Debt can often overwhelm people to the point where they begin to lose track of essential information they need to have about their loans.
If you’re in a similar situation and don’t know who you owe money to, I’ve written this guide to help you get back on track as soon as possible.
Let’s get right into it.
Check Your Debts in the UK
Your credit file contains information about your borrowing history, your loans, and a lot of your personal details.
Besides your borrowing history and loan details, it also contains information on your account, insurance, credit cards, and maybe even mobile phone bills.
If you’re not sure who you need to pay back, checking your credit file is the first thing you should do.
You’ll find your name, your address, your contact details, details of your loans, records of late payments on your loans, and information on who you owe money to all on your credit file.
Your credit file has information from the three big credit reference agencies, namely, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
Your creditor may contact these credit reference agencies and report information on your loans to them.
Letters & Emails From Creditors
Check all correspondence you’ve had with your creditors.
Even if you can’t remember who you need to pay back, looking at letters and emails from your creditors may help jog your memory.
If you’ve shifted to a new house recently, it might be helpful to contact your old landlord or the new owner at your previous address to know if any letters meant for you have been sent there.
Contact Your Creditors
The importance of this step simply can’t be overstated.
You have to make every possible attempt to contact your creditors and inform them of your situation.
You can get your creditor’s information from the court, any correspondence between you, or perhaps even your credit file.
Stay in regular contact with your creditors so they don’t think you’re being shady or neglecting your debts on purpose.
If they do start to get that impression, they’ll be a lot less cooperative and it’ll cause problems for you down the road.
My Creditors Sold Off the Debt (What Does This Mean For You?)
If you’re informed that your creditor has sold your debt, it means that your creditor has transferred the ownership of your loan to a third party, which is usually a collection agency, in exchange for a sum of money worth a certain percentage of the actual loan.
Who Are Debt Collectors & Collection Agencies
Debt collectors and collection agencies are individuals and corporations that your creditor can hire and employ to chase you and get you to repay your debt.
Debt collectors either take money as a fee from your creditor or share in the debt repayment with your creditor, once you make repayments.
Despite their confrontational attitude, they are not allowed to threaten to take you to court as a way to coerce you into paying them. If they do so, it’s considered harassment and you can take them to court.
Also, there are many ways you can avoid debt collectors, such as court orders and other informal practices.
Bank Account Statements
Another useful way to find out who you owe money to is to check your bank account statements.
If you’re familiar with online banking or if you have copies of old bank statements, looking through them may help you identify your creditor.
If you’re still having problems, you should ask your bank for assistance.
The only issue with checking your account statements is that banks usually only show recent account statements. If you need to take a look at copies of older bank statements, they may charge you a fee.
Debt Owed to Government Departments & Agencies
If you owe money to a government department, such as HMRC, council tax, or CSA, you’ll have to find the right agency and contact them.
Once you reach out, you’ll be able to get more information on the money you owe.
Best Ways to Pay Off Your Debts
In this section, I’ll be covering the best insolvency solutions and informal relief plans you have at your disposal to pay off your debts as quickly as possible.
Let’s get right into it.
Debt Management Plan
A Debt Management Plan, or DMP for short, is an informal debt relief arrangement that you agree upon with your creditor.
It usually entails a plan that allows you to pay your debt back in instalments over a specified period. You usually pay the money back in fixed monthly instalments.
A DMP is a quick and easy way to come to an agreement that makes it easier for you to pay back your outstanding debt.
Once that is done with, you can work on improving your credit report.
Debt Relief Order
A DRO is a court order that gives you a full year’s worth time to get back on your feet.
The way it works is simple.
Once a DRO is passed in court, it allows the debtor a full year from the time of the decision onwards where they can’t be chased by creditors or a collection agency for their debts.
All in all, a DRO is a very good way to get some time to think about your payment plans, save some money, and generate new streams of income with the extra time you’re given.
Do be aware that it carries the risk of negatively impacting your credit report, though.
Individual Voluntary Order
An Individual Voluntary Order is an insolvency procedure meant to allow debtors to pay back as much of what they owe as they can over a period of five to six years.
The good news, if you’re facing a long stretch of unfortunate financial circumstances, is that if you’re still unable to pay some part of your debts after the IVA expires, your debts are written off.
However, an IVA has very difficult conditions for qualification. To get an IVA, you have to get the creditors who you owe 75% of your debts to agree to the conditions of the IVA.
Although an IVA does carry the potential to harm your credit report, it grants you a lot more freedom over your assets than some other insolvency procedures, such as bankruptcy.
Can’t I just wait for my creditors to contact me themselves?
I recommend this only as a last resort.
You should try to find your creditors through any previous correspondence, bank statements, or by contacting the court.
If you don’t, your interest will keep racking up without you having a clue of who to pay and what amount to pay. Never be unaware of your debts.
Also, if you don’t contact the creditors, they may assume that you’re not completely invested in paying the loan back and are trying to avoid them.
Is it safe to assume that I don’t have any debt if no one contacts me?
Your creditor may have lost your contact details, or some other technical fault may have disrupted a constant channel of communication between you and your creditor.
However, just because your creditor doesn’t contact you doesn’t mean you don’t have debt anymore.
The only exception is when it has been more than six years (or twelve, in the case of a mortgage loan) since your creditor last contacted you about your loan. If so, the limitation period on your loan has likely expired and you’re no longer required to pay it back.
How long before a debt is written off in the UK?
The limitation period for most debts, other than home mortgage loans, is six years from the last time the loan was acknowledged by you and your creditor or six years from the last time your creditor contacted you about the loan.
As for home mortgage loans, the limitation period is twelve years from the last time the loan was acknowledged by you and your creditor or twelve years from the last time your creditor contacted you about the loan.
Can I go to prison for debt?
In the UK, not being able to pay your debts is not a criminal offence and you won’t go to prison if you can’t pay your debts.
However, it’s very possible that you go to prison for knowingly committing fraud in matters related to your debts.
Always choose safe, legal, and trustworthy channels of support when you’re dealing with your debts.
Do I have to pay all my debt?
Yes, under normal circumstances, you do have to pay the amount you owe to whoever you owe it to.
However, if you can’t afford to pay, you can apply to have your debts written off through an insolvency solution such as bankruptcy, IVAs, or DROs. If you get your debts written off through them, you obviously don’t have to pay all of the original amounts back.
Find out who you owe money to and how much you owe through your credit report, bank account statements, or by contacting your original creditor.
Does my credit report show all my debts?
Your credit report shows all the information that the three major credit reporting agencies have about your debts.
However, these credit reporting agencies depend on your creditors to report information about your debts to them.
It’s not an official requirement for creditors to provide details about your debts to these agencies.
So if you have some debts that haven’t been reported to these agencies by your creditor, it’s possible that your credit report won’t show all your debts.
Can creditors take money from my wages?
Yes, it’s possible.
If you’re employed, your creditor may go to court and try to get an “attachment of earnings order”.
An attachment of earnings order allows your creditor to take a certain portion of your wage to contribute to your loans every time you get paid.
Should I pay off all debt at once?
If it’s a loan with a very high-interest rate that is likely to grow a lot very quickly, you’re better off paying it off all at once instead of making monthly payments and having the actual amount grow exponentially.
However, if it’s a loan with very little interest, you shouldn’t feel pressured to pay it back immediately.
A loan with very little interest won’t grow too much in total value even if you make monthly payments instead of paying it back all at once.
You can find more information on this on loan support forms.
Losing track of your creditors and not knowing how to contact them is a very frustrating experience. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could get yourself in trouble.
This guide was intended to help you work your way through such a situation if it were to befall you.
If you need any more information, feel free to reach out.