Help if you've fallen into debt - resources for advice on debt problems and money issues for disabled people
Claims management companies
There are lots of companies out there who say they can get your debts written off for you, or get compensation for you by claiming that your credit agreements are unenforceable.
be very careful!.
Genuine, professionally competent, regulated financial advisers have their place, but it is important that people in need have access to free, impartial money advice and that they take care to distinguish them from those whose help may well compound their problem. In addition to the well known high-street advice centres specialist debt advisory services are given below under sources of help.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) issued new debt management guidance on 21/12 22 March 2012
The guidance expands on previous versions, providing examples of 'unfair or improper practices' which, if engaged in, could render a business unfit to hold a consumer credit licence and operate in the market.
Having now closed, the Office of Fair Trading was responsible for protecting consumer interests throughout the UK. It closed on 01 April 2014, with its responsibilities passing to a number of different organisations including the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Financial Conduct Authority.
General Advice on Loans:
Falling behind on your loan repayments:
Firstly and most importantly, if you either think you are about to miss a loan payment, or if you have just missed one, contact your lender. Lenders will appreciate the fact that you acknowledge the problem, and this will put you in a much better light than if you ignored the problem. Tackling the problem early may avoid your lender notifying credit reference agencies, which could be crucial to obtaining credit in the future.
At this stage, it’s most likely that the lender will try to arrange an alternative payment schedule, rather than demanding the missed payment straight away. This means you are in a better position to make future loan payments, which is a good situation for both you and the lender.
Your alternative payment arrangements may involve spreading the missed payment(s) out on top of several other repayments, or simply paying the full amount at a later date. In some cases, a lender may grant you a ‘payment holiday’ on your loan – a pause in payments, usually no longer than a few months, after which payments resume as normal.
However, be aware that with either of these repayment methods, you will probably still be expected to pay the interest on the missed payments.
What will happen if you miss payments:
If you have defaulted on several payments, your lender will probably begin to take more serious measures to reclaim the money they are owed. Some lenders will still be willing to arrange alternative payments, but many will demand the outstanding amount in full.
This is when the real problems can begin: to avoid the possibility of court action, you’ll need to find the money quickly or find an alternative plan of action.
If you don’t think you will be able to keep up on loan payments, it’s essential you seek expert debt advice. A professional debt adviser can talk you through a range of options that could help you get out of debt, including debt management plans, debt consolidation and IVAs (Individual Voluntary Arrangements).
What not to do
What’s most important is that you don’t make the problem any worse. Recent studies suggest that many people are taking out further credit such as credit cards, or another loan, to make their loan repayments. This only delays the problem – you will still have to pay everything back eventually – so it makes much more sense to seek the appropriate debt advice.
Sources of Help:
Money Advice Service
An independent service, set up by government.
The Money Advice Service helps people manage their money. It does this directly through a free and impartial advice service and also working in partnership with other organisations to help people make the most of their money.
For free and impartial money advice. 0300 500 5000
A useful set of resources and guides from the team over at MoneySuperMarket. Find out more about debt, ways to avoid getting into debt and the various options you might have when dealing with debt, including Debt consolidation, Debt Management Plan, Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVA) and Bankruptcy.
StepChange Debt Charity ( formerly the Consumer Credit Counselling Services (CCCS)
Free debt help and advice for UK debt problems
Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds LS2 8NG
Helpline: 0800 1381111
If you’re worried about debt, StepChange will help you find the best solution. Their service is completely free, you don’t have to provide your name and all the advice you receive will be based on your situation. Once you have completed your debt Remedy they will provide you with:
- Tailored advice from our expert debt counsellors
- A personal budget showing your income and outgoings
- Practical help to make the most of your money
All you need to do is answer a series of questions about your household, income and outgoings. It will take about 20 minutes, and if you need to you can save your information and come back to it for up to 60 days.
You can do this online on the StepChange Debt Charity Website or use the freephone number above.
The Money Advice Trust (MAT)
The Money Advice Trust helps people across the UK to tackle their debts and manage their money wisely.
One of the key elements of the Money Advice Trust achieving its vision is providing free, impartial advice to people struggling with debt.
The Trust runs telephone and online advice services, as well as producing paper information packs for people to work through in their own time.
21 Garlick Hill
London EC4V 2AU
Tel: 020 7489 7796
In 2003, following a pilot programme which began in 2000, the Trust agreed to take on responsibility for running National Debtline, a telephone based advice service that now receives around 200,000 calls a year.
For free, confidential and independent advice on how to deal with your debts call National Debtline free on 0808 808 4000 or visit www.nationaldebtline.org or use the interactive online advice service www.mymoneysteps.org
If you are self-employed or a small business owner, call Business Debtline free on 0800 196 6026 or visit www.businessdebtline.org.