Is it time for a credit clean out?

Harriet Meyer / 11 April 2016

Unpaid debts and old unused credit cards could be wrecking your credit report. Give your finances the once over with our guide to cleaning up your credit.

It might not be a fun task, but sorting through your finances every so often is essential. 

But alongside checking your regular outgoings, ensure you don’t have any old debts lurking in your financial history.

It’s surprisingly easy to forget about a small sum owed on a credit card, say, or old catalogue bills that have never been paid. However, you risk being refused credit in the future by damaging your financial record if you fail to tackle any unpaid debts.

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Here are some steps to take to keep your finances squeaky clean.

Finding old bills

Check all the accounts you can think of – making a list to try and jog your memory of any that may have been forgotten over time. 

Perhaps you subscribed to a store card, or catalogue account that remains unused? Going through old bank statements may help you recall any debts you have had in the past, alongside sorting through old paperwork.

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Cancel unused credit cards

Do you have any credit cards that are currently unused? You may use another card now, finding you don’t benefit from an awards scheme attached to a previous card anymore.

Cancel these cards. Even if you don’t owe any money on your account, an unused card could potentially impact your financial record. 

These cards also pose a fraud risk. While the account remains active, there’s the chance details could fall into the wrong hands.

Read our guide to cancelling credit cards

Check your credit report

Register with one of the credit rating agencies, such as Callcredit, Experian or Equifax

You can get a copy of your credit file online, and check for any inaccuracies. This gives you access to what lenders are seeing about your financial history – and may flag any unpaid debts you are unaware of. 

Financial providers partly base their decisions on your repayment history when deciding whether to lend you money.

More information on how to check your credit report

Informative, in-depth and in the know: get the latest money news with Saga Magazine. 

How to clear unpaid debt

If you find an unpaid debt listed on your file contact the company directly to deal with this. 

Meanwhile, you can add a ‘notice of correction’ to your credit record. 

This is a short statement explaining why the debt hasn’t been paid off. Perhaps you were ill, or moved house during this period. 

An explanation may help rectify any damage to your history while you resolve this directly.

For more tips and useful information, browse our money articles.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.