Credit agreements - getting information
This fact sheet covers England & Wales. We also have a version for Scotland if you need it.
Use this fact sheet to help you to:
get a copy of your credit agreement and information about your account for £1;
get a statement showing the instalments that you still owe, as well as any arrears; and
make a request for details of the personal information an organisation holds about you.
The sample letters mentioned in this fact sheet can be filled in on our website.
My rights to information
You have rights to ask for personal information from creditors and other organisations because of two laws:
the Data Protection Act 2018; and
the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
The kind of information that you can get is different under each law.
The Data Protection Act gives you the right to access personal information held by the organisation about you.
The Consumer Credit Act gives you the right to ask for a copy of your credit agreement and statements of your account.
Under the Consumer Credit Act, you have the right to ask a creditor for a copy of your agreement and a statement of your account only if you still owe them money on the account. If you have paid your debt in full, or if your lender has taken court action, you may not have these rights.
How much will it cost?
Data protection Act requests
Organisations cannot charge for sending you personal information under the Data Protection Act as long as your request is reasonable. For example, your request may not be reasonable if you are asking them to provide information that they have already recently given to you.
You can make very specific requests or make more general ones. For example, you could ask for a copy of a particular letter or email. Alternatively, you could ask for copies of all the letters and emails that they have sent to you. You could even just ask for a copy of all of the information that they hold about you. Remember, in some cases this may mean that you receive a large amount of information back from them. This might make it harder to find any specific information you are looking for.
Use this sample letter to ask for specific information about you which may be held by a creditor, or a public organisation like your local council. Alternatively, you might want to check what information the creditor holds about you (such as a record of a phone call) and how they may have used this to make decisions about you.
Consumer Credit Act requests
The fee for asking for a copy of your agreement and statement of account under sections 77, 78 and 79 of the Consumer Credit Act is £1. There is no fee if you ask for a statement of your account under section 77b of the Consumer Credit Act.
There are two sample letters which you can use to get different kinds of information.
Use this sample letter to ask for a copy of your agreement and related documents, together with a statement of your account from a creditor. You might need to use this letter if you have lost your original agreement and want to check the terms and conditions such as the interest rate, the amount of credit and the total number of payments. You might want a statement of account to check what the creditor thinks you have paid on the account and when. Use sections 77, 78 and 79 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 to make this request.
Use this sample letter to ask for a statement of your account which shows what you have to pay in the future, including any missed payments. You can only use this letter if your agreement is for a fixed amount of credit, the debt is not secured on property and you pay it by instalments. Use section 77b of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 to make this request.
What information should I receive?
You will get different information back, depending on which sample letter you use.
Data Protection Act request
You should get the information that you have asked for. Make sure that you are clear about the information that you want. If you are not clear, the creditor may send you too much information, which you may find unhelpful. If the information is difficult to understand, the creditor should send you a guide to help you make sense of it. If you asked for details of any decision that the creditor made about you, you should be sent an explanation of how they made that decision.
Consumer Credit Act request under sections 77, 78 and 79
You should be sent a ‘true copy’ of your agreement that is easy to read and a statement of your account signed by your creditor. The ‘true copy’ must contain all the terms and conditions from your original agreement, information about any changes made to the agreement and your name and address at the time that you took out the agreement. It does not have to include a signature box, signature or the date of signature from your original agreement.
The statement of account should be signed by the creditor and tell you:
how much you have paid (if you borrowed a fixed amount);
how much you still owe; and
what you still have to pay and when.
The creditor does not reply to your Data Protection Act request
If the organisation does not send you the information that you requested within one month, you could send a reminder by recorded delivery. If you still do not receive a reply, you can report a concern to the Information Commissioner. If the Information Commissioner thinks that the law has been broken, they might tell the company to follow the rules. In serious cases, the Information Commissioner can send the organisation an enforcement notice to force them to send you the information. See the later section Useful contacts.
Getting information under the Data Protection Act
Organisations have to send you the information you ask for under the Data Protection Act, even if they have started court action.
The creditor does not reply to your Consumer Credit Act request under sections 77, 78 and 79
If the creditor does not send you a copy of your agreement and a statement of account within 12 working days, then they are not allowed to take further action against you to enforce the agreement in the court until they do so.
If there never was any written agreement, the creditor cannot send you a copy. If this is the case, the creditor should tell you. But, if the creditor has simply lost your agreement, they must provide a ‘true copy’ with the same details.
In the meantime, the creditor cannot:
make you pay off your debt before you’re supposed to;
get a court judgment against you; or
take back anything you've hired or bought on credit, or take anything you used as security (like your house) when you took out the agreement.
However, they can still:
ask you to pay what you owe;
send you a letter called a ‘default notice’ if you miss any payments;
pass your information on to a credit reference agency (which might affect your credit record);
pass your information on to a debt collector;
sell your debt to someone else; or
take your case to court, although they won’t be able to get a court judgment against you unless they give you the information you’re entitled to.
If the creditor has not done what they should have following your request, your debt still exists. If you don’t arrange to pay, the creditor may add interest and other charges, if the terms of the agreement allow them to.
You can make sure that the creditor does not go any further with the court judgment by asking the court to stop the action. You should ask for a 'pause' until they have met the Consumer Credit Act requirements. Contact us for advice if you want to do this.
If your creditor complies
If the creditor sends you a copy of your agreement and statement of account at any time after you have requested them, then the creditor can start or continue court action against you to recover the debt.
Another company has bought the debt
If the original creditor has sold the debt on to another company, the new company becomes the ‘creditor’ and must deal with your request. If the new company does not agree to do this, they should tell you who can give you the information, or pass your request on to the original creditor themselves.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)
If you think that the new company has not behaved as they should, you can make a complaint to the FOS. You will have to follow the company’s complaints procedure first. You can only complain to the FOS about events that happened from April 2007 onwards. See the later section Useful contacts.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
The FCA has published detailed advice on how creditors should act in the Consumer Credit sourcebook (CONC) . See the later section Useful contacts.
Time limits for recovering debt
The Limitation Act 1980 sets out the rules on how long a creditor has to take certain action against you to recover a debt. Limitation periods for debts are important, because if the creditor has run out of time, you may not have to pay the debt back.
If you write to a creditor, this may restart the limitation period, depending on what you say. If you think a limitation period may apply soon, contact us for advice before writing to your creditor. For more information, see our Statute barred debts fact sheet.
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Regulator for financial services such as banks and credit companies, insurance companies and mortgage lenders. Phone: 0800 111 6768 www.fca.org.uk
Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) For complaints about banks and other creditors Phone: 0800 023 4567 www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
The Information Commissioner's Office Phone: 0303 123 1113 www.ico.org.uk