Every debtor should be aware of how a debt becomes statute-barred and what this entails for them.
Oftentimes, people are unaware of how a debt becoming unenforceable can affect their financial situation as well as their credit score.
Today, I’ll be discussing what exactly your credit score is and how it’s affected by statute-barred debt.
What is Credit Score?
All of your financial dealings such as any debts that you took on are recorded within your credit file (or credit report). Your credit report contains all information about your debts as well as how punctual you were in paying them back.
The more regularly and reliably you pay off your debts, the better your credit score will be. However, if you miss scheduled payments towards your debts, these will be recorded within your credit history and as a result, your credit score will suffer.
Your credit report is an important variable in lenders deciding whether or not to approve your loan. All lenders will look at your credit report to get an idea of how reliable you are when it comes to making scheduled payments towards your debt each month.
If you have a good credit score, you will have a higher chance of getting approved for loans such as mortgages, car loans, personal loans, etc.
However, if you have a poor credit score, you will have a much harder time finding a loan that you get approved for.
Even if you are able to get approved for a loan with a poor credit score, it’s highly likely that it will have a very high interest rate.
What is a Good Credit Score?
The amount that is considered good or bad depends a lot on the service you use in order to acquire your credit score.
For Experian, a credit score of 880 or above out of 999 is considered to be good.
For Equifax, a credit score of 420 or above out of 700 is considered to be good.
How do I Maintain a Good Credit Score?
If you’ve been in debt for a while and you’ve been struggling, there’s a chance that your credit score may have deteriorated a lot.
Opting for a debt solution such as an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or a Debt Relief Order (DRO) also has a severe negative impact on your credit score .
However, once you’ve entered into such a debt solution, you can start improving your credit score. You do this simply by making your scheduled payments on time. If you continue to do this time and time again, your credit score will improve drastically.
Thus, by the time you get out of your debt solution, not only will you have taken care of your debt but you will have also improved your credit score while doing it.
What is Statute-Barred Debt?
As we’ve discussed in the past, statute-barred debt refers to debt that isn’t enforceable anymore. This means that your creditor cannot use court action against you in order to recover their debt from you.
According to the Limitations Act 1980, in order for a debt to become statute-barred, a limitation period has to be fulfilled. This is typically six years for most types of unsecured debt but twelve years for some debts e.g. mortgage shortfalls.
The Limitations Act 1980 also determines the conditions through which the limitation period is determined. Your limitation period resets if you make a payment towards the debt or if you acknowledge the debt in writing. This would mean that it would be another six (or twelve) years from that date for the debt to become statute-barred.
You must also keep in mind that if your creditor has a County Court Judgment (CCJ) against you, then it doesn’t matter how many years go by. The limitation period becomes irrelevant and your debt will not become statute-barred.
A County Court Judgment (CCJ) prevents any limitation period to be placed on a debt. Not making your payments to your CCJ on time will also have far more severe consequences. Thus, if you have a CCJ against you, I highly suggest that you do your best to make your payments on time.
Once your debt is statute-barred, your creditor cannot pursue court action against you. However, they can still contact you in regards to your debt if they are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
If they are regulated by the FCA and you’re sure your debt is statute-barred, you can write them a letter and ask them to stop. If they persist, you can report them to the FCA.
However, if your creditor is not regulated by the FCA, then you won’t be able to get them to stop contacting you in regards to your statute-barred debt. While they won’t be able to pursue you in court for it, they will still have the right to contact you outside of court in regards to it. In this case, your best course of action would be to make arrangements to pay off your debt in order to get the creditor off your back.
You must also keep in mind that you have to treat some debts such as Council Tax debt and Tax Credit Overpayments as priority debts. This is because creditors such as HM Revenue and Customs don’t need to go to court in order to pull money from your wages and benefits in order to make up for your debts.
How does Statute-Barred Affect My Credit Score?
As I mentioned earlier, any missed payments and defaults on your account will show up on your credit report. These stay within your credit report for a total of six years and throughout that duration, they play a part in bringing your credit score down.
While a statute-barred debt is not mentioned on your credit report, any late payments, missed payments, defaults and payment breaks will most definitely be mentioned.
All of these stay in your credit report for a total of six years after the date they were registered.
For example, the limitation period on your debt would start once you receive a Default Notice. If you haven’t made a payment or acknowledged the debt for 6 years after receiving the default notice, then debt would become statute-barred.
At the exact same time, the mention of the Default Notice would be removed from your credit report as well.
When your debt is statute-barred, it can be confusing to think about what types of effects it will have on your financial situation. The confusion stems from the fact that you can’t be pursued in court for the debt now but the debt still technically exists.
In the end, you don’t have to worry a lot about your credit score when it comes to unenforceable debt. It’s something that you can definitely maintain and even improve once your debt becomes unenforceable.