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Research Shows 70% of People Think “Bad Credit” is Worse Than It Is

Published: 22 February 2016

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Author: Carl Shave - CEO and co-founder
Last updated: 16Jul2024

Here at Just, one of the phrases we hear most frequently is “you probably won’t be able to help me, but…”. Most people who consider themselves as having “bad” or “adverse” credit have often been denied by high street lenders and are usually feeling pretty pessimistic about their chances.

This feeling isn’t helped by the general lack of understanding of credit, credit scores and credit history. The real question here is how severe are bad credit “black marks”, and once you have one, can you ever borrow again? We suspected people wouldn’t know the answer to this question, so we conducted some research to see if we could find a general consensus around bad credit “black marks”.

What Do We Know About “Bad Credit”? The Research

We created a survey asking over 500 people how long they thought missed mortgage payments, CCJs and IVAs would be remembered on your credit file. We expected people would be less than optimistic about anything “bad”, but we were surprised at just how negative the feeling was. This couldn’t be any clearer than the following:

Download Chart Here

Not only this, but we found that 70% of people think credit “black marks” are worse than they actually are!

When splitting the results for men and women, we actually see two things. Firstly, female respondents generally have a better understanding of how long credit black marks last. Secondly, and more interestingly, male respondents were consistently more pessimistic with their responses throughout.


31% of women knew the correct answers, only 24% of men did

66% of women think bad credit is worse & 73% of men thinking it is


How Long Do Missed Mortgage Payments Take to Be Forgotten?

Download Chart Here

The first of our surveys referred to missed mortgage payments. A missed mortgage payment is pretty serious, particularly on such an important payment schedule – something those surveyed knew. However, 51% of people thought a missed payment never leaves your credit file, when in fact, it only takes 6 years to be forgotten from your credit history. Only 26% of respondents knew that.

65% think a missed mortgage payment is worse than it is


How Long Do CCJs Stay on Your Credit File?

We then asked respondents for their thoughts on County Court Judgments or CCJs. A County Court Judgment refers to a court summons received by an individual with an outstanding debt. Once again, the understanding of CCJ implications was more drastic than we expected.

Download Chart Here

71% of people don’t know how long a CCJ takes to be forgotten

As with missed mortgage payments, those with a CCJ only have to wait 6 years for it to leave their credit history. 40% of respondents thought a CCJ never leaves your credit history.

38% of women knew the right answer, but only 23% of men did

71% of men think a CCJ is worse than it is, opposed to 56% of women


How Long Do I need to Worry About an IVA?

An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is an agreement made with your creditors to pay all or part of your debts. An IVA stays on your credit file for exactly 6 years from the day it starts. Most IVAs last 5 years, so essentially, it only stays on your credit report for 12 months after it ends. Our survey discovered that 69% of people think an IVA is worse than it actually is, with 20% of respondents thinking an IVA takes 15 years to be removed from your credit report.

Download Chart Here

20% of respondents think an IVA takes 15 years to be forgotten

69% of respondents think an IVA lasts longer than it actually does


Our results show a similarly gloomy opinion of the implications of an IVA. Perhaps less surprising than the other answers, given how severe it is financially, but the perception is still far worse than reality.

The Infographic – we’ve created an infographic to highlight how people’s perceptions are so different from reality


It’s Not As Bad As You Think

The key message to take away from our research is that black marks on your credit score are simply not as bad as people think. While 6 years is a long time (we can’t recommend enough that you plan your finances and act responsibly), if you’re having financial difficulties and they result in a bad or adverse credit rating, it’s not the end of the world.

What many don’t realise is that even with these black marks on your credit file it is still possible to gain credit with the right advice and expertise. 

With sensible money management and specific credit repair steps, bad credit can be put in the past and your finances can be pulled back on track. To discuss your credit score/history with the Just team, contact one of our expert advisers today.