How to clean up your credit file after an IVA

posted by in Living with debt

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.

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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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