How to clean up your credit file after an IVA

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This page contains information about debt solutions available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Debt advice in Scotland involves similar but different solutions. Before considering an IVA as a debt solution, please make sure you fully understand the risks involved. Please visit our website for more information.

Post IVA credit file clean up

Post IVA credit file clean up

It’s a happy day when your individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) finally ends, you’re well and truly free and clear and your money is your own again.

You can also take satisfaction from the fact that you have done your best by your creditors. After all they were happy to accept the terms of the IVA and to complete the IVA you’ll have complied with the terms that were set out.

First steps

The first thing you’ll receive from StepChangeVA is your IVA Completion Certificate. The certificate will be signed by your Supervisor and is proof that your IVA is now done and dusted – Hooray!

The Insolvency Service will mark your IVA as completed and update their records accordingly; once this is done you can start the job of repairing your credit file.

How to get your credit rating back into shape

We’ve blogged a before about credit ratings and how they work. This advice is strictly for those coming out of an IVA, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a lump sum IVA or five or six year term IVA.

There are three credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the UK: Callcredit, Equifax and Experian. You’ll need to get access to your credit report from all three agencies. You can get a one-off credit report from each of the CRAs online or by post for just £2.

Once you receive the reports it’s important to check the details on all three, and compare each against the other two. It’s also good to remember that credit reports only stretch back six years.

Another important thing to look out for is any adverse information after your IVA started. Ideally you should have a clean bill of health as any issues would have been registered with the CRA prior to the start of your IVA, but if they’re showing and you’ve got issues listed after your IVA started you should address these straight away.

Remember that not all accounts listed on the credit report will be CCA-regulated companies (or “money lenders” to you and me). For example your payments to your mobile phone (if you’re on a contract) and electricity companies will also appear in your credit report.

Your IVA will show on your credit file for six years from the day it started. So if your IVA was five years long it will only be listed on your credit file for a further 12 months. The idea behind asking creditors to correct the dates on defaults is to make sure that these too will be gone within 12 months.

A clean bill of health

Once your IVA and defaults have passed the six-year mark you will find that they are no longer listed on your report. This doesn’t automatically mean that you will be left with a clean rating and be able to get credit again instantly.

Ratings-wise you’re essentially starting from scratch and will have to take time to build a credit file that is attractive to lenders. Often, the only way to do this is to take a form of credit such as a credit card, use it regularly, never miss any payment and stay within the agreed limits, as Martin Lewis explains in this article.

Upward spiral

Living for five or six years without any form of credit (except possibly a mortgage) is a real achievement in this day and age. On finishing an IVA some of you may feel that you would never want to take out credit again and that you’ve learned a valuable hard won lesson.

It’s still wise to make sure that you repair your credit file to the best of your ability. You never know what’s round the corner and credit can sometimes be useful in an emergency situation. When you take out credit it’s important that you borrow within your budget and that you have the means to repay in full.

While we make every endeavour to keep your IVA on track, please be aware that failure of an IVA may lead to your creditors petitioning for your bankruptcy. If you own your own home, please also be aware that you may need to release equity in order to pay off your debts, and remortgaging may attract higher interest rates. Your IVA may be extended for a year if remortgaging is not an option.

Matthew worked as an IVA drafter prior to working in social media. In a former life he wrote scripts for Eastenders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks. He has 3 chickens, 2 dogs and a rabbit.

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  • A Howard

    Hi, in 3 months it will be 6 years since I completed my lump sum IVA, so I checked my credit score through Noddle and made a strange discovery – In the Closed accounts section most of my creditors are listed with a Settled or Satisfied status, however – in my Open Accounts history I have a Natwest Current account showing as Default status with an account number I don’t recognise.
    When I entered into my IVA I had 2 Natwest bank accounts with overdrafts which were included in the IVA, but neither of them had this account number.
    As no Natwest accounts are showing in my closed accounts is this maybe a new account number that Natwest have created to combine the two, and if so – is it normal for it to still be showing as an Open defaulted account rather than a closed Settled or Satisfied account?

  • Elizabeth Potts

    Hi – Please can someone advise me. Once I have completed my IVA will EVERYTHING be removed from my credit file?.. ‘Good as well as bad’? Or does just the ‘bad credit’ get removed?
    Thanks
    Liz

    • moneyaware

      Hi Liz,

      Thanks for posting.

      When you enter into an IVA, it’ll usually remain on your credit file for six years from the date it was approved. I find it helpful to think of a credit file as being like a conveyor belt, with most things listed on it dropping off after six years.

      However you can let the credit reference agents know when you’ve successfully completed your IVA. You’ll get a certificate to show you’ve satisfied the terms of the IVA, and you can send them a copy of it so they can update your credit file to show the IVA has been completed.

      I hope this helps,

      Jen

      • Elizabeth Potts

        Hi Jen, thank you for your response. I am still unclear though – Do positive credit scores remain on your report after the IVA finishes or is it EVERYTHING that is removed?

      • moneyaware

        Hi Liz,

        Most things, good or bad, will drop off your credit file after six years.

        I hope this helps,

        Jen

      • Natalie

        Hi Elizabeth
        The information they are providing here is incorrect. If you enter into an IVA, it will show on your credit record that you were in an IVA for 6 years after the date of completion.

      • Natalie

        Hi, an IVA will stay on your credit file for 6 years AFTER the date of completion. The information on this website is incorrect. The debts will show as partly settled if they have not been paid in full.

      • moneyaware

        Hi there,

        Just to confirm in case there’s any confusion. An IVA should appear on your credit file for six years from the date the IVA begins.

        Kind regards,

        Jen

  • kh

    Hi.
    I was hoping someone could advise me please.
    We went into an Iva in 2009. We settled it via a lump sum in 2013. Since then I have had 2 credit cards to build up good credit and never missed any payments and always pay way over the minimum payments each month.
    After checking my credit report I found that our mortgage loan was marked on the credit report as having defaulted in august 2010 when it should have been June 2009.
    I contacted the mortgage company and they have told me they have changed the date now ( took their time though ).
    My question is ,how long will this take to show in my credit report if they changed it this past friday ?
    Also will my score improve now do you think ?
    Like I said I’ve had good credit for 3 years now with no improvement really as this default was still on there.
    Thank you in advance.

    • moneyaware

      Hi there,

      Thanks for your message. In the UK there are three main credit reference agencies (Call Credit, Equifax and Experian), so it might depend on where you’re accessing your credit file as to when it’ll be updated.

      In general, your creditor will update the credit reference agencies on a monthly basis, and then they might then have their own quality assurance process before the information is updated on your credit file. That means there could be a delay before you see the updated information on your credit file. I’d suggest you speak to one of the credit reference agencies, as they should be able to provide further guidance.

      I’m not able to say for sure whether your credit score will improve once this detail has been updated. You might find it helpful to take a look at MoneySavingExpert.com, as they’ve got plenty of information about boosting your credit score: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/loans/credit-rating-credit-score

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,

      Laura

  • Andy

    I have completed my 5 year IVA, I got my completion certificate 4 months ago. Do I have to inform the tax office at all? When I was in my IVA my tax rebates where not forwarded to me but now I’m IVA free can I receive my rebates again?

    • moneyaware

      Hi Andy,

      I’d suggest getting in touch with the supervisor of your IVA and ask them what happens now. They’ll be able to say how tax rebates will be dealt with now you’ve comlpeted your IVA.

      Kind regards

      James

  • Derek Hewson

    Hello,

    I have some payday loans and an IVA. Should the payday loans status on my credit file be “default” or “IVA” and once the IVA is completed (in less than 6 years), should the loans then be “satisfied” or removed completely?

    Thanks

    • moneyaware

      Hi Derek,

      Defaults will stay on your credit file for six years from the date they were entered. Finishing your IVA won’t automatically remove this sort of information but if you’ve done a five or six year IVA it’s likely a lot of negative information will have come off your history because it’s over six years old.

      If there are more recent debts still showing on your credit file then I’d expect them to be updated to show they have been satisfied once everything is dealt with.

      There will also be a record on your credit file that you’ve entered into an IVA and that will stay on there for six years from the start of the IVA.

      If you’ve not looked at your credit file recently I’d suggest looking it up. You can do it for free using noddle: https://www.noddle.co.uk/.

      Kind regards

      James

  • Richard

    Hiya. Iinteresting read, I had an IVA which started in 2012 and I completed with a lump sum in 2013, experian were very useful and cleaned up my records for me and I finally managed to get a phone contract in Jan 2015, so thought I was going in the right direction, I tried to just to get a sofa on interest free credit and paid 30% of the cost on a lump sum and i still got turned down, my daughter who is 18 and works pt and earns not very much, amazingly got accepted. Does all this mean that within the 6 year period I am very unlikely to get any credit?

    • moneyaware

      Hi Richard,

      It’s hard to say with any certainty, as each lender makes their own decisions based on a variety of factors. I’d say that having an IVA on your credit file does usually make it harder to get past credit checks, but as you experienced with your phone contract, some companies are willing to take a risk.

      There’s some great advice on boosting your credit worthiness on MoneySavingExpert.com here: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/loans/credit-rating-credit-score#boost. Obviously it won’t take away the IVA on your history but it could help you to make sure there’s nothing else counting against you.

      Kind regards

      James

  • Rick

    Hi, I had an IVA in 2007, paid up/completed in 2011 but did not get my certificate of completion until Sept 2013. I now have 999 out of 999 on Experian, have really good great credit history but I still cannot get a loan. Even though nothing is appearing on my credit file, something is still popping up on the banks system. Can anyone help/inform me why the IVA is still in the background somewhere? Is there anything I can do as it will be 9 years since defaulted on the payments, 5 years since I paid the creditors and nearly 3 years since the certificate was finally issued.

    • moneyaware

      Hi Rick,

      There are three main credit scoring agencies in the UK. Experian, Equifax and Call Credit. All three should have broadly the same information about you, but it’s possible that information isn’t always shared across all three. For a complete picture you may want to check your credit file with the other two agencies (unless you know that your recent applications have used Experian).

      It’s also worth adding that your credit history is only part of the picture when lenders assess you. It may be your address history, employment history, income or even things like whether you’re registered on the electoral roll.

      There’s also a tendency for lenders to be the most picky about applicants when they’re offering the best deals. I presume this is because they’ll have lower margins on these offers and don’t want to take any risks.

      And finally, the scores that credit reference agencies give aren’t used by lenders themselves, they use their own criteria for assessing applicants and might weight the information different. Having a 999 score is probably a good indicator of how a lender will view you but ultimately it’s up to the lender to make the decisions.

      So there are a lot of factors that could be contributing to having applications rejects, but it’s very hard to say what it is. I’d be surprised if your IVA was a factor though if there’s nothing about it on your credit file any more.

      Kind regards

      James

    • Natalie

      Hi, The IVA will appear on your credit record for 6 years after you received your completion certificate. Over the 6 years your credit score will improve but the IVA will appear in previous insolvencies so it can effect obtaining credit.

  • Andy

    My wife and I began our iva in September 2011 so it’s nearly done just two more payments to make, however we are looking to change car asap (our car is now nearing 11 years old and is beginning to creak) would it be possible to lease a car privately within the first year of iva competition or would we not pass credit checks for even a lease until the iva has passed the 6 year mark??

    • moneyaware

      Hi Andy,

      Apologies for the delay in replying.

      It would be up to the individual companies, they all make their own decisions based on your credit history (plus other details like income and employment history).

      However, if you’ve still got a record of your IVA on your credit history it’s fairly likely to make it harder to get approved. Following the advice in the artice above may help, but unfortunately sometimes time is only way to improve your credit file.

      Kind regards

      James

  • Phil

    Hi I have a question, I paid my IVA off early about 1 year ago. I had two halifax accounts which were included in the IVA and should have been paid off as well but they keep updating the default dates which means they will stay on for a lifetime. Are they allowed to keep updating the defaults after they were included in the IVA and it has been paid off?

    • moneyaware

      Hi Phil,

      The default date on your credit file should be the actual date the account was defaulted, so it shouldn’t change from month to month.

      I’d recommend getting in touch with Halifax and asking them to look into this. If you’re unhappy with how they deal with it you may want to consider making a complaint.

      Kind regards

      James

  • Sh33na

    Hi, I completed my IVA with a lump sum September 15, the 6 year anniversary is June 17. Some of the accounts were passed on to debt agencies (eg. Max Recovery). Should these come off my CF on the anniversay of the IVA?

    • moneyaware

      Hello,

      Most information on your credit file will drop off after six years, so around June next year I’d expect the record of the IVA to no longer appear.

      Some of the information about your debts may have already passed this six year point and have started to drop off. It may be worth getting a copy of your credit file to see what’s currently on there. You can do this for free using a service called noddle: http://www.noddle.co.uk.

      Kind regards

      James

  • Paulina Mangan

    Hi. My husband completed IVA with paying lump sum on 13December 2012.We trying now for a mortgage and on Experian website it showing that one of the debt was Lloyds bank credit card and status is defaulted on 11/02/2011 but the balance still showing £4,553..I’ve got notice of completion on 8/08/2014 and that all creditors got their money. What I can do now?I already contacted Lloyds bank and waiting for an answer…Is it possibility that I still owe them that kind of money??it’s been 4 years now and I never got any letter stating this. Please Help. Paulina

  • Martyn

    I had an IVA in 2006, this turned into bankruptcy in 2008 (discharged 2009). I have just applied for a mortgage and there is no record of the Bankruptcy but the IVA is still showing 10 years on. The company, Wilson Phillips that set up the iva went bust in 2010 so I can’t contact them to get it removed. how do I get this one cleared up?

    • moneyaware

      Hi Martyn,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      It might be worth getting in touch with one of the credit references agencies like Experian. They’ll be able to offer you advice
      about mistakes on your credit file.

      I hope this helps,

      Jen

  • Paulina Mangan

    Hi. My husband completed IVA with paying lump sum on 13December 2012.We
    trying now for a mortgage and on Experian website it showing that one of
    the debt was Lloyds bank credit card and status is defaulted on
    11/02/2011 but the balance still showing £4,553..I’ve got notice of
    completion on 8/08/2014 and that all creditors got their money. What I
    can do now?I already contacted Lloyds bank and waiting for an
    answer…Is it possibility that I still owe them that kind of
    money??it’s been 4 years now and I never got any letter stating this.
    Please Help-it’s very important.Paulina

  • sarah

    Hi I got IVA and credit card I want to have one loan to pay off both iva and credit card early any recommend am paying out one loan and credit card I just want to borrow £5.000 pay both off

    • moneyaware

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      We’re unable to offer advice on IVAs because they’re legally binding agreements.

      We have a page about getting credit and loans while on an IVA here:

      https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/credit-and-loans-on-an-iva.aspx

      However it’s best to talk to your IVA provider as they’ll be able to offer more specific advice.

      Kind regards,

      Jen

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  • Rachael

    Hi, we had a certificate of completion for our IVA 9/2014 (6 years IVA, 1 year to get certificate). Just done a noddle credit check and the IVA showing as still ‘Active’ against me but not me husband (joint IVA), his is clear. I’ve sent documents to Noddle, do I have to run credit checks with other companies and check with them too? If so who? IVA paperwork states its my responsibility to sort.

    • moneyaware

      Hi Rachael,

      It might be worth contacting the other main credit references companies to let them know.

      These are:

      Experian
      Equifax

      They should be able to offer advice on what you need to do.

      I hope this helps,

      Jen

  • Dean

    My wife currently has an Iva which is due to be paid off early next year, her parents own a few properties and want to pass one on to her and her brother as a form of early Inheritance/for of income. Will my wife be able to accept any form of ownership once her Iva is cleared? Is there a rule as to how long she will have to wait as it is not a mortgaged property (owned outright) Or will she need to wait for a certificate of completion?

    • moneyaware

      Hi Dean,

      Once the IVA has ended it shouldn’t be a problem to receive assets or additional income.

      I hope this helps,

      Jen

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  • Aura Finke

    Useful post . I was enlightened by the info , Does anyone know if my assistant might grab a template Form notice of completion document to type on ?

  • Pingback: Can I Get A Mortgage After An Iva 2012 | Family Mortgage()

  • John

    Hi! I started my IVA in Jan 2013 and completed it in Sep 2015 (I paid it off Dec 2013 but it took them a long time to sign it off.) Am now trying to rebuild my credit rating.
    I notice one of my creditors on the IVA, Nationwide had been registering a default against me every month from Jan 2011 until sept 2015.
    Is it right that they should continue to do this even after they’ve agreed to the terms of the IVA?

    Many thanks!

  • JS

    Hi, I started an IVA in Jan 2014 but decided after a month that it was the wrong thing to do so agreed to terminate it. It is now still sitting on my credit file as satisfied but surely as I only had it for a month (it shows as 3 months on the file) there is a way to have this removed rather than it sit there for another 3 years? What if I write to the court could they remove it?

    • Becca Drury

      Hi there, thanks for posting.

      As with any information on your credit file, your IVA will show on your credit file for six years from the date it was logged. This is to show lenders or anyone performing a credit check a history of your credit, balances and public information such as insolvencies. You can read more about credit files here: https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/debt-collection/how-does-debt-affect-a-credit-file.aspx

      Credit files aren’t something that a court could usually have any say over, information is added by lenders and other organisations, and held by credit reference agencies. The positive thing is, that it’s never permanent and after a period of time they will be removed – often it’s just a case of time.

      Best regards

      Rachel