When someone applies for credit, lenders look at information about their financial standing held by credit reference agencies. When someone becomes bankrupt, the bankruptcy is recorded on their credit reference file along with other information.

I am currently bankrupt. On my credit reference file there is a default for an account which was included in my bankruptcy. Is this right?

Yes. If an account has been included in your bankruptcy, the lender should have marked the account in default. The default will stay on your credit reference file for six years from the date of the default.

You can ask the credit reference agency to add a statement called a 'notice of correction' to the default entry. In your statement, you may like to say that the entry was included in your bankruptcy.

My bankruptcy has been annulled. I’ve noticed that an account that was included in my bankruptcy is marked in default later than my bankruptcy. Can I do anything to change it?

Sometimes a lender will not know the exact date you were made bankrupt. This may mean that when the lender registers a default with the credit reference agencies, the date on the default is later than the date on your bankruptcy order.

If a particular debt is included in the bankruptcy, you can write to the lender to ask them to change the date of the default to the date on your bankruptcy order. Remember to send the lender a copy of your bankruptcy order or other documentation which confirms the date you were declared bankrupt.

If the lender refuses to change the date of the default then you may wish to report your concerns to the ICO. You will need to send us:

  • a copy of the bankruptcy order of document that confirms the date you were made bankrupt; and
  • a copy of the lender’s letter which says it won’t change the date of the default.

I have been discharged from bankruptcy. Why doesn’t my credit reference file show that my bankruptcy has been discharged?

Some credit reference agencies will not know when your bankruptcy was discharged unless you paid the Official Receiver to publicly advertise your discharge from bankruptcy. If you didn’t ask the Official Receiver to advertise your discharge and you want it to be recorded on your credit reference file, you will need to send confirmation of your discharge (for example, documents from the court or Official Receiver) to the credit reference agencies and ask them to update your credit reference file. It is worth obtaining further copies of your files after a month to check they have been updated.

For instructions on how to get a copy of your credit file read our guide to credit.

My credit reference file shows that my bankruptcy has been discharged. But shouldn’t the credit reference agency have removed the record of my bankruptcy?

The bankruptcy entry will remain on your credit reference file for six years from the date of the bankruptcy order even if you have been discharged and have told the credit reference agencies. The lenders whose debts were included in your bankruptcy should then mark the entry on your credit reference file to show that you no longer owe money on that account (perhaps by marking the entry as ‘partially satisfied’ or ‘partially settled’ or in some other way).

What happens to defaulted accounts on my credit reference file?

After you have been discharged from your bankruptcy you can send proof of your discharge to all the lenders whose debts were included in your bankruptcy. Those lenders should then mark the entry on your credit reference file to show that you no longer owe money on that account (perhaps by marking the entry as ‘partially satisfied’ or ‘partially settled’ or in some other way).

Once the lender has changed the information on the entry, if you make any new credit applications the prospective lender will be able to see that you do not owe any more money on that account. You can ask the credit reference agency to add a statement called a 'notice of correction' to the default entry. In your statement, you can explain that the entry was included in your bankruptcy which is now discharged.

My bankruptcy has been annulled. What will happen to my credit reference file?

If your bankruptcy has been annulled but the annulment was not advertised publicly, some of the credit reference agencies will require you to send proof of the annulment. Once notified agencies will remove all reference to the bankruptcy order.

The Enterprise Act has reduced the length of time for an automatic discharge. However, these changes do not alter the length of time your bankruptcy is on your credit file. The record of your bankruptcy will remain on your credit file for six years from the date of your bankruptcy. The Enterprise Act does not apply in Northern Ireland. The equivalent law is the Insolvency (NI) Order 2005.

How can I obtain a copy of my credit reference file?

To find out how to get a copy of your credit file read our guide to credit.