The difference between defaults and serious credit infringements

Both can have a negative impact on your credit score, but what's the difference between the two?

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If you do not pay off a debt on time, you risk having a default listed on your credit history. If a creditor is unable to contact you and your debt remains unpaid, your default can turn into a serious credit infringement. Both of these have a negative impact on your credit score and can hurt your chances of approval when applying for lines of credit in the future.

You can use this guide to learn more about the differences between defaults and serious credit infringements. Plus, you can pick up some tips to avoid both and keep your financial history in good standing.

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What is the difference?

Both defaults and serious credit infringements can lower your credit score and decrease your chances of approval when applying for future lines of credit. You can learn about what each term means, how they're different and how they can impact your financial history below:

What is a default?

A default refers to an overdue debt that's worth $150 or more. It must be overdue for at least 60 days before a creditor can list it as a default. This includes overdue payments to lenders such as telco providers and credit card issuers. Defaults remain on your credit report for five years, even after you've paid the overdue amount. These are considered negative marks which could hurt your credit score and decrease your chance of approval for future lines of credit.

The credit provider must send two separate written notices to your last known address and request payment before they can list the default with a credit reporting bureau. This is why it's important to keep your contact details up to date and inform your credit issuer if they do change.

What is a serious credit infringement?

A default transitions to a serious credit infringement if you fail to pay your overdue debts and your credit provider suspects that you've left your last known address without providing your new contact details. Serious infringements are listed on your credit report if the lender has attempted contact several times and you haven't paid your overdue amount or may contact within six months.

Consumer serious credit infringements stay on your report for seven years. If you pay it, it will revert to a default and remain on your report for five years. However, the evidence of your overdue account and repayment will remain in your credit history. Serious credit infringements can also lower your credit score and send negative signals to potential lenders in the future.

How can I avoid a serious credit infringement or default?

As defaults and serious credit infringements remain on your credit report for years, it's best to avoid them in the first place. Here are some easy tips to remember to dodge a default or credit infringement:

  • Update your contact details. If you move house, log in to your online account or contact your credit issuer as soon as possible to update your account details. That way you won't miss any late payment notifications.
  • Set up automatic repayments. You can create automatic payments from your debit account to your accounts so that you never miss a payment.
  • Discuss financial hardship options. If you have overdue accounts because you're struggling to pay your bills, you can contact your credit card issuer to discuss alternative payment options. This could include extended payment periods or instalments.

What if I already have serious credit infringements? Can I improve my credit history?

If you already have a default or serious credit infringement, you can still adopt money behaviours to improve your score. This includes simple strategies including consolidating multiple debts, reducing your credit limits and making future payments on time.

If you've ordered a copy of your credit report and spotted false defaults or credit infringements, you can contact the credit reporting bureau to request that they're removed. You can also get help from a credit repair agency to have these illegitimate black marks removed from your credit history.

You can see Finder's guide to credit repair for more tips.


Both defaults and serious credit infringements can have a negative impact on your credit score and remain on your report for years. As both can be avoided, make sure to keep your contact details up to date and reach out to your credit issuer if you're struggling to repay your loan.

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18 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    DaveJuly 18, 2019

    Hi, I am coming out of bankruptcy in December and was wondering if my credit score will slowly rise from then (as I would be discharged) or would it remain flat lining until the 5 years reporting period is up. Thank You.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      NikkiJuly 19, 2019Staff

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for getting in touch! It’s great to know that you are about to be discharged from bankruptcy. First of all, since you entered into bankruptcy, this listing will be removed from your file 2 years from the date you’re discharged or 5 years from the date you became bankrupt, whichever is later.

      While bankruptcy can affect your score negatively, it will not make your score to remain flat until 5 years is served as credit scores change all the time. Your score can still go up if you will demonstrate positive behaviors in your file such as you make on-time payments to your bills. Having no records of credit inquiries can also help lift the score.

      You can do a credit repair after bankruptcy and the ways to do it is explained here.

      Hope this helps! For any further questions, feel free to reach out to us again, we’re here to help.

      Best,
      Nikki

  2. Default Gravatar
    TracyMarch 25, 2019

    I just want people to know that if your debt is six years old it is no longer enforceable by law it is Statute Barred and should be removed. I had a default listed in 2016 for a debt incurred in 2007. This should never have been listed legally. So find out dates of any debt and especially watch the debt collection agencies. Also before you pay a default negotiate to have it removed from your file altogether with who listed you.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MaiMarch 26, 2019Staff

      Hi Tracy,

      Thank you for leaving some comments as you cross Finder’s page on defaults and serious credit infringements.

      We appreciate your feedback and additional information on the topic. Hope that you also find our article useful.

      ​Please feel free to contact us back should you require further assistance.

      Kind Regards,
      Mai

  3. Default Gravatar
    CorrieJanuary 28, 2019

    Why is my score so low? I have one default which was two years ago and which has now been payed in full. I currently have two car loans with two different financial institutions and have never missed or been late with a payment. I also own my house outright yet somehow can’t borrow $10,000 for a personal loan as my credit report is terrible.

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniJanuary 30, 2019Staff

      Hi Corrie,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      Sorry to hear your trouble on getting a personal loan due to low credit score.

      You may use this page as guide on how to remove black marks from your credit report. There are ways to improve your credit position through credit repair. You can do this yourself or through a credit repair company

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  4. Default Gravatar
    michaelNovember 12, 2018

    How is my score increased above 800?

    • Default Gravatar
      JoelNovember 13, 2018

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      Due to the amount of information that’s used to calculate your credit score, it’s easy to see how your score can fluctuate.

      Here’s why you might see a bump upwards in your score:

      – A negative listing is expired or old. Information is only held on your credit report for a certain length of time, so when a negative listing is removed from your credit report, your credit score should increase.
      – You changed your credit limit. Requesting or receiving an increased limit on your credit card can positively impact your credit score because you have more available credit at your fingertips. However, you might see an initial drop because of the request, but if approved your score will typically shoot back up. Credit increase requests should be limited to every two to three years.
      – Older accounts. The longer you’ve had a credit account, the better your score will be because the length of your credit history is always aging. The amount of time you’ve had your credit accounts open for represents about 15% of your credit score.
      – Diversifying your credit. When you responsibly manage different types of accounts — home loan, personal loan and credit cards — it broadens the financial diversity of your credit history and may improve your score.
      – Managing your credit. By making on time payments, paying your due balance in full each month and not irresponsibly using your credit, you’ll likely see your credit score go up — but be patient, it takes time.

      Please send me a message if you need anything else. :)

      Cheers,
      Joel

  5. Default Gravatar
    monicaOctober 29, 2018

    How do I find out how much I owe

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JohnOctober 29, 2018Staff

      Hi Monica,

      Thank you for leaving a question.

      If you wish to check on how much you owe, you may need to reach out to the different creditors who are reporting through your credit report. Your free credit report will provide a this list as well as the more information pertaining to your creditors. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

  6. Default Gravatar
    DannyAugust 14, 2018

    Hi I moved an didn’t get my electricity and gas bills 4 years ago went for a personal loan only to find out I have 36 defaults on my credit file from a debt collector for the 2 bills who do I call to get help I feel 36 defaults for 2 bills is a bit excessive

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaAugust 26, 2018Staff

      Hi Danny,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      You may want to directly get in touch with the debt collector for the 2 bills you haven’t settled yet. From there, you can discuss what you need to do to get those defaults removed.

      However, please note that defaults can remain on your credit history for five years from the date they are listed.

      We have a guide on how to remove defaults. On that guide, you will read this:

      Since the law surrounding credit reporting is complex and, in practice, not stringently enforced, lenders sometimes list defaults or missed payments without proper legal adherence. The first step in all cases is to request that a listing be removed from the credit bureau or credit provider directly. If this fails, you also have the option of enlisting the help of a credit report agency.

      If you need more help, please speak to a credit report expert.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  7. Default Gravatar
    FrankJuly 21, 2018

    I have a credit score which says Fair..is that good or not.and also a default of $150 but I can’t remember where to pay so i can have a clean default

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoanneJuly 21, 2018Staff

      Hi Frank,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Generally a fair credit score would mean having an average score that is neither good or bad. There are ways to continuously improve your credit score for you to get a good to excellent score. Checking this guide will take you through what affects your score, what your Experian credit score means and a few ways to improve it.

      Your credit file should enlist the number of defaults, company you defaulted on, type of account, etc. The credit provider will list the following information on your credit file in relation to your default:

      *The credit provider and the type of account it was
      *The amount listed as a default
      *The date the listing is due to come off your report

      This guide will take you through what type of accounts you can default on, the different types of defaults that exist, how default listings can change on your file and everything else you need to know about these listings in this guide.

      Cheers,
      Joanne

  8. Default Gravatar
    KimJuly 17, 2018

    I have done a credit score. And has come up weak. I have had a phone bill in my name along time ago, which has since been paid for in full on the 2.7.2018. I am trying to buy a new car and find myself jumping through hoops because of this debt. What is my next step for help please.

  9. Default Gravatar
    sally-annJanuary 18, 2017

    my score is much worst than i thought,i don’t have any bills i haven’t paid,but i am late paying sometimes could this be why??

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      DeeJanuary 18, 2017Staff

      Hi Sawatson,

      Thanks for your question.

      There are different factors that can affect your credit score. For more information on this, you can refer to our guide here.

      If you’d like to know the full details of your credit score, you can request a free credit report from Veda through this page.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

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