The Insolvency Service has launched an online version of its Individual Insolvency Register (IIR).
The service allows consumers and businesses to check whether a person is an undischarged bankrupt, the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order (BRO) or party to an individual voluntary arrangement.
According to Desmond Flynn, chief executive of The Insolvency Service, the IIR service allows members of the public to make informed decisions about potential business partners.
"The register will provide greater confidence in the marketplace helping to contribute to a modern insolvency regime that deals fairly and effectively with financial failure," he said in a statement.
The site will offer instant access to information about bankrupts, for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"The clear identification of those bankrupts against whom BROs are made will enable people to identify those whose financial failure was tainted by misconduct," Flynn said.
Previously, all searches had to be made in writing, by phone or fax or by calling in at an official receiver's office.
But Tony Price, managing director of online VAR WStore, said the online system would need to offer a more compelling reason to use it rather than the credit agencies.
"We already have credit checking facilities that work. When there are problems with fraud, the perpetrators tend to be more sophisticated, so a simple name check won't catch them," he said.
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