The danger on your doorstep

Posted 21 May 2016

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Junk mail from lenders can be annoying, but if the letter is from a lender you’ve borrowed from, you must never ignore it.

If you’ve had trouble with debt before, you may now pride yourself on avoiding the temptation of borrowing. However, what about when that temptation comes to your home?

We’ve all had them – letters promising you a loan of thousands of pounds that can be in your account within days, or a credit card with an incredibly low interest rate. Then there’s the mail that promises to help you pay off your existing debts. The thing is, if you were to apply for all this borrowing, you could waste a lot of time and end up with several rejections showing on your credit history. Even if all your applications were accepted, you’d have a pretty big bill to pay off.

So, what should you do about this unwanted mail?

Bin it

The best thing you can do with junk mail that promises you money is to put it straight in the recycling bin. If you’re comfortable in your financial situation, you don’t need to borrow, and if you have existing debts you’re struggling with, it’s unlikely you’d qualify for the fantastic rate promised anyway. If you did borrow more, you could really struggle to keep on top of your finances.

Even if you’re thinking of borrowing, it’s probably not a good idea to apply for one of the offers that comes through your letterbox. Instead, you should carefully consider how much you can afford to pay back each month, and then use a calculator like this loans one or this one for credit cards to see how eligible you are for the products you’re considering.

Block it

Even if you stick your financial junk mail straight in the bin, it can still be irritating if you’re receiving several letters a day. If this is the case for you, you can do something about it.

There are a few steps you can take to block junk mail. The first is to make a sign or buy a sticker to put by your letterbox saying ‘no junk mail’. Sounds simple but it really works. And if there are some companies that send you a few letters a month, you can return them by writing ‘unsolicited mail’ on the envelope – hopefully they will take the hint!

You can also fill out this form and return it to the address included to ask that no more junk mail is delivered to your address. While you’re at it, register with the Mailing Preference Service to stop unsolicited mail. And don’t forget to always tick the no marketing box on orders when you buy something online.

What mail should you never ignore?

While it’s fine to put junk mail from lenders trying to sell you a loan or credit card straight in the bin, you must never ignore letters from lenders you have actually borrowed from. It might just be a bank or credit card statement, but it’s important to open and read this to make sure your monthly budget is up to date.

If you’re struggling to pay your bills, opening these letters may be the last thing you want to do – but you should make sure you always read them. Our research that revealed one in 10 people regularly ignore or don’t even open important letters that come to their home. Almost a third of respondents admitted they ignore their bills because they never contain ‘good news’.

Not opening post from your lenders could put you at risk of missing important information, or even forgetting to pay a bill. A missed bill can lead to a financial penalty and will also show up on your credit history.

A missed or late bill will remain on your credit history for six years, and if you have a few of them they could serve as a warning to lenders you apply to in the future that you have struggled to keep on top of your borrowing. This may mean they turn down your application – and all because you stopped opening your mail.

However, if you really feel that you can’t afford your repayments on your loan, credit card or any other borrowing, we know how tempting it can be to simply bury your head in the sand and ignore the issue. But by doing this, the amount you have to pay could increase as penalties are added and the interest grows, and your lender might decide to take further action against you, such as applying for a CCJ.

We speak to people every day who have ignored letters and phone calls from their lenders and hoped the problem would go away. The thing is it won’t. In fact, your lender would prefer you to get in touch with them and tell them that you’re struggling to make your repayments than ignore them altogether. That way you can at least come up with a new arrangement that suits you better. 

However, we understand how overwhelming it can be to think about telling your lender you’re struggling. There are options though – for example, there may be a debt solution available that helps make your payments more affordable.

If the letters you get from your creditors are piling up, get in touch with one of our advisors for a chat today using any of the options on the left.

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.