Record number stung with CCJs in 2016 - how to avoid them and what to do if you get one

The number of people getting County Court Judgments (CCJs) has gone up, so what should you do if you're worried about getting one yourself?

The important thing to remember about CCJs is that they are almost always avoidable. Here’s what you need to know about them and how to make sure your debts don’t get to that stage.

According to recent statistics from The Registry Trust, there were more County Court Judgments against consumers last year in England and Wales than any other year since records began.

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During 2016 there were 15.77 consumer judgments per 1000 people, whereas the year before, there were 12.79 per 1000 people.

You can end up with a CCJ if you don’t pay back a debt like a loan, credit card, store card or catalogue, or even if you don’t pay a parking fine.

You can also get one if you fall behind with your payments for certain services, like your mobile phone contract, gas or electric bills.

If you get one, it means that a court has agreed you owe the company in question the money they’re asking for. The court will then decide how and when you need to pay this money back.

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If you don’t stick to the rules of your CCJ, your creditor has the right to start enforcement action to try and get their money back. This includes things like taking money straight from your wages or benefits, or sending bailiffs round to your home.

If you get a CCJ, it will show on your credit history for six years and can mean that borrowing, or being approved for certain services (like getting a mobile phone contract), becomes more difficult or more expensive in the future.

How to avoid a CCJ

In some cases, companies only decide to try and get a CCJ against you if they haven’t heard anything from you and they believe you have no intention of repaying what you owe.

So if you’re struggling with your repayments, you need to stay in contact with your lenders or service providers.

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It's vital to make sure all your addresses are up to date. Even if you do get one, the problem can get worse if the courts send a CCJ to an old address, giving you no chance to respond and sort out the problem.

Open the letters you get from them, so you understand the situation you’re in and give them a call to talk things through. Explain to them why you’re having problems with your payments and how you plan to get back on track. They might be able to change something about your repayment plan in order to make it more affordable for you, like reducing or suspending your payments for a while, or freezing interest and charges. Tackling the problem as early as possible is a good way of making sure you never get a CCJ. Debt Advisory Centre: 0161 871 4881

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