Losing track of how much debt you owe can be a precarious situation to find yourself in.
If you don’t know how much you owe, you could find yourself missing payments, deadlines, and getting into a lot of financial difficulties.
Don’t worry, I’ve written a guide to help you through such a scenario.
Let’s get right into it.
How Do I Check All My Debts?
The first thing you should do is to check your credit file.
Your credit file is a collection of your borrowing and repayment history,
In that regard, the information available on your credit file determines what your credit score is.
As for the specifics, your credit file carrier’s information on your loans and the public data associated with them.
Other than that, it contains information about your credit cards, your bank account, mobile phone bills, insurance, and utilities.
I also recommend that you contact your creditors and ask them what you owe them.
If you’re unsure of how long you have to pay back your loans, make sure you also confirm the deadlines for repayment for each of your debts.
How to Know Which Collectors or Agencies You Owe to?
The best way to figure out which collection agencies you need to make payments to is to go through all correspondence between you and your creditor.
Look at all the letters or that you’ve received from your creditors, and you’ll find some useful details, such as which creditor you need to repay certain loans to.
If you’re someone who has shifted to a new address recently, it might be useful to contact the landlord or new owner at your previous address to get information on whether any letters meant for you have been sent there, or if any attempt to contact you has been made.
Also, if you have a CCJ, you can find useful information on your credit file, such as the amount you have to repay for that specific loan.
Does Credit Karma Show All Debt?
No, it’s not always a certainty that Credit Karma will display all the loans you owe or all the creditors you owe them to.
Credit Karma, despite what it may seem, is not an official credit reporting agency.
That means they don’t collect information directly from creditors. Similarly, lenders don’t provide information to Credit Karma directly.
Credit Karma is dependent on Equifax and TransUnion, two of the three major credit reporting agencies for their findings and what they display.
If you think Credit Karma isn’t showing all your loans accurately, it’s usually because your credit reports are outdated, your creditor has not given updated information to the agencies, or if the major credit reporting agencies have been slow in updating your reports.
Are All My Debts on the Credit File?
Usually, most people find all their debts on their credit file.
However, there’s no official rule that creditors have to report your loan to one of the three major credit reporting agencies.
It’s possible that your lender hasn’t reported your loan to Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian.
What Does My Credit Report Show?
Your credit report carries a lot of your personal details.
It lists your name, your present address, the date of your birth, your electoral roll details, any financial links you may have, such as a relative with any loans, the last six years of your address history, and details of all the loans you need to repay.
Other than these details, it also contains information on any loan solutions you’ve opted for, such as bankruptcy, DROs, or IVAs, and even details on any late payments and defaults.
How Long Before Debt Is Written Off in the UK?
In general terms, the limitation period for most debts to be written off in the UK is six years after the last time the debt was acknowledged or the last time your creditor contacted you about the debt.
This period of six years applies to several types of loans, including credit card loans, personal loans, overdrafts, payday loans, and some others.
For home mortgage loans, however, the limitation period is usually a period of twelve years after the last time the loan was acknowledged or twelve years from the date your creditor last made contact with you in matters pertaining to the loan.
Best Ways to Pay Off Debts in the UK
If you’re looking for relief plans and insolvency solutions that may help you pay your loans off as soon as possible, I’ve listed the best ways to pay off your loans in the UK.
Debt Management Plans
A Debt Management Plan (DMP) is usually an informal arrangement between you and the party you owe money to.
A plan can look something like an agreement that allows you to pay the creditor or the collection agency back in instalments, over a specified payment.
Once it’s easier for you to manage your loans through a DMP, you can start working on improving your credit report.
Individual Voluntary Arrangements
An Individual Voluntary Arrangement is designed to allow you to make partial repayments towards your loans for a specific period.
It’s based on a set of rules that allow you to pay what you can afford over a period of five to six years.
Once the IVA expires, if you still haven’t paid the full loan amount, it’s written off.
An IVA allows you a lot more financial control over your assets than bankruptcy.
It can still affect your credit report to the point where lenders will be less likely to give you loans in the future.
Debt Relief Orders
A Debt Relief Order (DRO) is meant to give you more time and space to figure out how to pay off your loans.
To put it simply, it is a court order that gives you a full year where neither your creditor nor a collection agency can ask you to repay them or threaten you with court action.
A DRO is a great way to buy some time for yourself and get back on your feet.
It does, however, carry the possibility of doing significant damage to your credit report.
Bankruptcy is a legal procedure that, once successful, allows all your loans to be written off.
Once you declare yourself bankrupt, any assets you own are taken from your possession and used to contribute to the repayment of your loans.
You do end up losing a significant amount of financial freedom in the process, such as losing your assets and incurring damage to your credit report, but if you’re stuck with debt and don’t see a way out, bankruptcy may be the way to go.
Can collectors force me to pay?
Debt collectors aren’t allowed to force you to pay your loans in any capacity.
As a matter of fact, there are a few other things they’re not allowed to do under UK law.
They’re not allowed to threaten you with court action if you aren’t making payments on your loan. If they do so, it’s technically considered harassment and you can invoke court action against them.
Can I get free debt help?
There are plenty of individuals and organizations that allow you to get free debt help and advice on a variety of topics related to personal loans, credit card loans, payday loans, mortgages, and other loans.
Try searching online for free services around you and pick a few that you think will best fit your needs.
Can I go to prison for debt?
In the UK, you can’t be jailed if you can’t make repayments on your loans.
You won’t be jailed for not being able to come up with the money to pay your creditor back. However, it’s very possible that you’ll be jailed if it can be proven in court that you’ve committed fraud in matters pertaining to your loans.
Don’t commit fraud, always opt for legal and safe channels.
Can I get bankrupt due to loans?
It’s very possible to go bankrupt because of your loans.
Bankruptcy is far more common than you think. If you have no money coming in and no assets to get you by, bankruptcy may be one of the few viable options you have at your disposal.
Once you go bankrupt, all your debt is cleared and waived off. You get a chance to start over, albeit with some financial restrictions and possibly a bad credit report.
What happens if I ignore my loans?
It’s a very bad idea to keep ignoring your loans.
For one, your total amount will keep racking up and growing larger because of interest. When you’re eventually forced to pay via court action or some other procedure, you’ll find yourself in hot water.
Secondly, ignoring your loans will harm your credit report drastically, so lenders won’t be willing to give you loans in the future.
Even the loans you do manage to borrow will come with higher interest than usual.
Wrapping it Up
Not knowing how much you owe and who you owe to can be a very sensitive situation for many.
If you follow all the practices and steps I’ve listed in this guide, there’s a healthy chance you’ll eventually find out how much you owe.
If you need any advice or help, feel free to reach out.