If you’re unsure whether you have any outstanding payday loans against your name, it can be a bit tricky to identify who they were taken out with, whether any balances have been transferred to another company, and exactly what the amount remaining to be paid actually is. The information is out there; however, you just need to know where to look.
Many people had problems with payday loans that were taken out prior to 2015. This was before strict new rules were introduced about how the short-term lending industry works. A lot of companies exited the market shortly after this time, leaving a somewhat muddied trail regarding what happened to their remaining loans.
Borrowers may wish to track down the details of outstanding balances to take steps to improve their credit score. Plus, many people have lodged complaints about historical payday loans and how they were granted and managed by providers. If you want to make a claim about a past short-term credit facility, you may need to identify exactly who you took out loans with, when, how much for, and what payments were made against the balance in order to do so.
Take these three steps to identify what payday loans you have outstanding.
Check a list of lenders
It can be difficult to identify the name and contact details of the lender with whom you took out a payday loan, even more so if it was a little while ago. Companies may have changed their name, address, or ownership structure, or they may have simply gone out of business.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) does have a searchable register of authorised loan providers. However, if you can’t recall the name of the lender or much about them, it may be difficult to use this facility.
To help you search for a payday loan company, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of direct lenders in the UK. You should note that the list only includes direct lenders and so does not list payday loan brokers. Brokers are firms that work with a panel of direct lenders to match you with a loan provider. Your loan paperwork was likely to be taken out with the lender and not the broker.
As you may know, a number of payday loan companies have exited the market in recent years, particularly after the rule changes in early 2015. We also have a list of payday loan lenders who have gone bust to help you to locate a company that no longer operates.
On our lists, you’ll find the company’s name behind the payday loan provider, plus you may be able to identify the brand identities that the lenders operated under. Some firms traded as different names, and some had more than one name, plus associated websites, that they offered loans under.
There may be legacy arrangements in place for you to lodge a complaint about such operators, for example, if their affairs are being handled by administrators or insolvency practitioners.
Take a look at your credit report
Your current credit report should contain information on all loans taken out in the last six years. Credit reports are not always completely up to date or totally accurate in identifying historical activity, however.
Until the last few years, a number of payday loan lenders did not report loans to the credit reference agencies, so you might not be able to identify short-term lending products that you took out a little while ago. Indeed, until the regulations were reviewed, some did not even check a potential borrower’s credit history, so there may be little trace of them on your credit history. Such payday loans with no credit check are no longer permitted.
There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK that provide access to credit reports for consumers. They are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can access the information they hold on you by following the links on their websites.
Each of these companies gathers, stores and processes information from different sources at different times and applies their own credit scoring methods. This means you might have to check more than one to gain a full picture of payday loans that you have taken out.
Also, after the 2015 shakeup of payday loan lending rules, a lot of outstanding balances were written off or sold to a debt collection agency. This means that you may notice historical loans showing zero credit owed. If the balance has been sold on and you wish to make a complaint about the loan (say, because you can demonstrate you could not afford to repay it), you would still do so against the lender that authorised the product and not the debt collector.
Go through your bank statements
The most complete record of payday loans that you have had may well be your bank records. Individual banks tend to vary as to how far back you can access statements and transaction information via their online banking platforms. You should be able to go back further by requesting paper statements, and there should be no charge should you be asking for a copy of them for the first time.
You may need to submit a Subject Access Request to view historical bank statements that are from some time ago. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is an independent body that governs information rights and privacy rights in the UK. The ICO has published guidance on how to make a Subject Access Request.
In summary, it can be a little bit laborious to find out what payday loans you have taken out in the past and to find out if any payday loans are outstanding. The regulatory changes to short-term lending that took effect from 2015 should mean the industry is much fairer, easier to deal with, transparent and accountable for recent loans and ones you might take out in the future.