Who can you speak to about your debts?
Us of course … but this isn’t about us, this is about you. In this article, we are going to answer that very question and tell you so much more. We want to help you put your debt worries behind you.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: When it comes to debt, you can’t ignore the problem.
As we’ve said in our other article ‘What can I do if I can’t pay my bills’, the first step to take when you are struggling with debt is to ‘make contact’ with a debt help company. Legitimate and professional debt help companies will be sensitive to your concerns and needs, communicating with you through whatever method you are comfortable with. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved, so share your concerns and reach out to the experts.
Are you ready to take action and get debt help?
Well, let’s start with who not to speak to:
It would be wise not to use a debt help company that isn’t authorised or registered with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) as an approved Debt Counsellor.
By getting advice from an authorised debt help company gives you peace of mind that they have met the standards set by the FCA (who are the same regulator for Banks and most other financial firms in the UK).
Only authorised Debt Counsellors can give you advice regarding your debt. Unauthorised firms can only give you information. They cannot provide any debt advice or suggestions to improve your circumstances.
If you deal with an unauthorised firm you will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Service Compensation Scheme if things go wrong.
Now, let’s help you find the right people to speak to…
Most firms will have their own website so you can check this to see if the information being provided is clear, fair and not misleading.
Here are some things to look out for:-
- Are they offering or suggesting only one product?
- Are they promising to write off a very high amount of debt for all customers?
- Do they have a complaints policy?
- Do they show their registered business address?
- Do they have a data protection registration number so they can handle data?
- Are there reviews collected by a reputable third party from genuine customers?
- Is their website secure? Secure websites show a padlock in the address bar like above
Here are some questions that you should ask a debt help company when you make contact:
- Are you registered with the FCA?
- What fees do you charge for your service?
- Can you explain to me the different debt help options that are available?
- What debt arrangements can be made?
- What do you think is the best debt management plan for me?
- What is an IVA?
- What legal protection from creditors can I get?
- How can I have the interest and charges frozen?
- What is a protected trust deed? (for residents of Scotland)
- What is a minimal assets process? (for residents of Scotland)
- What is a debt relief order? Can action can be taken against me if I can’t pay my bills?
- Do your debt solutions cover all types of debt?
- What advice can you give me regarding guarantor loans?
- Will the debt solution affect my job?
- For homeowners, how will the debt solution affect my property?
- Do I have to sell my car?
If the company that you are talking to can’t answer these questions, we strongly advise you don’t proceed using their services.
**Tip** Advice should never be forced.
A good debt advisor won’t ever judge you or make you feel bad about the financial situation that you are in. They will always be happy to talk to you about your money problems whether they are big or small. Debt experts can most probably find a way of sorting things out for you even if you can’t see the light at the end of the debt tunnel yourself.
A debt advisor will most probably ask you some of the following questions:
What type of debts do you have?
- Store cards
- Car finance
- Household bills
- How much do you owe and what are your financial capabilities?
- How are you coping?
A good debt advisor will show empathy and be supportive. With their expertise, they will be able to make suggestions and guide you. Not all debts are the same, there can be a different route to take for each debt.
The destination will be the same – a place where you can reduce stress and anxieties and take control of your finances. Read our article, ‘Controlling your finances’.
We are registered and authorised with the FCA and the FCA have their own consumer helpline so you can call them to check, call 08001116768.
Who are the FCA?
The FCA is there to prevent people from being misinformed and protect them from scams and fraud. They aim to make financial markets work well so that consumers get a fair deal. 58,000 firms and markets and registered with them and they are the regulators of banks, building societies, credit cards, loans insurers and more. The FCA is accountable to the ‘Treasury’, the UK’s financial system and parliament.
**Tip** It’s good to talk.
UK DEBT HELP & ADVICE – understand your options and find your solutions.