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Can a Written Off Debt be Reinstated? 2022

Written Off Debt Reinstated

For free and impartial money advice and guidance, visit MoneyHelper, to help you make the most of your money.

Can a written off debt be reinstated? If you have managed to avoid paying a debt that was written off, you might be worried if that debt can ever be reinstated and chased once again. We look at how debt gets written off in the first place before answering this important question. 

What is a written off debt?

A written off debt is usually a debt that has become too old to be collected. After a period of time, creditors who have not been actively recovering the debt are not allowed to chase you for the money anymore. This is the law. 

A written off debt might also be a debt that a creditor has agreed not to chase anymore because of your financial situation, rather than running out of time to collect the debt. However, it is rare for a creditor to agree to write off the debt for this reason alone. They’re more likely to suggest a payment plan or debt solution. 

Don’t worry, here’s what to do!

There are several debt solutions in the UK that can be used to improve your finances. Choosing the right way to tackle your debt could save you time and money, but the wrong one could cause even more harm

It’s always best to find out about all your options from a professional before you take action.

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Can a written off debt be collected?

It is illegal for a creditor to try and collect a debt that has become too old to be enforced.  If your creditor does contact you and ask for a payment, you should write back and tell them that the debt is no longer legally enforceable. 

We have created a free downloadable letter template for if you ever need to send one of these letters. 

However, if a debt was written off by the lender due to your financial situation – rather than because it was too old to be collected – the lender may be allowed to change its mind and chase you for payment again. 

How many years after is a debt written off?

Your creditor should take action to recover the debt within six years, or five years if you live in Scotland. This is known as the limitation period. A longer limitation period applies for mortgage debts. If during the limitation period certain conditions are met, the debt becomes ‘statute barred’, which means it can no longer be enforced and you do not need to pay. 


For a debt to become statute barred, you must not have:

  1. Made any payments towards the debt. In the case of joint debt, both parties must not have made a payment during the limitation period.
  2. Acknowledged the debt as yours in writing. 
  3. Been taken to court by the creditor to pay the debt. If you have been issued with a CCJ to pay the debt, the limitation period no longer applies.

Statute barred debts were introduced into law as a way to prevent the courts from becoming backlogged with older debt cases, which would stretch resources. 

Can a debt collector restart the clock on my old debt?

A debt collector cannot restart the clock on the period of time a creditor has to collect your debt – i.e. the limitation period – but actions you take in response to debt collectors may automatically restart the clock. The limitation period restarts if you make a payment towards the debt, or if you or anybody representing you acknowledges that you owe the debt in writing. 

For example, you might receive a letter from a debt collector asking you to pay a debt that is one year old. If you make a partial payment towards the debt after receiving the letter, the limitation period restarts and it will take a further six years (five years in Scotland) for the debt to potentially become statute barred.

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What happens when a debt is written off?

When a debt is written off you are not legally responsible to pay the debt and should not be asked to pay by your creditors. However, a written off debt doesn’t simply disappear from records. It will remain on your credit file for six years, showing that the debt went unpaid or partially unpaid. 

An unpaid debt on your credit file will harm your credit score and make it more difficult to be approved for credit in the future. 

Can a written off debt be reinstated?

A debt that has been written off because it became statute barred cannot be reinstated. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) prevents creditors from contacting you to make a payment on a statute barred debt. If they persistently ask you to pay a written off debt, you can complain about the company. 

Should I pay a debt that has been written off?

You are not legally obliged to pay a debt that has been written off because it become too old to be enforced. However, some people may choose to pay off the debt if they have the means to do so and do not want the debt affecting future credit records. 

Paying off the debt will improve your credit score and could help get approved for future credit or credit at better rates, including any future mortgage applications. You may want to consider this before deciding not to pay. 

Can a debt collector reopen a closed account?

A debt collector cannot reopen a closed account when the debt has become too old to be collected. But they can reopen a closed account if it was closed simply because they were not able to receive a payment when requested, as long as it is within the limitation period. 

More information on writing off your debts

It’s normal to want your debts written off when you have money problems. You can uncover more information about writing off different types of debts in the UK at MoneyNerd. Or learn about the various debt solutions which could make repaying your debts affordable for you. We have lots more info to share! 

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