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Debt write off. Can you write off debts?

We’re often asked if there’s any way to get debts written off. Sometimes 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.

Can debt be written off?

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.

people iconIf 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 will support and advise you.

How do creditors treat people with mental health issues?

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.

Does writing off debt affect your credit rating?

If you write off your debt in full, it will be marked in your credit history as paid. But if you’d missed any payments, paid less than the contractual agreement, or the account had defaulted, before you paid off the balance, that will be on your file for six years.

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 known as a full and final settlement, and it will 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 percentage 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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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 advice service or call us (free from all landlines and mobiles) to find out more.

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