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Financial Help

Five Signs That You’re Nearing The Debt Trap

By | Financial Help

Five Signs That You’re Nearing The Debt Trap

If you recognise one, or even more, of these signs, then you need to reevaluate your financial situation immediately.

Your Income Goes on Repaying Loans

Everyone looks forward to payday, but if all of your income goes on repaying previous loans, then you need to be wary. The rule-of-thumb is you should not be using more than 30% of you monthly income on repaying previous debts, obviously this can vary depending upon your own particular set of circumstances, but if you are regularly paying more than half of your income on debts, you should reevaluate your budget.

You Are Borrowing To Fund Essentials

If you find yourself borrowing money to fund the essentials; utility bills, mortgage, etc. Then you need to seriously rethink your spending habits. Everybody has bad months, but if this is a regular occurrence, then you simply cannot afford to live. Contact our trained advisers immediately.

You Are Borrowing To Repay Loans

One of the worst/biggest causes for concern is if you find yourself taking out a loan to pay off other loans. In the right situation a consolidation loan can be great, but you really need to pick the correct one for you, and never think about short-term loans i.e. payday loans, to repay another debt. You are simply making your final total greater with each loan, and if you are struggling to repay the first, it’s only going to be more difficult for further loans.

You Are Unable To Repay Credit Card Bills

As credit cards are often one of the most costly loans available, if you find yourself simply paying the minimum repayment or, worse, can’t repay it at all, it is time to seriously look at your finances.

You Are Unable To Get Further Loans

As banks check your credit record before offering you a loan, if you are refused a loan then it’s quite a good sign that you are in or nearing the debt trap. This may then lead you on to short-term loans and less-reputable lenders, meaning much higher fees and interest.

Do You Recognise These Signs?

If you are ‘nearing’ rather than fully ‘in’ the debt trap, then you should consider taking to one of our advisers and see what we can do.

If you are indeed ‘in’ the debt trap then contact us immediately. There is no fee for our advice, and no obligation to use any of the solution we may suggest, but if you do nothing about it today, your situation is only going to get worse.

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Martin Lewis Money Show

By | Financial Help, News

Martin Lewis Money Show

Money Saving Expert’, Martin Lewis, is hosting his live show in Liverpool in September, and is looking for your questions!

On Tuesday September 25th at St George’s Hall in Liverpool,Martin Lewis is answering your questions LIVE.

  • Concerned about energy prices?
  • Worried about bills at Christmas?
  • Need to know how to switch and save?

Your Money Questions Answered

To apply to be on the show email your details and question to martinlewis@itv.com (Last date for application is 23.59 on Monday 24th September 2018).

Martin Lewis Money Show

Appear on the Show

If you just want to be in the audience, tickets are completely free and available from the Applause Store.

Debt Questions

In the meantime, if you have any questions about debt, why wait until September? Talk to one of our trained advisers today!

There is no charge for our help and advice, and absolutely no obligation to use any of the services we may suggest to you. So what have you got to lose? Just answer a few simple questions and we’ll call you back.

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Wonga ‘Collapse’

By | Financial Help, News

The well-known payday loan company, Wonga, is apparently on the brink of collapse according to reports.

Due to the large amount of compensation claims for misselling, Wonga’s shareholders had to invest £10 million to keep the company afloat. However, it is rumoured that the news of this simply encouraged claims management companies to claim compensation for misselling payday loans to their clients; the complaints being that Wonga targeted vulnerable customers and charged exorbitant interest on their short-term loans.

A spokesperson from Wonga stated. “The Wonga board continues to assess all options regarding the future of the group.”

I Have A Wonga Loan. What Does This Mean?

Wonga are currently not in administration, and therefore you should continue to repay them as you normally would. However, if you are struggling to meet repayments, you should contact our trained advisers who can help you with your financial situation.

Do not simply stop paying, Wonga are still up and running, and if you miss repayment you will be charged their missed payment fee of £15.

What If They Go Into Administration?

If Wonga should enter into administration, its administrators will almost definitely sell on your loan to another company, in order to try and make as much money as they possibly can to repay their creditors. In short, you’ll still have to pay, but it will be to another company.

What About Wonga Compensation Claims?

If you are in the process of making a claim against Wonga, then your claim will be processed as usual, however if you they do enter into administration, your claim be added to the list of creditors to be repaid. If Wonga does into administration, you will no longer be able to make new claims of misselling against Wonga.

If you have taken out a payday loan with Wonga (or any other payday loan company) and you are struggling to repay it, then contact us now, and you could possibly write off up to 80% of your unsecured debts.

There is no fee for our advice, and there is absolutely no obligation for you to use any of the solutions we may suggest to you. So what have you got to lose? Simply fill in the form below and we’ll call you back.

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Debt Levels Rise Across UK

By | Financial Help, News

Debt Levels Rise Across UK

Citizens Advice, have recently revealed that UK households are in debt on their essential bills, to a total of £18.9 BILLION!

These essential bills are things such as council tax, and non-payment of which can have serious consequences including seizure of goods, loss of service, or even loss of home. These debts have lead to an increase in the use of bailiffs in order to collect the payments, and in turn, have lead to an increase of complaints against bailiffs.

Falling behind in your household bills can lead to extortionate interest and charges from the service provider, which in turn lead to greater debt, greater inability to repay, and greater stress and worry. However, there is no need to worry, contact our trained advisers and see what they can do to help.

Bailiff Help

Citizens Advice particularly highlight the case of a man receiving cancer treatment who missed a £30 parking fine and then found that bailiffs had let themselves into his home and were removing possessions.

Cleaning Up The Industry

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have announced a call for evidence on bailiffs and their tactics and will take necessary action to ‘clean up the industry’.

Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the Civil Enforcement Association has said, “A visit by an enforcement agent is always the last resort. Agents are highly trained and must follow a process set out in detailed regulations to ensure that they collect unpaid council tax and court fines fairly,

“The fees that are added to the outstanding debt are fixed by government and anyone owing money to the council will receive calls, letters, emails and texts and an opportunity to set up a payment plan.

“We work closely with the voluntary sector and under the regulations people are sign posted to debt advice, which accounts for the increase in numbers. But if anyone has strong evidence of bad practice we will investigate.”

Richard Watts, from the Local Government Association, said: “No council wants to have to debt collect from its residents, particularly from people on low incomes, but local authorities have a duty to their residents to collect taxes which fund essential services, such as protecting vulnerable children, caring for the elderly, collecting bins, and keeping roads maintained.

“It is essential that vital services are protected and that these funds are collected.”

Help With Bailiffs

If you are having trouble repaying any debts, or are having to deal with bailiffs, then talk to our friendly advisers now. All of our advice is without charge, and there is absolutely no obligation to use any of the services suggested to you, so what have you got to lose? Complete this simple form now!

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Scottish Personal Insolvencies Rise

By | Financial Help, News

Scottish Personal Insolvencies Rise

A recent report from Accountants in Bankruptcy (AiB) has shown that personal insolvencies rose during the the first quarter of the financial year (April – June).  AiB report that there were  3,208 bankruptcies and protected trust deeds during this period, a rise of 12% on the same period last year.

Protected Trust Deeds

Protected trust deeds made up well over half of these with 1,972 approved applications. This is a massive rise of 28% on the previous year. A protected trust deed is a legally-binding arrangement whereby you can repay your debts over four years. The rise in popularity may be down to the fact that a trust deed will clear you of debts, and whilst not an easy option, it has less harsh consequences than those of bankruptcy. This is shown by the fall in bankruptcies of 7%.

The debt arrangement scheme, which allows Scottish residents to repay their debts without insolvency action, rose again with 648 applications approved.

You can learn more about debt solutions for Scottish residents here.

Scottish Debt Help

Richard Dennis, AiB’s chief executive said, “While the numbers of individuals entering insolvency continues to be much lower than 10 years ago, these figures clearly illustrate personal insolvencies [in Scotland] remain on an upward trend from the first quarter of 2015-16.

“With consumer borrowing now surpassing the levels seen before the 2008 crash, we are leading an ambitious programme of reform to make sure the debt solutions offered by the Scottish government remain relevant in today’s society.”

Back to School Debt

By | Financial Help, News

Back to School Debt

A third of parents in Northern Ireland have stated that they are getting into debt in order to cover the expense of sending their children back to school.

A new survey by the Irish League of Credit Unions has shown that, on average, parents of primary school children are in debt by £252, while parents of children at secondary school are £291 in debt! This isn’t even how much it costs to send their children to school, this is how much in debt they are after paying out on average £754 for a primary school child and a whopping £1,160 for a secondary school child!

If you are a parent, you know how hard it can be to deny your children what they feel they ‘need’; the latest equipment, branded clothing, school trips. This leads many parents getting themselves into debts to buy the things that they can’t afford, to ensure their child(ren) doesn’t feel left out.

But the debt is not all on ‘luxury’ items of branded sportswear and extravagent trips, the biggest cost for parents of primary school aged children is before/after-school care, followed by uniform costs and lunches. And I think we can all agree that care, clothing and food, can be considered essentials. Secondary school children’s biggest cost was school trips, which could be avoided, but this is followed closely by uniforms and lunches, again, essentials.

In order to meet these costs, many are getting in to debt with payday lenders, even though they simply can’t repay the lenders in the agreed time.

Another third of parents aren’t getting into debt, but are struggling to meet the cost of the new school year. They either cutting back on expenses such as household bills, holidays and food, or simply not buying what they can’t afford; things such as new shoes, spare uniform items and any extra-curricular activities.

We urge everyone reading this not to use payday lenders, many of whom charge massive interest rates and fees, and very often can lead into a spiral of debt that’s extremely difficult to get yourself out of. Whether or not you decide to use our services, we urge you to consider alternative solutions to payday or doorstep lenders.

Stigma Of Debt: Is It Still A Thing?

By | Financial Help, News

Stigma Of Debt: Is It Still A Thing?

You may recently have heard of the case of Jerome Rogers, the 21-year-old who took his own life over the inability to repay his debts, (recently reported on the BBC’s Killed By My Debt). It started with two £65 traffic fines, which the inability to repay quickly led to further debts. The pressure of this eventually led to him taking his own life. And while no one is arguing that this is a tragic case, sadly it is not unique.

The majority people who are in debt get into it through circumstances beyond their control; ill health, loss of a job, breakdown of a relationship. This then leads to a struggle to repay what you have got used to paying, and then the spiral of debt starts; The repayments getting greater each month until there is no way you can even repay the minimum amount. Despite the common view that people in debt should simply “spend less”, overspending on your credit cards ‘just for fun’ is very rarely the cause. And anyone can find themselves struggling to meet their financial repayments if the circumstances are right.

Consumer debt has risen by almost 10% in the past year, with unsecured consumer credit now over £200 BILLION! This means that the average adult in the UK is more than £600 in debt. Obviously, whilst this doesn’t mean that everybody in the UK is in debt, it certainly means that there are a lot more people struggling than you may think. So, knowing that debt isn’t a problem unique to you, why does it still have such a stigma attached to it?

80% Of People Suffer in Silence

Money Advice Service recently released a statistic that stated that just 20% of people struggling with debt actually reach out and talk to someone about getting some help. This leaves a staggering 80% of people who are quietly struggling, which can lead to situations like Jerome’s. This can only be because they still believe there is some kind of stigma, and they feel ashamed or embarrassed by their struggles. Debt Assist UK deal with many people struggling with their finances, and I believe that the number-one reason people are still ashamed to be in debt is due to the practices of the creditors and those they employ to chase the debts; the lenders can be offhand or even aggressive, and often make assumptions about the people in debt. The mass media doesn’t help either, often describing people in debt as ‘greedy’, ‘not thinking of the consequences of their actions’, ‘unable to manage their money properly’, ‘going on too many holidays’, ‘buying all the latest fashions’.

Anybody that stops to think for even ten seconds knows that this is simply not true, there are many reasons people are in debt, and it is rarely their own fault, and no one plans to get into unpayable debt. Most people must turn to credit at some point in their lives and a simple change in circumstances can make the difference between being able to repay the debt, and not. Divorce, loss of income, an expected bonus not being paid, or even an emergency vet bill or the need to buy a new oven, boiler, or refrigerator. All of these can throw off any financial plans you may have previously made. Living within your means, planning and sticking to a budget, is something that everyone must do at some point in their lives.

If you want to see just how many people are struggling financially, view the Guardian’s average-debt map, although most will never admit it, people are in debt everywhere and from all walks of life. And from our experience, those that hide it the most behind their big TVs and designer clothes, often tend to be the ones most in debt!

Struggling with your finances can be an extremely stressful time, and the stigma attached to debt certainly doesn’t help. However, rather than encouraging people to stay out of debt what this stigma actually does is stop people getting the help they need!

Ironically, there is no stigma in borrowing money. When was the last time you saw someone turn their nose up at someone because they announced they took out a loan, or they were in their overdraft?

A Problem Shared…

If you are feeling at all stressed, debt related or not, it always help to talk to someone, whether this is a partner (the amount of people who haven’t told their partner about their debt troubles is staggering), friends, or family members. Or call us. Here at Debt Assist UK we understand that everyone’s situation is different and completely personal to themselves. This is why our friendly advisers take the time to properly understand your situation before suggesting the correct solution for your particular set of circumstances. You won’t get pity and you won’t get charity. However, you will get an understanding pair of ears and the chance to talk to somebody with the knowledge and experience to offer realistic help and advice to get you out of your financial troubles.

Almost fifty percent of people who are struggling with debt consider suicide. If you are feeling suicidal then talk to someone immediately, you won’t be judged and talking really can help.

Debt Stress

Some of the more common symptoms of debt stress include feeling panicky, overwhelmed, upset, disappointed and even physically and mentally exhausted (although, ironically, it often leads to loss of sleep). Research by MoneySuperMarket found that over half of the adults questioned are regularly worried about their finances. Of this, 65% of 18-34-year-olds state that they are constantly worried about their finances, so you are definitely not the only one!

If you are suffering from debt-related stress, or any of the symptoms, then please consider going to see your doctor. They can help. They may also put you in touch with other people who can help, such as mental health charities Mind or SANE.

Talk To Someone – Anyone

If you don’t want to talk to a stranger, let your family and friends know how you are feeling, it’s not easy but they may be able to offer support. If you want someone between a complete stranger and your closest friends, your GP will also listen to any problems you are having, just ask for an emergency appointment.

Debt is never a reason to end your life. There are options out there. Contact Debt Assist UK now and talk to someone who can help.

  • Samaritans – For Everyone – 116 123
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably – For Men – 0800 585858
  • Papyrus – Under 35 Year Olds – 0800 068 41 41

What To Do Next?

We know from experience that many people contact us several times before admitting they need our help. These people contact us then get scared when we call back and come up with many different reasons why they definitely didn’t fill out our contact form, and they definitely don’t require debt help. Then a few months later, they find themselves in further debt and they contact us again for help. This time they have no option but to talk to us and they find that it’s not so difficult after all, and that it actually helps and wish they had talked to us the first time.

You have read this far, so you don’t need the sales pitch. You won’t need to unblock all of the phone numbers and you still don’t need to answer unknown number calls. But be realistic, the problem won’t go away by simply ignoring it, and all you are doing in the mean-time is getting into further debt. Open all the letters you have been avoiding (if you still have them hidden away somewhere), you need to know exactly what you owe and who you owe it to. Then get on the phone to us (0800 029 3992). We will listen to your problem and then suggest a solution. You have no obligation to use our services and we may even suggest using different companies if we believe it will be in your best interest. Everything will be fully explained to you before you agree to anything, and even then you get a ‘cooling off’ period. You can begin to relax. We will do all of the hard work. You will begin to repay your debts, your creditors will stop chasing you, and you can stop worrying every time your phone rings or there’s an unexpected knock at the door.

5* Felt like I was talking to a friend rather than a company. Sam & Kevin were so friendly & answered every question I had. Anyone who has money worries, I cannot recommend these guys enough! Thank you!

Richard
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Gambling and Debt

By | Financial Help

Gambling and Debt

Gambling and debt often form a vicious circle; gambling is often a source of debt, but being in debt often causes people to gamble in the hope of paying off their ever-increasing debts.

Whilst we can help you with gambling debts, we cannot help you if you don’t help yourself. In order to prove that we aren’t helping someone purely to get more money to gamble with, we must see proof that you are no longer gambling (three months on your bank statements is usually enough). However, if you have a gambling addiction we advise you to seek help and support from trained professionals.

GamCare

GamCare offer support and counselling online or over the phone so you can talk to their trained advisers anonymously.

Call GamCare on 0808 8020 133 8am – midnight or visit their website at GamCare.org.uk

Support Groups

Talking to people in a similar position is a great way to help yourself. Support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous or SMART Recovery can help put you in touch with people to help keep your gambling under control.

Your GP

It might not be your first thought, but a visit to your GP should be your first call if you believe you could be addicted to gambling. Together you can discuss the options available to you in your area, or put you forward for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT); this sounds worse than it actually is, CBT is a form of talking therapy that effectively helps many people.

Addicted to Gambling?

If you gamble regularly, there are a few warning signals to keep an eye on to see whether or not you, or a loved one, may have a gambling addiction.

  • Using money you don’t have to bet – overdraft or credit cards.
  • Missing payments to debts because you have gambled your money.
  • Gambling to make money to repay your debts.

As a general rule, if you’re gambling with money you are afraid to lose, then don’t.

Gambling Debts?

If you are struggling with debts from gambling, call our friendly advisers. They will discuss with you your options and suggest a realistic way to get you out of debts. And, most importantly, they will never judge you. Over the years we have helped many people struggling with gambling debts.

How To Increase Your Credit Score

By | Financial Help, Real Questions

How To Increase Your Credit Score

Here at Debt Assist UK we are seeing a growing number of people asking questions about their credit score, and how it can be improved, particularly once they have completed an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) or debt management plan (DMP).

What Is My Credit Score?

Your credit score is a rating based upon your past credit history. There are three credit reference agencies; Experian, Equifax and Call Credit. Each credit score company compiles their reports in slightly different ways, so it’s worth checking all three to get a complete picture of your credit score.

Don’t sign up for their expensive monthly reports! There are cheap or even free ways to view the same information.

How Long Does It Take To Clear Debts From My Credit Report?

  • Defaults take six years after the first default date.
  • Any arrears can take six years to drop off your credit report.
  • CCJs will take six years to leave your credit report.
  • Bankruptcy, IVAs or DROs will take six years to disappear from your credit report.

As you can see, there is a pattern here, six years is your time-frame to a clear debt record. This means that if you are in an IVA, and have stuck to it, and managed your debts since you started, then you are right on track to a fresh start.

Repaying debts in a debt management plan doesn’t help improve your credit score, however not repaying your debts would only make it worse, and if you want any further credit, you should clear your debts first (and obviously a DMP is a great way to do this). Although, if you haven’t paid anything towards a debt for six years, and it has ‘fallen off’ your debt record, you can pretty much forget about it as it’s (probably) statute barred. If you have been paying a debt and it falls off your credit report keep paying it! You could end up with a CCJ which puts you back to square one.

  • Having a credit card is good, but you need to be using less than 30% of the total value. And paying it off completely each month is best. Get yourself a card with a small limit and buy one thing a month and pay if off straight away. But be careful! If you have just come out of a debt solution you are unlikely to be able to get yourself a ‘good’ credit card, so apply for one of Vanquis or Luma. These are easier to get but have a very high rate of interest (if you repay in full every month, this won’t be a problem).
  • Try and pay more than the minimum amounts.
  • No payday loans for around a year before applying for any kind of credit (best off just trying to avoid them completely).
  • Don’t go into your overdraft.
  • Try to pay by direct debit so that you can’t miss payments.
  • If you switch accounts (mobile phone, utility providers, etc.) make sure you are fully paid up before moving. This is a common cause of defaults.
  • Ensure that your address is up to date on all systems. Just because you didn’t receive the bill, doesn’t mean you can’t get a default (or worse, CCJ).
    Make sure you are on the electoral roll.
  • Make sure that your default date is correct. If not, let the creditor know (a written letter is best). It will move on your credit report and will mean it falls off sooner.

If after your debt solution you have changed your spending habits, then these shouldn’t really be a problem.

Be aware that rebuilding your credit score can take a long time. You should give it at least a year to see improvements.

Train Delays and Refunds

By | Financial Help

Train Delays and Refunds

Almost the whole rail network seems a little messed up at the minute, with most trains running through (at least) Manchester being delayed or cancelled.

Choose Not To Travel?

You are legally entitled to a full refund should you choose not travel if your train is late or delayed. This comes under the National Rail Conditions of Travel. If you decide not to travel for a different reason, you can get a refund of up to £10 (minus admin costs).

Beware however, as some tickets, such as advance fairs and season tickets, are not refundable.

Still Getting The Train?

If you still decide/need to get the train, it’s not all lost, you may be entitled to compensation. The amount of compensation you receive is dependent upon the operator you travel with. The company’s charter (see below) outlines the minimum offered, so it’s always worth arguing for more:

However, as a minimum, if you arrive at your destination one late you are entitled to:

  • Single Ticket – 50% of price paid.
  • Returns Ticket – 50% of price paid if both legs are delayed by an hour.
  • Season Ticket – Check the charters up above.

The rail companies may try not to pay out if the delay was beyond their control, e.g vandalism, extreme weather conditions, or orders from emergency services, however I think in these situations most people would understand the delay.

Rail Company Charters

Poor Service

You may also be able to claim back money on your ticket if you believe you have experienced poor service, however the rail company may argue this.

How To Claim

  • All claims need to be made to the retailer from which you bought your ticket. This includes third-party/online retailers too, stating the date and time you purchased the ticket.
  • You must have your ticket, or proof of purchase. This enables the rail company to know that your complaint is genuine.
  • Claims must be made within 28 days of completing (or not) the journey.