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Navigating the murky waters of debt relief? Staying away from IVA companies that give you unrealistic expectations is crucial. This is why it’s important that you know which IVA companies you should avoid in 2023. In this article, we will give you guidance on how you can do this. 

So keep reading and don’t miss out. 

Warren Marshall
Last updated on 19 September 2023
Fact Checked

Table of Contents

1. What is an IVA?
2. How Do IVA Companies Work?
3. How Do I Choose an IVA Company for Myself and Identify IVA Companies to Avoid?
4. IVA Companies to Avoid
5. How Do You Complain About an IVA Company?
6. Best IVA Companies in 2023
7. Are There Alternatives to IVAs?
8. Who Can Advise Me?
9. Key Points
10. FAQ


An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) often stands as a highly wise choice for addressing debt issues among many individuals.

IVA firms assume a vital role in guiding you through the complete procedure, and their involvement can significantly influence whether your IVA succeeds or falters.

In this discussion, we will explore methods to identify subpar IVA companies and underscore the compelling reasons for steering clear of such entities.

What is an IVA?

An IVA is a legally binding agreement between your creditors and you. And it guarantees that you will pay a portion of the debt that you can afford every month to your creditors. This agreement usually lasts for 5 to 6 years. After this period, any debt that’s left will be written off. 

IVAs represent an excellent method for managing your debt, as they safeguard your assets and offer remarkable flexibility. This is due to the responsibility of your insolvency practitioner (IP) to ensure that your payments never exceed your financial capacity. It can be a highly effective approach to debt management.

How Do IVA Companies Work?

Before you know which IVA companies to avoid, you should first know how any IVA company works. So an IVA company can help you navigate the treacherous waters of debt? They do more than just fill out forms and discuss your debt with the people you owe money to. 

The Role of an IVA Company

An IVA company acts like your financial lifesaver. They carefully guide you during the process of taking an IVA. This includes:

1. Initial contact: Firstly, to properly get an understanding of your financial circumstances.
2. Plan Proposal: Then, they create a tailor-made plan just for you.
3. Creditor Negotiations: Next, they chat with your creditors and aim for agreeable terms.
4. Implementation: Finally, they help you stick to the plan.
IVA Form and Application Process

If you want to get an IVA, the first thing you should do is fill out an IVA application form. This document is very straightforward. It discusses all your details, such as:

  • Monthly income
  • Expenses
  • How much you owe

The reason why this form is very important is because it is the first step toward financial freedom or financial doom if you’re dealing with one of those IVA companies to avoid.

If you want to apply for an IVA, the process is not that tough. Even though it’s not tough, you should be very cautious when applying for an IVA. So this is what you should do if you want to apply for an IVA:

1. Gather data on finances: Collect all your financial information, such as:
  • Bills
  • Pay stubs
  • Debt-related documents. 
2. Complete the IVA Form: Filling it out usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
3. Submit and Wait: Once submitted, your IVA Company reviews the form and starts the ball rolling with creditors.
Picking the Right One: Why it’s important to know which IVA companies to avoid

Knowing which IVA companies to avoid is crucial. Many people assume that if they fill out the IVA form well, there’s nothing else to worry about. However, remember that the effectiveness of an IVA depends not just on you but also on the competency of the company you choose.

Watch out for these red flags:

  • Upfront Fees: Any IVA company asking for fees before doing anything is a no-no.
  • Unclear Communication: If you can’t get straight answers, run for the hills.
  • Bad Vibes: You know that gut feeling when something’s off? Listen to it.

And oh, just a heads up, we’re about to delve deeper into those shady IVA companies to avoid in the next section. Curious? You should be.

So, Are All IVA Companies the Same?

Absolutely not! While many companies claim to offer you a lifeline, some are more like anchors, pulling you down further into debt. Hence, knowing the IVA companies to avoid is just as important as knowing the reliable ones.

Curious about how to spot the good from the bad? Stick around. In the next section, we’ll pull the curtain back on the types of IVA companies you should steer clear of.

How Do I Choose an IVA Company for Myself and Identify IVA Companies to Avoid? 

Feeling overwhelmed about which IVA companies to avoid? Relax! You don’t have to stress out on how tough it seems. But keep in mind that all IVA companies are not the same. So this is where you need to be careful. 

Why? Because choosing the wrong one could make your debt situation even worse.

Understand Your Needs First

Before you even think about companies, ponder over your own needs.

  • Debt Amount: How much debt do you owe?
  • Monthly Budget: What can you realistically pay back each month?
  • Type of Debt: Is your debt primarily from credit cards, loans, or something else?

Why are we starting here? Well, knowing yourself makes it easier to spot a company that’s a good fit—or a total misfit.

What to Look for in an IVA Company

Once you know your needs, start scrutinising IVA companies. Here’s what you need to keep an eye on:

  • Transparency: Do they clearly list their fees and terms?
  • Customer Reviews: What are other people saying about them?
  • Expertise: How experienced are they in handling cases similar to yours?
The Importance of Customer Reviews

You might think, “Oh, I’ll just check a couple of reviews and call it a day.” Big mistake! Customer reviews can be a goldmine of information. And guess what? They can point you directly to the IVA companies to avoid, and they are a major red flag that helps detect the worst IVA companies. 

How to Apply for an IVA: The Process

Remember the IVA form we talked about? Once you’ve shortlisted a few good companies, you’ll need to fill out an IVA form for the one you choose. How to apply for an IVA? Just like before, gather your financial documents, fill in the details, and wait.

Double-Check, Then Triple-Check

By now, you’ve got your shortlist, read the reviews, and maybe even filled out an IVA form. But don’t rest on your laurels yet. Why? Because you still need to double-check and even triple-check the company’s reputation and reviews.

Final Words: Always Go With Your Gut

No amount of research can substitute for that gut feeling. If something feels off, it probably is. Don’t ignore those warning bells because they might just be directing you away from the IVA companies to avoid.

So, are you ready to find out which IVA companies you should absolutely avoid? Stay tuned because it’s about to get real.

IVA Companies to Avoid

So, you’re keen on an IVA to solve your debt issues? Great choice, but wait a minute. Knowing which IVA companies to avoid is crucial. The company you choose can either make or break your financial future. 

Eager to steer clear of the landmines? Make sure to keep an eye out for these signs to quickly identify the worst IVA companies. 

Lack of Transparency: The Invisible Trap

You might think you’re getting a fantastic deal, but what if they’re hiding the truth? Transparency is a cornerstone of any reputable IVA company. If they’re hush-hush about fees, interest rates, and charges, it’s time to run for the hills. 

Wondering how you’ll recognise this red flag? We’re about to reveal the secrets.

Bad Reviews: Listen to the Voices

You probably read reviews before trying a new restaurant. Why should choosing an IVA company be any different? Bad reviews are more than a red flag; they’re a blaring siren that helps detect some of the worst IVA companies. 

What if your case becomes another bad review? So think wisely and don’t dismiss the red flags. 

Hidden Costs: The Financial Times Bomb

After reading the IVA form, always pause to identify any suspicious costs. Hidden costs could be lurking in the fine print, waiting to explode your financial life. How can you spot them before it’s too late? The answer may shock you.

Don’t Be the Next Victim

In a case where you realise too late that you’ve signed with an IVA company that you should have avoided in the first place, there is still a way out. Making a complaint against the company is the best solution for this.

How Do You Complain About an IVA Company?

Knowing which IVA companies to avoid is crucial, but if you want to make a complaint against them, the first thing you should do is talk to your insolvency practitioner (IP). They will then give you advice on what they believe is the best decision for you during this situation. They will also amend your IVA terms if they think it is appropriate. 

It is also a good idea to make a complaint through a letter or an email instead of over the phone; this is because it will help you to have proof of the complaint you made against them. 

If you are still not satisfied with the response you got from your IP, you can make a direct complaint to the Insolvency Service. They will then carefully read your complaint and then discuss this with your IP’s registered organisation. 

In a case where even directly complaining to the Insolvency Service is not helpful, you can directly make a complaint to GOV.UK. If you were advised to get an IVA by a debt management company, and if now you feel like it was bad advice, you can complain to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

Always keep in mind that every debt management company is supposed to follow the rules of the Financial Conduct Authority. So this means they have to give you good advice to suit your financial situation. But if you feel like the debt management company didn’t give you advice that suits you or your situation, make a complaint. 

And if you feel unsatisfied with the way they handle your case, directly complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). But remember that they will only get involved if you have given your IP sufficient time to solve the matter and get back to you. 

Best IVA Companies in 2023

Among all this information on which IVA companies to avoid, don’t forget that there are good IVA companies too that focus on your best interest. With all these potential pitfalls, finding a reliable IVA company may seem daunting. But don’t worry. Trustworthy companies usually have:

  • Transparent Fees: No hidden charges here!
  • High Customer Ratings: They’re loved for a reason.
  • Range of Services: Beyond IVAs, they can offer other debt solutions.

Below is a list of IVA companies that operate in the UK in 2023.

1. Astute Financial
2. PayPlan
3. Financial Wellness Group
4. Begbies Traynor Group
5. Bennett Jones
6. Forest King
7. StepChange

Are There Alternatives to IVAs?

Not everyone is suited for an IVA. Thankfully, there exists a variety of alternative debt solutions.

Debt Management Plans (DMPs): A Less Binding Option

If you don’t like an IVA because it is legally binding, then a Debt Management Plan (DMP) is more suitable for you. Because, unlike an IVA, a DMP is not legally binding. So many people prefer this option.

Bankruptcy: A Last Resort

When someone says bankruptcy, many people start to feel concerned and worried. But in some situations, this is actually a smart option. A bankruptcy helps to discharge all your debt and helps you to have a fresh start. 

However, the impact of bankruptcy on your credit report lasts for a long time. So choose this option carefully. 

Informal Arrangements: The DIY Approach

No, we’re not suggesting you manage your debts like a weekend DIY project. But informal arrangements with your creditors are, indeed, possible. However, this option might not help for some people. But for others, it can work out better than they expect. 

Debt Relief Orders: A Hidden Gem?

A Debt Relief Order (DRO) could be your secret weapon against debt. Think of it as the less-known cousin of an IVA. Got low income and assets? Then this option is for you. 

The Final Verdict: Choice is King

Remember, the best solution depends on your unique situation. Do your homework and consult a debt advisor. Why? Making the wrong choice will make things worse for you. 

So, which option do you want to go with? Or is an IVA the way to go? The choice is yours. 

Who Can Advise Me?

Aside from IVA companies, you can seek advice from debt charities and financial advisors. Whether you’re trying to figure out how to apply for an IVA or exploring other avenues, they can offer you tailored advice. 

Intrigued? You should be because the journey to financial freedom is within reach. Some debt charities where you can get free debt advice include:

  • National debtline
  • StepChange
  • Citizens Advice 

Key Points

  • Keep an eye out for these signs to identify some of the worst IVA companies:
  • a. Unrealistic claims: A reputable IVA company will give you a realistic view of what to expect.
    b. High failure rates: A high number of IVAs failing should be a red flag.
    c. Bad reviews: don’t ignore negative reviews. They often tell more about the company than you think.
  • If you’re dealing with unmanageable debts, you’re not alone. Many people in the UK could legally write off some of their debt through an IVA or using alternative debt solutions. However, the company you choose plays a significant role in this.
  • If you choose a good IVA company, it will ease a lot of your burdens. So always look out for the signs.
  • Before diving into an IVA, consult independent debt charities like Stepchange and National Debtline. They can give you impartial advice on whether an IVA is the right solution for you.
  • Be aware that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has shut down five firms for pushing vulnerable customers towards insolvency due to conflicts of interest. Always check if the IVA company you’re considering is FCA-approved.
  • You have one shot at choosing the right IVA company, so take your time. Thoroughly compare options, ask plenty of questions, and consider all the red flags and recommendations. Your financial stability depends on it.


Why Should I Avoid Certain IVA Companies?

Some IVA companies make unrealistic promises, have high failure rates, or have amassed a host of negative reviews. This could lead you to more financial strain rather than relief.

Are There Any Reliable Sources to Check Reviews for IVA Companies?

Yes, you can check websites like Trustpilot or consult independent debt charities like Stepchange and National Debtline for advice.

What Happens If I Choose a Bad IVA Company?

Choosing the wrong company can result in increased financial strain, higher costs, and a longer path to becoming debt-free.

Are There Alternatives to IVAs?

Yes, options like Debt Management Plans and bankruptcy are available, but they come with their own sets of pros and cons.

How Can I Complain About an IVA Company?

If you believe you’ve been wronged, you can file a complaint with bodies such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or the Insolvency Practitioners Association.

What are Some Reputable IVA Companies?

While it’s crucial to do your own research, some well-reviewed companies are Aperture, StepChange, and Creditfix.

Who Can Advise Me on Choosing an IVA Company?

Independent debt charities like Stepchange and financial advisors can provide unbiased advice to help you make an informed decision.

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