How do I clear my debts and rebuild my credit rating?

Dear James,

I have previously stuck my head in the sand regarding my debts.  How can I find out who I owe money to? I want to repay my debts and improve my credit score.

Kate, Glos

Dear Kate,

Well done on taking an important first step – making the decision to tackle your debts. Sticking your head in the sand can seem like an easy way out but it often only prolongs the inevitable and, in some cases, can make things worse. A good place to begin is to order a copy of your credit report. This will list any debts run up over the past six years shared with Experian, along with the identity of the current debt owners – bad debts can often be sold on. You can then make contact with the various lenders involved to agree repayment plans. If you need a little support doing this you might like to check out My Money Steps which will guide you through the process and help you stay on top of everything. And if you feel unable to do this yourself, now or in the future, you’ll find contact details on this site for National Debtline. Its trained advisers will be able to talk you through your other options, such as setting up a debt management plan through a third party provider. Your credit rating should gradually improve as you begin to take control of your debts and pay off the outstanding balances. If any debts have defaulted or been pursued through the courts then after six years these will drop off your credit report completely, so there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel! Good luck. (August 2013)

James
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