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Tackling your debts

How not to escape your debts

Posted 06 May 2016 by Kyri Levendi

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Ignoring the situation, borrowing from a loan shark, running away and changing your name are all things you should never do to escape your debts.

When you feel like you’re drowning in debt, it’s not unusual to start desperately searching for a way out – no matter how drastic.

It might be that your money worries have started to leak into your day-to-day life, meaning your relationships with your partner, family and friends are suffering. You may have trouble concentrating at work and be unable to sleep at night. You may even feel that your mental and physical health is suffering because of the stress.

The good news is there is help available. You can get in touch with one of our qualified money advisors using any of the options on the left. They’ll be able to tell you how to get back on track with your finances and whether there’s a debt solution that will help you.  

 

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However, there are some things you should never do to escape your debts. Read on to find out what to avoid:

Ignore the situation

It’s tempting to just bury your head in the sand and ignore the situation when you have debts that are spiralling out of your control. However, this will not make the problem go away, and it could actually make it worse.

By failing to keep on top of your repayments, your bills will continue to mount up – and so will the interest. Your creditors could also add charges for late or missed payments to your statements, making the balance even higher.

And if you ignore all the letters and phone calls you get from your creditors, they may decide they have no other option than to take legal action against you to reclaim what you owe. This could include trying to repossess your home if you have a mortgage or secured loan you’ve fallen behind on, or applying for a County Court Judgement (CCJ). These will also impact your credit history, making it harder to borrow again for at least six years.

Borrow from an illegal lender

If you simply don’t have the funds available to keep paying your debts - either at their current level or at all – you may think that borrowing the money you need to pay them off is the answer. However, if you have started to miss your existing payments, your credit history will have been damaged and that could make it very hard for you to borrow any more from a legitimate FCA-regulated lender.

What you must never do is approach an illegal lender to borrow the money you need. They may seem helpful at first and even be willing to overlook your damaged credit history, but they’re not known as ‘loan sharks’ for nothing.

These lenders are known to charge incredibly high rates of interest that make paying back the loan almost impossible. They may also visit you at home and make threats if you can’t give them their money. The Money Advice Service gives tips on how to spot a loan shark – use these to make sure one doesn’t bite you.  You can also check the FCA’s website to ensure that any lender you do decide to use is regulated.

Move house

It may seem logical that if you change your phone number and move house, you will lose your debts because your creditors won’t be able to find you. This is not the case, however.

When you took out the loan or credit card, you made a formal agreement with the lender that you would pay back what you owe, usually with added interest. Another part of this agreement is that you are responsible for letting your creditors know if your details change, including your address and phone number.

If you move to a new address and don’t tell your creditor with the sole purpose of escaping your debts, this is classed as debt avoidance. Regardless of whether they have your current address, your creditor can apply for a CCJ, which will remain on your credit history until the debt is repaid or you enter a formal debt solution like bankruptcy. 

A CCJ will not drop off your credit history after six years – as missed payments or successfully completed debt solutions would. This means that you will find it very, very difficult to borrow again, as any future lenders will be able to see there is an outstanding CCJ to your name.

You could also cause problems for whoever moves into the address you’ve listed with your creditors. They may have to put up with phone calls and letters or debt collectors chasing them for money they don’t owe. While they can solve this situation by speaking to the creditor, it’s an added hassle they shouldn’t have to go through.

Change your name

This is a drastic step, but if your debts are overwhelming you it may seem worth it – if it means you’ll be debt-free. However, changing your name is probably not the win-win solution you want it to be.

For one, just as with a change of address, you have a responsibility to let your creditors know if you change your name. So, if you got married and your surname changed, you would need to inform them.

Secondly, when you apply for credit or a bank account, you are asked to provide any names by which you have previously been known. If you have changed your name by deed poll and you don’t reveal your former name when asked or when you fill out a new application for credit, this could be classed as fraud.

And finally, if you change your name with the specific intention of escaping your debts – which means you have no intention of letting your creditors know – you are again in grave danger of committing fraud. This is a criminal act and the consequences are severe and could lead to prosecution.

What you can do

We’ve talked about some of the things you shouldn’t do if you want to end your debts, but there are some steps you can take:

First, let your creditors know. You may not want to contact them but if you make them aware of your situation, they will know that you are trying to resolve the issue and you may even be able to come to a new arrangement together.

Second, you can speak to an experienced debt advisor like us. We work with people with problem debts every day and have helped them get in control of their finances again. There are several debt solutions available and if you let us know your situation, we will be able to advise you on the best course of action.

Remember, there’s always a route out of debt – you just need to pick the right one.

 

by Kyri Levendi

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.