|Q: I’m in debt – what do I do now?
A: Don’t ignore the problem – speak to an experienced adviser to help identify the right solution for you.
|Q: How long will it take to get out of debt?
A: This will depend on how much you owe and the solution you use to manage the problem.
|Q: Will my credit rating be affected?
A: Yes. While you are repaying your debt you will probably be unable to borrow from any lender who uses credit checking before lending money. A note will be put on your file informing lenders that you have unpaid debts and this may prevent them from wanting to lend you more money.
|Q: Will I lose my house?
A: Property repossession can only ever occur if you do not maintain your mortgage payments or any payments on loans which are specifically secured against your property. For this reason it is vital that you maintain your mortgage and secured loan payments over and above any other debts. If you have started to miss mortgage or secured loan payments, seek advice as soon as possible. Property repossession does not happen overnight and the sooner you act, the less likely you are to have your home repossessed.
|Q: Will I be able to get a mortgage or credit in the future?
A: Yes – once your debts are cleared, you will be free to borrow again as normal.
|Q: How much will help cost me?
A: This will depend on the solution that is most suitable for your personal circumstances. You will need to ask your advisor what charges, if any, you will have to pay.
|Q: How long will it be before I can borrow more money if my credit file is affected?
A: You may be able to borrow on a secured lending basis – mortgages, car finance agreements etc – but this is not always advisable, unless it is part of a debt repayment plan (for example, re-mortgaging your house to release some equity to repay your debts)
|Q: Could I lose my job for being in debt?
A: In normal circumstances you won’t lose your job, but there are some employers who include a clause in their employment contracts referring to personal debt (typically, the financial services sector). Check your own Contract of Employment to see if it contains such a clause. Debt may also result in the loss of your job if you work in some sectors of the armed forces or in the police force.
|Q: What action can creditors take against me?
A: Creditors will first write to you and/or telephone you demanding payment. (They may charge you for late payments and administration fees). They may also freeze the account that is in debt (bank, catalogues, store-cards etc) so that you cannot use it anymore.
If you have not paid once they have taken this action, they may then issue a default notice.
|Q: What is debt negotiating?
A: You are allowed to negotiate with your creditors and most creditors will consider any reasonable request or offer of repayment that you make. You will sometimes need to contact creditors several times before they will agree to what you are asking.
It’s important that creditors can see that what you are asking for is reasonable in the circumstances. So make sure you are clear about what you are asking for; always ask to freeze interest (unless they freeze interest, your debt will carry on growing even if you are making regular payments.); tell them what regular payment intervals – weekly or monthly – you are able to offer.
Explain your situation fully. If you have priority debts, explain to non-priority creditors what you are offering to each of your priority creditors; show creditors evidence to support your request or offer of payment, for example, medical evidence if you can’t pay your debts because of illness, and mention any future changes that will affect payments. Make sure you keep copies of all your letters to creditors and their replies and a note of any phone conversations with them, in case you need them later.