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Can other people find out I'm in debt?

If you’re in arrears with your debts, you may be worried that other people will find out.

Details of your debts are confidential between you and your creditors. They can’t discuss your situation with anyone else without your permission.

However, some information relating to court action or insolvency is public and in theory it could be seen by anyone. In practice, it’s unlikely anyone you know would come across this sort of information by accident.

Is court action public information?

If you continue to miss payments towards a debt, your creditors could take court action to get you to repay it. The following court actions are public information:

  • England and Wales - County Court judgments (CCJs), administration orders, Child Support Agency (CSA) liability orders and some criminal fines
  • Scotland – decrees
  • Northern Ireland – money judgments

Anyone can search your details of the public register by contacting Registry Trust online and paying a fee of £4.

The register will show your name and address, and details of the court action taken including the date and the amount owed at the point the action happened.

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Insolvency debt solutions and public information

If you deal with your debts by starting any of the following insolvency solutions your details will appear on a public Insolvency Register if you live in England, Wales or Scotland which can be searched for free by anyone.

  • Bankruptcy
  • Debt relief orders (DROs) 
  • Individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) 
  • Trust deeds in Scotland

Details of bankruptcy will also appear in The Gazette. This is a Government publication which records official information.

If you live in Northern Ireland and choose any of the following insolvency solutions your details will be held on the public DRO Register which can be searched.

  • Debt relief orders
  • Debt relief restrictions undertakings and orders (DRRUs/DRROs)
  • Bankruptcy restriction undertakings and orders (BRUs/BROs)
  • IVAs

Details of bankruptcy will also be published in the Belfast Telegraph.

Who can see my credit file?

Most creditors share information about your debts with credit reference agencies. These records can be searched by other creditors, but they’re not visible to the general public.

Worried about debt?

If you’re struggling to pay your debts, we can help. Our online Debt Remedy tool will give you personalised debt advice whatever your situation.

Or if you’d prefer to speak to us call our Helpline and talk to one of our expert advisors.

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.

We link to external websites where they contain relevant information for our visitors. We're not responsible for the content of these websites, or any infringement on your data rights under data protection regulations by any external website provider.

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

© StepChange Debt Charity 2018