Can someone else's debt affect my credit rating?

Last updated: Aug 16th, 2012
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Question

My brother has been staying at my home recently. He has some debt problems and letters have been arriving for him at my home demanding money and stating that he is going to be taken to court. I am concerned how this will affect my credit rating and whether debtors will be able to take items from my home to settle his debt.

He was staying with my mum up until recently and she had received letters about his debts at her home too. She even had bailiffs seize a television to cover some of his owings.

How can I find out if his debts are associated with my address, and will all this affect my credit rating?

KB/Cheshire

Answer

Credit ratings are attached to people rather than addresses so the only way your credit rating might be affected by your brother’s debts is if you have a financial connection with him, such as a joint bank account, or you have entered into any joint credit agreements with him. Otherwise, your brother’s debts should not affect your credit rating.

You can check your own credit report by contacting any of the three major credit agencies - Experian, Equifax or Callcredit. If the situation becomes so serious that bailiffs are involved they will almost certainly come to your home if that was the contact address given by your brother to his creditors.

Although bailiffs should only seize property belonging to the debtor, you may be asked to prove that the property in your home belongs to you and not your brother.

This could be a worrying situation to be in. However, bailiffs have to follow certain rules for gaining entry to a person’s home and taking possessions and the debtor has other rights with regard to what property can and can’t be taken to settle debts.

To try to avoid this situation escalating and your brother being dragged down by his debts, you should encourage him to face up to the problem and seek help from organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or National Debtline (nationaldebtline.co.uk).

Both will be able to give your brother free, confi dential and impartial advice on how to tackle his debts and deal with the companies he owes money to. The worst thing he could do is bury his head in the sand.

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