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Can I write off debt?

We’re often asked if there’s any way to get debts written off. Sometimes creditors may agree write off part of a debt, or in some cases all of it, but this depends on your situation.

It can also depend on the approach you take to dealing with your debts.

Asking creditors to write off debts

We often speak to people whose circumstances mean they can’t afford to pay anything to their debts, and that this situation is unlikely to change.

You could find yourself in this situation if, for example, you were permanently unable to work, or you have a terminal illness. If you find yourself in a vulnerable situation, there are certain things your creditors can do to help.

In situations like this it may be worth asking creditors to write off your debts rather than keep contacting you to ask for money you don’t have.

Some creditors may agree to do this if you have no assets, and you can show evidence that it isn’t worthwhile or fair for them to keep pursuing the debt.

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However, creditors are only likely to agree to this in the most serious cases, and you may need to provide evidence to them, for example medical reports, before they’ll consider this.  

In practice, instead of writing off the debt creditors may simply agree not to contact you about the debt for a period of time.

Asking creditors to write off some of a debt

In some cases, creditors might be willing to write off part of a debt if you can pay off the remaining amount in a single lump sum, or over a few months. 

This is often known as agreeing a reduced, or full and final settlement.

It’s not guaranteed that your creditors will accept this, and your chances of agreeing it will depend on the percentage you can pay back. But creditors are more likely to agree to this than simply writing off the whole balance.

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Using insolvency to write off debts

There are a range of insolvency debt solutions which will see some or all of your debts written off.  These include

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Scotland

These insolvency measures have many advantages over trying to make agreements direct with your creditors to write off debts. Insolvency is legally binding and creditors included usually can’t do anything to get their money back.

But there are drawbacks too – some insolvency measures require fees and there’s a risk of losing assets such as your house or car. All insolvency measures will have a serious effect on your credit file.

Advice on writing off debts

If you feel like there’s nothing you can do to deal with your debts, and you want advice on writing them off, we can help. 

We’ll help you to prepare a budget and work out what options there are to deal with your debts. If that means insolvency or negotiating with creditors to write off debts, we can help you with that.

Often there will be other options to deal with your debts, even if it seems like you can’t afford to pay them anything. Use our online Debt Remedy or call our free Helpline (free from all landlines and mobiles) to find out more.

Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

*This is the average rating of our service on Feefo by DMP and DRO clients three months into their solution.

© StepChange Debt Charity 2016