I used to be a member on here but drifted away and eventually lost my login details - so this is a new account.
I promised myself I'd write this, so here it is!
I entered my IVA in August 2013. At that time I felt pretty negative. I felt like I'd be trapped forever in my mortgaged house. Even after the IVA, surely the big "IVA" tattooed on my forehead (metaphorically) would forever see banks, building societies and financial institutions laugh in my face if I so much as approached them.
In August this year, my IVA finally dropped off the credit file and that my friends was a big turning point. For me, being desperate to move house, the completion certificate received quite some time ago was a small victory. I was so glad it was all over, but knew that IVA lurking on file would be a curse.
Well, take heart. I have just this month moved into my new house mortgaged by a major high-street bank to whom the IVA was disclosed to by my broker. They don't seem to mind as long as it's gone from the credit file. Interestingly, they are part of the same banking group as one of my creditors who was included in the IVA. Again this seemed to be no obstacle.
The agreement in principal was nice but the formal mortgage offer was something else to receive!
So don't dispair. Don't feel trapped and don't feel cursed forever. It will end, you will get there and it will be all over.
More importantly, once off the file, you really will leave it all behind you and you'd be amazed at the difference. Credit cards like Capital One would tell me, via their elegibility checker that I would not be accepted. Now, American Express tell me I'm "highly likely" to be approved.
Apart from keeping your chin up, my main advice would be to start fixing your credit file NOW. Don't imagine you have 5 years or so to sort it out. Act now, act fast and get it sorted. Complain loudly and persist. It is an uphill battle, but you don't want mistakes dragging your credit rating down long after the IVA has gone from file.
I waited and it was a big mistake, leading to a lot of stress trying to sort it out in a mad rush before applying for a mortgage. Here are my findings:
1 - The dispute mechanisms on websites like Noddle are OK but rather toothless. First port-of-call but don't expect much from them.
2 - They don't have a clue when you call. It is, in my experience, VERY difficult to find anyone that even understands what you're going on about and even harder to get through to someone who can help. This is where persistence is key. This is particularly difficult with Default Dates. Call centre staff genuinely do not understand what this is - I was asked once "when you keep saying default date, do you mean the credit card expiry date?"
3 - Social media posts. These sometimes get results. Complain loudly by Tweeting publicly to them. You often find they miraculously find you a phone number for someone who can help. Some ignore this route though.
4 - Don't bother writing. I wrote lots of letters and never received a single response. Not one. Emails are almost as bad. Too easy to ignore.
5 - Call. Repeatedly and persistently. Don't be fobbed off. You're often told that it will "update next month". They have a mechanism to do immediate updates, but the people you speak to often don't know or really seem to care. And it's not unusual to be told that they provided the correct information to the Credit Reference agency who must've made a mistake. This is simply not true. The Credit Reference do this as their main business so they are pretty good at getting it right.
6 - Use their official complaints process. They all have them. This can be sluggish but often gets attention by a dedicated case worker. In one situation they took a couple of weeks to respond, but when they did they apologised, told me they were issuing a high-priority update (which they did) and sent me £50 compensation.
7 - Speak to the Credit Reference agencies directly on the phone. I have found them to be helpful and engaging, often they can tell you that an update has been submitted and what it contains some weeks before it hits the credit file. Don't forget their business relies 100% on accurate data so they want it to be right. The banks on the other hand are far less bothered with a bad debtor's particulars. If you do deal with the agencies directly, remember they are on your side so work with them don't have a go at them.
8 - Lastly, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Sometimes you feel like unleashing a barrage of verbal fury at the dumb call centre worker who doesn't even seem to know what a credit file is. But, I've found that a pleasant, patient but persistent approach works best. Get angry and they just want to get rid of you.
Well I've rambled enough!
My final note is just a massive and sincere thanks to everyone on here who helped keep me sane throughout the IVA journey, which we all know can be fraught at times!
p.s. The 6 years, 2 months and 18 days was the time between my IVA being agreed at the first creditors' meeting to me picking up the keys to my new house