Did you know that a County Court Judgement (CCJ) can negatively affect your chances of getting credit for up to six years? This can feel quite scary, especially if you get a CCJ issued against you. However, many people don't even realise they have a CCJ against them until they apply for credit. This is why we must keep an eye on our credit file and do our best to improve them. Let's have a look at how to find out if you have a CCJ.
What is a CCJ?
Firstly, we need to know what a CCJ is. It's a County Court Judgement. This is when a creditor thinks you won't repay money you owe them so they apply for a CCJ. If the court agrees with them, a judgement will be issued. You'll receive this through the post. This will tell you to pay the money back to the creditor. It is at this point you can decide what you're going to do.
If you think the creditor is incorrect you can dispute the claim. You could pay the full amount straight away to clear the CCJ. If you're unable to pay the amount in one go you could ask to come up with an instalment plan, so it gets paid off over a set amount of time. There are also times where you believe the creditor actually owes you money, maybe for a breach of contract. In this case, you could claim against them. Simply ignoring the CCJ will not make it go away. That is when more serious action could be taken by the court, including the taking of belongings to clear the debt. They could also apply for an additional judgement, a third party debt order which would mean they could take money from your bank account or, in some cases, take it from your salary directly from your employer.
Of course, sometimes we've moved home or simply don't get the issue through the mail. There are often occurrences where we simply do not know that a CCJ has taken place. What happens then? What if you don't actually know a County Court Judgement has been issued against you?
How to find out if you have a CCJ
In order to find out if you have a CCJ against you, you need to access your credit report. There are times where the post may have got lost or simply not found its way to you so the court thing you are ignoring the paperwork but you actually haven't seen it. If you have a CCJ that you know nothing about on your credit profile, the first thing you need to is identify the case number before contacting the court that issued the judgement. There are a few ways to access your credit report. How to find out if you have a CCJ?
Search online for Experian, Clearscore or Credit Karma. You also don't need to pay for access to your credit report as you can gain access to it for free, for life. You can set up to receive emails as and when there are changes to your report. Getting familiar with your credit report will allow you to see any differences in it month on month. You'll also be able to figure out ways to boost your credit score.
How will a CCJ affect your credit score?
A County Court Judgement will stay on your credit report for six years. If you were to pay the full amount without one month, you can get the judgment removed. You'll simply need to write to the court with evidence that you have paid and ask for it to be taken off. If you pay the full amount after one month, it will stay on your file. However it will be noted that you have paid it. If you are going to pay, pay quickly within that first month so it can be removed and not be seen by future creditors.
Your credit score is a number between 0 and 999. The higher the number, the more likely you are of being approved for credit. Lenders will check your score before agreeing to a loan, credit card or sometimes even a bank account. Potential employers or letting agents might check it before offering you the job or home, respectively. It's worth noting that anybody can check the public register, they just have to pay a small fee. With this they would be able to see your name and address, along with the CCJ case number and court that issued. It will also show the amount of money owed.
If we look at how a CCJ can affect your score in terms of points, a missed payment on a bill or a debt would knock at least 80 points off your score. When you consider that our credit scores are between 0-999, there isn't much to play with. Defaulting on a payment is worse, losing you around 350 points. A CCJ would cost you about 250 points, but for most County Court Judgements, there will already be a debt with a default. So this 250 points would be on top of that, creating chaos to your credit score.
What happens if you don't pay a CCJ?
Not paying your CCJ can lead to enforcements coming into place. This can include bailiffs and a charge being placed on your property. As mentioned the money can actually be taken straight from your wages via an Attachment of Earnings Order. If you owe the money and know you owe the money, clear it if you are able to. It won't show on your credit file if you pay in full within 30 days. This works out better for you in the long run.
If you have paid it off, be sure to keep proof of payment in case there is a mess up with the paperwork and bailiffs end up knocking on your door. If you can prove you've paid the money, everything should be ok. Keep a copy and know where it is.
A CCJ can be pretty drastic in terms of what it does to your credit score but if you keep an eye on your credit report and pay the money you owe, you'll be fine.