A reader who had gone bankrupt recently was surprised to get a letter from “The Register of Bad Debtors”. This offered to remove her name from their records if she pays them £49.95. She asked if BadDebtor can really do this? There are also reports that people with IVAs are receiving similar letters.
August 21 – the Bad Debtor home page has been replaced by an abstract moving graphic but the other website pages remain.
August 18 – the Debt Update newsletter from the Expert Advice team at Citizens Advice says they have been contacted by the Insolvency Service regarding Bad Debtor: “bankrupts being targeted by scammers”. Their advice is the same as in this article.
August 17 – the Bad Debtor twitter account has been deleted. And the two photographs I commented on (below) have been deleted – one of them after the individual concerned contacted Bad Debtor and said he would start legal action if his photograph was not removed.
The letter (without personal details and with my view!):
“The Court Order will remain on the credit reference file for six years from the date of the order even if it has been discharged and you have told the credit reference agencies.”
Bankruptcy, IVAs and DROs remain on the credit reference agency (CRA) records for six years. This applies whatever you do. Paying BadDebtor any money isn’t going to change this.
“You now have the option to voluntarily elect to remove details off BadDebtor platforms immediately.”
Of course they can delete people from their own database. I could set up a list and offer to cross your name off it if you pay me money! But many people reading that letter might think they would be getting something useful for their money, and they won’t.
It says BadDebtor “publishes to the following sectors:”
- BadDebtor platform
If no one looks at their “platform”, who cares?
- Local Newspapers
I can’t see any evidence of this.
BadDebtor has two Facebook pages, which don’t have details of personal insolvencies. BadDebtor doesn’t know your Facebook identity and even if they did, they can’t post on your timeline. You can prevent non-friends tagging you through Facebook security settings.
BadDebtor don’t have a LinkedIn page. Paul Petticrew, who signed the letter, has two LinkedIn pages (?!?) No personal insolvency details are published on either page.
- Supplier Database
Why would any supplier database be interested in BadDebtor information? If someone can pay to get their name deleted, it’s useless!
- Local Banks
Banks get their credit data from one of the three regulated CRAs. No bank is going to be interested in information from BadDebtor.
- Credit Agencies
The three CRAs get their information from the Insolvency Service. That information isn’t going to change no matter how much money you pay to anyone.
- Social Network Portals
So vague – I think you can ignore this.
The BadDebtor website
The home page has nine pictures of people. Perhaps you are supposed to be scared your picture will appear there? I’ve had a look at a couple of the pictures:
- one of them is American and has worked in Wisconsin for many years;
- one of them is British but his name – which is different from the name attached to the picture on the website – doesn’t appear on the Insolvency Register.
I think these are just random pictures picked off the Internet. Reputable companies don’t do this!
The Data Removal page has some impressive looking logos at the top. Although the page is careful not to say this, I think you are supposed to assume “Remove my information” means your details will be removed by these companies.
But the first two logos are from companies that have nothing to do with credit ratings or bad debts. They just sound as though they might – again not something a reputable firm would do:
- ClearData Research is a US company working in the area of customer satisfaction;
- ClearData Group is a UK document management company.
Then there are the three logos for the three UK CRAs: Equifax, Experian and Call Credit. It’s your data with these CRAs that is important for your credit score. But Baddebtor doesn’t supply information to the CRAs so removing your name from the Baddebtor database won’t have any effect.
So don’t pay them any money!
You can’t conceal your bankruptcy or IVA by paying BadDebtor. And it won’t improve your credit score at all. You won’t get any benefit from it, so save your money!
The letter and website are carefully worded so nothing is factually wrong. But I think it could give a false impression to someone not familiar with credit reporting in Britain. People who have gone bankrupt, are in an IVA or DRO could feel very worried by the idea of their details being published on social media.
If you feel you have been misled and you have already paid them, you could report them to Trading Standards and talk to Citizens Advice to see if there is a way to get a refund.
Can you improve your credit record after insolvency?
The golden rule is never pay a firm offering to improve your credit rating – it either won’t work at all (as in this case) or they will be charging you for something it is easy to do yourself for free.
It is possible to repair your credit record after insolvency. It’s not fast and there are no short cuts, but you can do it yourself and it doesn’t cost anything. The following articles explain what to do and when: