A Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filing, also known as a UCC lien, is a common practice for lenders who offer small business loans secured by collateral.
A UCC-1 filing places a lien on a borrower’s assets. Lenders file what is known as a UCC-1 financing statement to secure the funds they loan borrowers.
If you’re seeking funding for your business, a UCC filing could cause concern for potential lenders. Let’s go through the steps you’ll need to take to remove a UCC filing placed against your business.
Ways to Remove a UCC Lien
Once you pay your debt in full, you’ll want to make sure the UCC-1 is canceled.
Are you asking yourself, “How do I get rid of a UCC filing?” Here’s what you should do:
Contact Your Lender
According to the Uniform Commercial Code, Section 9-513, lenders should file a statement of termination within one month after borrowers satisfy their debt.
While you’d think a lender would automatically remove a UCC filing once you’ve repaid your debt, it doesn’t always work this way. As UCC filings generally lapse after 5 years, lenders often don’t submit a request to remove the lien.
Your recourse? Submit what’s known in the UCC as an “authenticated demand.” This is a signed request you send to the lender asking they terminate the UCC filing.
Be sure to list the name and address of the lender, as noted on your financing statement. After receiving your request, the lender has 20 days to terminate the UCC filing. Alternatively, they can send you the termination statement, which you can then file at your secretary of state’s office.
Request Termination of Lien
If you’ve contacted your lender and they haven’t complied with your termination request, you’re entitled to take action. Twenty days after you’ve notified your lender and received no response, you can file a request for termination yourself, referred to as a UCC-3.
On the UCC-3 form to request lien termination, there’s a box you can check off indicating the amendment is authorized by a debtor. You would also provide the name of the authorizing debtor, likely you.
UCC 1 vs. UCC 3 Filings
Lenders most often complete UCC filings on businesses, but in some cases, they might submit them on individuals. UCC-1 and UCC-3 filings are sent to the secretary of state office where the debtor is located, and they become a matter of public record. Let’s look at these two UCC filing types in more detail:
Lenders file UCC-1 liens upon initial loan offerings. The ability to file a UCC-1 reduces risk for lenders because their funds are secured should a borrower default.
There are 2 types of liens that lenders can file for when they submit a UCC-1:
A blanket lien is essentially an open lien against all of a business’s assets. If a business defaults, the lender can collect repayment by seizing and selling all of the company’s collateral if need be.
Lenders might confiscate such items as:
- Accounts receivable
- Land and buildings
Blanket liens typically are used with short-term loans that require collateral, conventional bank loans and loans backed by the Small Business Administration.
Some UCC-1 filings list one or more specific items as collateral, typically the items the business owner will purchase with the funding. Collateral-specific UCC filings might be submitted in conjunction with real estate or equipment financing.
A UCC-3 can be submitted for a few reasons, including UCC filing termination.
Either you or your lender will need to submit a UCC-3 to remove the initial filing record. If after 5 years, the lender wants to keep the lien active because you haven’t repaid your debt, they would request a continuation by filing a UCC-3.
A UCC-3 can also be filed to amend the original filing. Amendments can be made to the following:
- Party information (e.g., address changes, name changes)
UCC Filing Stats
According to October 2018 data released by the Pennsylvania Department of State, more than 133,000 UCC-1 and UCC-3 filings are submitted annually. To date, there were about 784,000 financing statements in the state’s database as of Oct. 1, 2018.
How to Find a UCC Filing
You might already know there’s a UCC filing attached to your business. In some cases, you might not.
For example, as part of the application process, a lender might complete a UCC-1 on your business in anticipation of offering you funding. Ultimately, you don’t borrow their funds or your application is denied. Surprisingly, the lender might not retract the UCC filing.
Find out if there’s a UCC filing in your business’s name by visiting the National Association of Secretaries of State’s website, which provides links to every state office. Some secretary of state websites allow you to complete an online search to access UCC filings, while others might require you to submit a search request in writing.
To complete your search online, you’ll need the debtor’s name, either the name of the business or the individual. You also could search by the UCC filing number, also referred to as the financing statement number.
Your search likely will return the following information:
- Filer’s name
- Debtor’s name and address
- Secured party’s name and address
- Filing type (e.g., initial, amendment-continuation)
- Filing date
- Filing lapse date
There typically is a charge to request a copy of the filing. Pennsylvania, for example, charges $3 per page for copies and $28 for certificates.
How to Dispute a UCC Filing on Your Credit Report
That said, once you’ve paid off your debt, request that the filing be removed from your credit report. A clean credit report can prevent lender questions from arising in the future should you need additional financing.
If your lender has submitted a UCC-3 to request termination of the UCC-1 filing, this may lead to credit reporting agencies removing the lien from your business’s credit report. This isn’t always the case, though.
As a result, be sure to monitor your credit report with major reporting agencies for businesses, including Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax. If your lender has submitted a UCC-3 to terminate your lien and it’s still on your business’s credit report, contact the credit reporting agency and request they remove the filing from your report.
Is a UCC Filing Bad for Your Business?
A UCC filing is considered standard practice in the lending world when debt is secured by collateral. That being said, a UCC filing can limit future financing options.
If you need to apply for credit again, especially credit that you’ll need to secure with assets, lenders will be wary and could deny you for additional financing.
Why? Liens are collected on in the order they were submitted. In other words, the first lender to put a lien on your collateral has first dibs. This means a subsequent lender will be in a second position to collect on your assets if you default, and so on with additional lenders. And there may be nothing left after the first lender has collected what was owed to them.
For that reason, lenders might consider it risky to lend money to a business with an existing UCC filing. A UCC filing also might prevent you from selling any assets you’ve put up as collateral.
If you’ve paid your debt and are concerned that an expired UCC filing is affecting your business, take charge. Contact the lender, connect with your secretary of state and reach out to credit reporting agencies to ensure any liens that you’ve satisfied are removed from your record.