The word ‘debt’ comes with a lot of connotations which can understandably cause concern and even fear. Initiatives like Money and Pensions Service’s ‘Talk Money Week’ and StepChange Debt Charity’s ‘Debt Awareness Week’ (which is this week) seek to break down the ‘taboo’ and increase people’s financial capability so that they can get the help and support they need to address financial issues quickly before they escalate.
While any type of debt can be emotive, once it reaches County Court Judgment (CCJ) stage, it tends to become even more daunting. The legal language around ‘defendants’ and ‘claimants’ often sounds scarier than it actually is and can leave people feeling that they are in trouble and cannot control the situation. There is also a perception that an ‘unsatisfied’ CCJ on your credit file is just something you have to ‘live with’ for six years.
Whatever the circumstances that lead to a CCJ being issued, the most important first step is to address and deal with it as early as possible by contacting both the creditor and the court directly, or seeking help with doing so. Ignoring a CCJ, or being unaware of it due to a change of address, can have a serious knock on impact on your ‘financial fitness’ and creditworthiness. Taking action as soon as possible is the key to ensuring this doesn’t happen and there is lots of information and help available for those that are struggling with the process.
A CCJ doesn’t mean that you have fallen into unmanageable problem debt that can’t be resolved. It could be anything from a mistake to a small default that has not been resolved due to the creditor holding outdated details. It could be a direct debit that was cancelled too early or an unpaid invoice that is being disputed. Whatever it may be, it is resolvable.
CCJs can be cancelled or removed in some instances. If they can be paid and are paid, they can then be marked as ‘satisfied’ on the public Register of Judgments, Orders, and Fines that we maintain and make available through www.trustonline.org.uk. However, many are not aware that you currently have to provide proof of payment to the relevant court yourself, leaving many paid CCJ debts ‘unsatisfied’ on the Register and credit files. We are campaigning to change this so that the onus is on the claimant but in the meantime it’s important to be aware of this final step to formally satisfy a CCJ so that it doesn’t impact your ability to obtain credit for any longer than necessary.
From keeping on top of your credit score and checking for records on our public Register (TrustOnline), to taking action as soon as a CCJ is issued, or addressing it later down the line if it has slipped through the net, you can ensure that you are in control and not let a fear or lack of understanding of CCJs lead to bigger issues.
The best place to start is to get informed about what CCJs are and how to be aware of and deal with them. This blog I wrote for Talk Money Week 2020 provides an introduction and overview to CCJs and your credit score and the ‘Learn’ section on the Registry Trust website and Help Topics on the TrustOnline website provide more detail on frequently asked questions. Whether you have never had to deal with a CCJ before and just want to be prepared, or need to deal with an outstanding one, why not use Debt Awareness Week to gain the knowledge you need to take the fear out of the CCJ process?
If you want to keep up to date with our latest blog posts, you can click here to subscribe to our monthly updates and/or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can also follow our public website TrustOnline on Facebook and LinkedIn for regular useful updates about CCJs, credit scores and more.