not, now would be a good time to seek some debt advice from a debt advisor. There are options you can pursue if you don’t agree with the claim or need to prepare evidence to defend against the claim.
How long does a CCJ stay on your credit file?
If you can’t or don’t repay the full amount of the claim within the preceding month, a CCJ will stay on your credit file for 6 years.
That 6 years applies whether or not you have ‘satisfied’ the CCJ – i.e. whether or not you’ve paid the amount off. A CCJ reflects poorly on your ability to repay a debt – and even a satisfied CCJ is often still viewed negatively by lenders.
Some myths about CCJs
It’s not uncommon for people to give you their own version of how CCJs work – but be warned, CCJs will be issued regardless of any myths or misconceptions about them. We’ll have a look at some of the most common things you might hear about how CCJs work.
“A CCJ isn’t against you, it’s against your address”
There are instances where you might be unaware that a CCJ has been issued against you. This can happen when a lender does not have your most up to date contact details – including your address.
In instances like these, you might be under the impression a CCJ isn’t registered against you – but will in fact impact the address at which the creditor thought you would be found. This isn’t the case – and is the reason that lenders need a detailed address history from you when you apply for loans, mortgages, credit cards and other payment agreements.
If you’ve moved away from a property and know there are debts that haven’t caught up with you yet, you could be in the process of receiving a CCJ. Don’t leave your credit rating to chance, let all your creditors know your present address.
“Don’t pay off the CCJ debt and it’ll eventually go away”
A CCJ will be removed from your credit file at the end of 6 years – whether or not it’s paid off. With that in mind, it might sound like a good idea to just continue to avoid paying toward the debt – but that’s a very risky approach.
Depending on what the debt is for, your creditors may be able to chase the debt in other ways – including sending bailiffs or as an ‘attachment of earnings’ that takes money from your pay or benefits before they reach you. They may even register a claim against a property you own.
What’s more, having an unsatisfied CCJ on your credit file means you’re going to find it difficult to get any credit in the future, even mobile phone contracts and bank accounts.
“A CCJ will be changed to ‘satisfied’ when you’ve paid it off”
While this should happen in theory – it often doesn’t. When you’ve made your final repayment, you should contact the lender and the court to make sure it’s marked as being ‘satisfied’.
“If you’ve moving abroad a CCJ doesn’t matter”
CCJ’s can be enforced throughout the European Union and with a number of other countries around the world. It’s highly likely that the debt will be pursued, no matter where in the world you live.
How to avoid CCJs
Quite simply, if you want to avoid a CCJ you should pay the debt off – but we realise this isn’t always possible.
Therefore, talking to your creditor is always the best course of action. A lender won’t be applying for a CCJ as a way of punishing you – it’s simply a last resort when it comes to getting paid the money they owe.
If you talk to a company you owe money to they’re almost certainly going to be able to come to an agreement about a payment plan you can contribute toward to remove your debt. You should try to evidence any claim you make about affordability of payments by evidencing your income and outgoings – this lets a lender know that you’re taking the debt seriously and paying as much (but not more) than you can. Communicating and showing good will toward the debt is the best way to avoid a CCJ.
What happens if you have a CCJ?
If you’ve found yourself with a CCJ it’s not the end of the world financially – hundreds are issued every day – and they don’t indicate anything about your financial or social background, there are millionaires and large businesses that have CCJs.
When you have a CCJ it is absolutely vital that you pay the amount that’s been set each month. If you don’t, you might find that bailiffs attend your property to arrange payment of the debt – and don’t forget, even if they do, the CCJ will stick around for the rest of the 6 years, so it makes sense to make payments without increasing your financial stress levels.
If you need more information about the options available to you in dealing with your debt, you can always speak confidentially with one of our friendly advisors on 0808 2085 198.