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Five debt advice fears you should ignore

Asking for help can be frightening, but taking action can stop your debts controlling you – and start the process of you controlling your debts.

If you’re struggling, you don’t have to wait until the bailiffs are knocking on your door to get advice about financial problems and debts. Speak up and it will not be as bad as you think.

We asked personal finance and debt blogger Debt Camel to tell you the five fears you may have about debt advice – and how none of them are founded.

 

Five fears to forget

1. “They will just say I have to repay what I borrowed”

People have visions of turning up in court to go bankrupt and a stern judge saying no. Or of phoning a bank to say their hours have been cut and the bank saying “Tough, just pay us”. This just doesn’t happen!

Debt advice from charities like Citizens Advice, National Debtline and StepChange isn’t just free and confidential – it’s also non-judgmental. Even if you are regretting some of your spending, you aren’t going to be criticised for it.

2. “I can’t risk damaging my credit rating because all I need is a consolidation loan”

Consolidation loans can sound like an easy answer – one simple payment at a lower interest rate. But if you already have a lot of debt, you’ll struggle to get an unsecured loan. Getting a secured loan is putting your house at risk and often isn’t cheap at all. Consolidation loans are hardly ever the right answer to a big debt problem.

3. “I can’t manage without borrowing so there’s no point in getting debt advice”

It’s easy to get caught up in a debt spiral – borrowing a bit more this month means more interest to pay, so next month is even worse. At some point this can’t go on, because your cards are maxed out and no one will lend to you.

If you are still in the early stages, this may seem a long way off. But now you probably have several ways of dealing with your money difficulties. If you wait until your debts are much bigger, it’s going to be harder. When you’re in a hole, stop digging!

 

4. “I don’t want to go bankrupt so I just have to struggle on”

Bankruptcy isn’t the only debt solution. A Debt Management Plan  might work for you if you could repay your debt if interest wasn’t being added. If your debts are too big for that, there are other alternatives to bankruptcy.

And bankruptcy probably wouldn’t be nearly as bad as you fear – your name isn’t usually published in the papers any more, few people lose any possessions or have to make monthly payments – so if you need a clean start, find out the real facts.

5. “If I can’t pay my debts it will affect the people I live with”

Unless you have joint debts or guarantor loans, no-one else has to help pay your debts, not even if you are married. And their credit ratings won’t be affected unless you have a joint account with them, so if you live with your parents or flat mates, they won’t be affected.

So these fears are groundless?

Pretty much! It is a scary thing to pick up the phone and say you have debt problems, but most people feel a huge sense of relief when they do.

This guest post is from the Debt Camel blog and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the Money Advice Service.

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  • kathleen Mason / 8 March 2016

    Has anyone had a problem with cancelling a broadband contract due to bad service. I never signed anything, was given a 7 day cool off period but until you get the service you do not know how bad it will be. PlusNet say not their problem go to the switching service and I can't remember who that was. Have had to go to new provider, now PlusNet want me to pay them.

  • Mike Thomas / 13 November 2015

    I note you make reference to bankruptcy and a debt management plan (DMP) as being possible debt solutions, see point 4, but nowhere on this article do you refer to an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA).

    My view is that it would be helpful for the visitor to know this other option rather than just put 'If your debts are too big for that, there are other alternatives to bankruptcy'.

  • Gareth McNab / 11 November 2015

    The creditor might say it needs to be paid - the point of the above article is that the debt advice provider won't simply say that.

  • Patricia / 11 November 2015

    Item 1 in my sister's case was untrue. Barclays let her have a credit card & she owed them £300 which she couldn't pay when her job seekers allowance was stopped. Barclays sold her debt to a debt collecting company who telephoned my sister several times a day even though she was poorly as well as broke. Somehow they got the debt up to £1000 because of interest. She did eventually pay it all after threatening to sue the debt collectors. She even went without food to feed her cat. I never recommend Barclays to anyone because of the way they treated my sister.