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How to find out how much debt you owe

Are you sure you know about all your debts? You may have:

  • Changed address
  • Not heard from who you owe in a while

You can check your credit file to find out who you owe money to. It will show if you have any defaults, County Court judgments (CCJs) or decrees.

This is the first step in dealing with your debt problems.

Collect the details of your debts and get free online debt advice.

How can I find out how much debt I owe?

Use a 'credit reference agency' (CRA) to check your credit file.

Your credit file helps calculate your credit score.

It has information on your:

  • Debts
  • Bank accounts
  • Loans, credit cards and any other credit you have taken out
  • Bills, such as mobile phones, utilities and insurances

The main CRAs in the UK are:

  • Experian
  • Equifax
  • TransUnion (formerly Callcredit)

Find out more about debt and credit files.

Can I get a free copy of my credit file online?

Yes. You can do this through:

You can either:

  • Ask CRAs to post a copy to you
  • View online for free with adverts

Each CRA gets different information from lenders. This means your credit file may not look the same.

Why are some debts not on my credit file?

A debt might be missing because:

  • It is old
  • Your creditor needs to ask the CRA to add it

Older debts

Debts show on your credit file for six years from:

  • The date they are paid off, or
  • The date the account 'defaulted' when you missed a payment

Information about the debt is taken off your file after this time has passed. Even if you still owe it.

This means you cannot find out about older debts from your credit file.

Read more about howdefault notices for missed payments work.

Other debts not added to your credit file

Some lenders might not add any information to your credit file. Such as:

  • Utility providers
  • Insurance companies

This is because they do not have to.

To find these debts, you can:

  • Check letters and emails
  • Get in touch with the people you owe

How do I find out if I have a CCJ or decree?

Your credit file has details of CCJs, decrees and insolvencies like bankruptcy.

County Court judgment (CCJ) and decrees

These appear on your credit file for six years from the date of the judgment.

You can also check the public register of judgments.

  • Operated by the Registry Trust
  • Apply for information at Trust Online
  • There is a £6 fee to access this information
  • Information is stored for six years

The register shows:

  • If you have a CCJ or decree
  • The date of the judgment
  • The amount owed
  • The name of the court that issued the judgment

The register does not say the name of the creditor. Contact the court for this.

Take steps to understand your options and deal with the CCJ or decree.

Find out more about:

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Other ways to find out about your debts

Check letters and emails from the people you owe

Look for account numbers and balances.

If you have changed address and did not share the new one, you could:

  • Ask if there has been any mail for you at your old address. You could ask:
  • The people living at your old address
  • Your old landlord or agency
  • Give them a forwarding address

Get in touch with the people you owe

This can be the easiest way to find out what you owe.

Tell them you are sorting out your finances. They might agree to a temporary payment holiday.

signpost iconRead our guide to making a budget. Use this to show your creditors what you can afford to pay them.

Sometimes debts are passed to a debt collection agency. The original creditor should have a record of your debt.

Check your bank account statements

You can do this with either:

  • Online banking, or
  • Copies of old statements

You might need to ask your bank for other statements. They sometimes charge for this.

You can also look through old direct debits to find debts.

Debts to government bodies

Get in touch with the right department or agency.

Read about council tax arrears.

Should I wait to hear about debts I don't know about?

This might be your only option.

Creditors will find you from:

  • Your last known address
  • The address on your credit file
  • Specialist tracing agents

You must keep your address updated.

Try not to avoid repaying debts or contacting creditors. This puts you at risk of:

  • Further court action
  • The amount you owe going up

Waiting for creditors to contact you should be a last resort.