When it comes to debt, everyone’s situation is different. But the one thing that remains the same across the board is that if you don’t deal with it quickly, it’ll only get worse.
Dealing with debt or having money worries can be a lonely place, so talking about it can be one of the best ways to find an answer to your problems. At TAD we want you to know that you’re not alone, and our ‘diagnose your debts’ service is on hand to help you know where you’re at with your money.
From knowing your rights and what you should pay first to finding out who you’re in debt to, how to know when you’re being scammed and getting your debt written off – we’ve got you covered.
Your debt rights
Your lenders have the right to chase you for payment because you owe them money. This can be through phone calls, letters, emails or even visiting your home.
However, they still have to follow the rules set out by the law – especially if you’re vulnerable. Most lenders will fall under the Consumer Credit Act, which sets out what your lenders can and cannot do. Failure to stick to this will put them in the firing line instead of you.
If you believe you have been treated unfairly, you can make a complaint both to the lender in question and to the Financial Ombudsman Service. They are required to investigate this for you and take any needed steps to help you.
What lenders should I pay first?
When you have a load of bills to pay, it’s not always easy to know what order they should get paid in. Some debts are known as ‘priority debts’, which should always be paid first.
But how do you know what ones are a priority and what ones aren’t? And why are some more important than others?
The answer to this is simple. Your priority debts are the ones that will get you in the most trouble if you don’t pay them. Bills such as your rent/mortgage or council tax run the risk of you having your home or belongings taken from you, being kicked out and in some cases even being sent to jail.
As such, we advise to write out all your bills in order of importance and make sure you pay the ones at the top of the list first. If you are behind on any of these, it’s important to make sure you have arrangements set in place to clear what you owe.
How do I find out who I’m in debt to?
Sometimes, when you’re dealing with debt problems, you lose track of all the people you owe money to. This can be for a number of reasons; maybe you haven’t heard from a lender in a while or life has gotten in the way.
It’s important to know who your lenders are to help you get a better idea of your situation as a whole. So, if you’re unsure of who you owe money to, there are a number of ways to find out.
The best way to do this is to check on your credit file and report. It’s designed to hold details about all your debts and any county court judgements or insolvencies that you may be subject to.
You can access this easily online for free to help you make a note of everyone you have credit with and any outstanding balances you have. Hard copies are available on request, but these will take longer to get to you, and you may have to pay for it.
If there are any accounts that aren’t on your report, you can check your emails and post to see if there are any records of accounts you’ve maybe forgotten about. There’s also the option of contacting lenders directly, but this may end up flagging your debt to the company in question. For possible debts to HMRC, councils or benefit overpayments, you’ll need to check this with them directly.
How to know when you’re being scammed
These days, getting scammed is becoming more and more of a problem. With scammers finding more and more ways to cleverly steal money from unsuspecting people.
It’s hard to know when you’re being scammed because they often make sure they cover everything to convince you it’s real. They’ll attempt to draw you in by offering you the world, making you trust them based on their promises.
As such, it’s important to remember that just because it sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t mean it is.
Watch out for cold calls from your bank, about pension schemes, PPI or the good old “accident that wasn’t your fault”. These are usually fake, so never give them any details when they call. Instead, hang up and contact them yourself for confirmation.
One other common scam tactic is the “phishing” email. These look like they come from a legit company, and will usually ask you to click a link or fill in some details to ‘stop your account from being closed’, and for the most part, these will look very convincing.
However, if you check the email address the message was sent from, you’ll usually find this is full of random numbers and letters or from a completely unrelated source. The emails will also sometimes contain mistakes in their spelling or grammar, a major red flag as most companies have their emails checked before being sent.
If you’re worried about being scammed, there are companies out there to help. Friends Against Scams is an organisation created by National Trading Standards to help people across England and Wales who have been victims of postal, telephone or doorstep scams.
If you live in Scotland, Counter Fraud Services work in partnership with the NHS to offer people advice and guidance to those who have been scammed.
Reducing/writing off debt
The easiest way to reduce your debts is to try and pay them off as quickly as you can. Understandably though, this is often easier said than done.
With the cost of living ever rising, and more and more people are turning to credit as something to rely upon to help them. However, when payments then become too much, reducing payments can seem like a good solution.
This, however, can mean paying them back will take twice as long and you’ll still have to pay interest. In these instances, many of us will turn to debt advice, which is where getting debt written off comes into play.
Getting debt advice isn’t something everyone wants to do. But by finding out your options you could find a way to deal with your debts that’s not only affordable but quick too.
Certain solutions, such as an IVA or Trust Deed, can help you do this – and have any remaining debt written off at the end.
If you’re looking to find out where you’re at with your money and advice on how to deal with it, talk to our resident debt expert, TAD. As a robot, TAD isn’t here to judge and can help you get a money health check to diagnose your debts.
Depending on the information you give us, we can offer you a boatload of advice related to your situation and, if necessary, refer you to one of our trust partners. They’re here to help you find a solution that works for you, so you can sleep a little easier knowing your debts are being taken care of.