A reader, Ms J asked about a CCJ that suddenly appeared on her credit report.
“I check my credit record a couple of times a year and there is now a CCJ on there. It looks like it was added 2 months ago at an address I left ages ago, possibly 8 years.
I don’t even know if this is real or some sort of error. It’s only a few hundred but I don’t want to pay it if I don’t have to and I don’t know who to pay as there are no details about it.
I have sent a dispute to the credit report who say they will get the credit reference agency to look into this.
What else can I do? Thank goodness I’m not trying to buy a house at the moment!”
It is very lucky you aren’t trying to get a mortgage as these problems can take time to be sorted out.
Why aren’t there more details on the credit report?
It would be much more helpful if the credit report said who the creditor was. But the Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs) don’t have this information.
The courts pass details of CCJs to Registry Trust, who maintains the national database of CCJs. Then CRAs get the information they report from Registry Trust.
But the information from the English courts sent to Registry Trust doesn’t include the name of the claimant – that’s the firm that went to court because they were owed money. So Registry Trust doesn’t know this. And the CRAs can’t include it in your report.
You can check Registry Trust to see if you have a CCJ. They allow you to search to see if anyone has CCJs, so you can search for your own name. But you have to pay for this search and it doesn’t give you any more information that isn’t on your credit record already. So it’s not much help.
This isn’t a good system. Registry Trust is campaigning to get it changed, see Why creditors should back inclusion of claimant data, but that isn’t going to help you at the moment.
The Credit Reference Agency isn’t going to be of any use
A lot of credit reports try sound as though they may help you sort this out.
For example, checkmyfile says:
Help When You Need It
If you find Court action you don’t expect to see, or if there is a problem with any data returned, help from our Credit Analysts is available
And Credit Karma lets you raise a dispute with TransUnion, the CRA they report data from:
Log into your Credit Karma account and access your credit report. Click on the button Raise a dispute with TransUnion at the bottom of the page
But this isn’t going to get you anywhere.
You need to know who the claimant is in the court cases and no-one knows this except the court. Not your credit report, not the CRA, not Registry Trust. And for data protection, the court will only talk to you about this.
Contact the court to find who the claimant was
You can contact the court by phone or by email.
Many CCJs used to go through the County Court Business Centre – this has now been renamed to the Civil National Business Centre (CNBC) – their contact details are here. You can search for the contact details for other courts here.
It may take a long time for the phone to be answered. I suggest you don’t call on Monday morning or over the lunch period unless you have no other alternative.
If you don’t get a reply to your email within a week, I think you have to try phoning.
Then ask the claimant for details of the debt
If you recognise the name of the claimant, this may clarify what the debt was.
But often this is the name of a debt collector you never had any dealings with. Here you need to contact the debt collector, say you have found this CCJ on your credit record and you have no idea what the debt was. Then ask the debt collector what the original debt was and who was the creditor.
If you don’t think this debt is yours, tell the current creditor this and ask them to prove the debt is yours.
If you did owe the money, you can pay it and it can be marked as satisfied on your credit record. In this case, it will stay on your credit record for 6 years from the judgment date and continue to harm your credit score, even though it is satisfied. (A CCJ is removed if you pay it within a month of the judgment, but that deadline has passed for Ms J.)
Here one option is to talk to National Debtline on 0808 808 4000 about whether you could apply to have the CCJ “set aside”, which would remove it from your credit record. You could then settle the debt and with no CCJ it won’t be harming your credit score. A set aside application needs to be made promptly after you have found out there is a CCJ. Don’t dither and leave this for a few months.
A possibility when the debt is very old, as Ms J’s seems to be, is to apply to have it set aside on the grounds that the debt was statute barred when the CCJ was obtained. Here you wouldn’t have to pay the debt. This may not be straightforward – again talk to National Debtline about this.
If you don’t do anything, CCJs remain on the record for six years
CCJs will remain on your credit file and on the Trust Online database for six years after the judgment date. After that, they drop off however they still exist.
If you are worried that you have CCJs that are older than 6 years but you haven’t been contacted about them, there isn’t anything you do to find out about these. You aren’t very likely to be contacted about them.
They never become “statute-barred”, but after six years a claimant has to apply to the court for permission to enforce a CCJ. It is possible they will get permission, but it is unlikely as it has been so long since the judgment before they have attempted to enforce it.
If a creditor contacts you about a CCJ that is over 6 years old or goes to court to enforce a CCJ which is over six years old, contact National Debtline for advice about your situation.