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Debt write off. How do I get my debts written off?

We’re often asked if there’s any way to get debts written off. There are several debt solutions that allow people to write off a range of debts. Also , creditors may agree to 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.

You may be able to apply for a debt solution that will write off some or all your debts, if it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pay what you owe in a reasonable amount of time.

Be wary of adverts talking about ways to write off debt. These are often promoting debt solutions that make the most money for the companies advertising them.

It’s important to get free and impartial debt advice before going ahead with any debt solution. This will help you to understand what options are best suited to your circumstances and how your situation will be affected.

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Which debt solutions write off debts?

There are a range of insolvency debt solutions which will see some or all of your debts written off.Read our guides to learn about the different benefits, risks and fees associated with each solution.

Insolvency solutions to write off debts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

  • Bankruptcy:A form of insolvency that writes off unsecured debts if you can't afford to repay them. Any assets you have, such as a house or car, may be sold to pay off your debts
  • Debt relief order(DRO) :A way to have your debts written off if you have a relatively low level of debt and have few assets
  • Individual voluntary arrangement(IVA): A formal agreement where you to make affordable payments to your debts, usually over five or six years. You can also make a one-off payment, so the IVA lasts for a much shorter time

Insolvency solutions to write off debts in Scotland

  • Sequestration, or Scottish bankruptcy: A form of insolvency that writes off unsecured debts if you can't afford to repay them. Any assets you have, such as a house or car, may be sold to pay off your debts
  • Protected trust deed: A legally-binding agreement where you make reduced payments over four years, then your unsecured debts are written off
  • Minimal assets process (MAP) bankruptcy: Another type of bankruptcy, aimed at people with a low income and not many assets bankruptcy

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 in the solution usually can’t do anything to get their money back.

But there are drawbacks as well. Some insolvency solutions require you to pay a fee first, and there’s a risk of having to sell your house or car. All insolvency solution will have a negative effect on your credit file.

Find out about the different debt solutions available to pay back or write off debt.

Can I ask my creditors to write off my debts?

We often speak to people who can’t afford to pay anything towards their debts. You could find yourself in this situation if you’re permanently unable to work or have a terminal illness.

If this happens to you, it may be worth asking your creditors to write off your debts. Some creditors may agree to do this if:

  • they understand they’re unlikely to get repayments from you
  • they can see you have no assets that can be used to pay back the debt, or
  • you can show evidence that it isn’t worthwhile or fair for them to keep pursuing the debt

However, creditors are only likely to agree to writing off debts in the most serious cases. They’re very likely to ask for proof, such as medical evidence, before they’ll consider this option.

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

If you're dealing with a mental health issue that can affect your ability to repay what you owe, it may help you to let your creditors know.

If you send a debt and mental health evidence form (DMHEF), completed by a health or social care worker, your creditors may be more considerate when dealing with you.

Find out more about debt and mental health.

signpost icon If you contact us for debt advice, please do let us know if your situation means it’s unlikely you’ll be able to repay your debts. We can support and advise you on the best way to deal with your finances.

Does writing off debt affect your credit rating?

If your debt is written off debt in full, it’ll usually be marked in your credit history as paid. However, if you’ve missed any payments, paid less than the contractual agreement, or the account has been defaulted before you paid off the balance, it’ll be recorded on your file for six years.

In some cases, creditors may be willing to write off part of a debt if you offer to pay off the remaining amount in a lump sum, or over a few months. This is known as a full and final settlement, and it'll be marked on your credit file as a partial payment.

It’s not guaranteed that your creditors will accept your offer. Your chances of them agreeing will often depend on the amount you can pay back. But creditors are more likely to agree to a partial settlement than simply writing off the whole balance.

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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. We can also support you if we recommend insolvency or negotiate with creditors to write off your debts.

Often there will be other options to deal with your debts, even if it seems like you can’t afford to pay them anything. Take two minutes to answer a few simple questions, so we can understand the best way to help you. Or you can call us (free from all landlines and mobiles) to find out more.

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