| Background:
| Background:
Home If you are in debt, or in danger of being in debt . . .

If you are in debt, or in danger of being in debt . . .

Try and take action quickly to stop the situation getting any worse.

For practical, up-to-date information and advice on debt and other topics, you may be able to get help from a local office of  Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB)

 

Other web and telephone based sources of information and advice on money and debts:
Citizens Advice
Comprehensive, impartial information and advice on dealing with debt and budgeting.

Money Advice Service
Independent service, set up by the government, to offer free and impartial advice service to help people manage their money

National Debtline:
Tel: 0808 808 4000 (free) (M-F 09:00-21:00, Sat 09:30-13:00)

Stepchange Debt Charity
Free expert debt advice, based on your personal circumstances. No matter what your debt problem, we’ll be able to help.
Tel: 0800 138 1111 (M-F 08:00-20:00 Sat 08:00-16:00)

Debt Advice Foundation
Debt advice and education charity offering free support and impartial advice.
Tel: 0800 043 40 50 (free)

Other things you may like to know:

“Payday” loan companies.
What they are
These are licensed lending companies, usually with High Street offices or operating over the internet, which charge very high interest rates for short term loans. You should not borrow from them if you have any other options available to you. However if you do decide to, they should check first that you have the means to pay the money back.

Repaying
The lender will complete a ‘continuous payment authority’, which allows them to take the money plus interest directly from your bank account, when they like, usually over the space of a month.
If you are struggling to pay back, either ask your bank to stop the payments, or ask the lender for more time. However, choosing either of these two options is going to cost you even more money.

Reasons to complain
The lender should do certain things before lending to you, such as check your financial circumstances and explain to you the total cost of taking out the loan. If they fail to do this, you can complain to them, or to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you are still not satisfied that the lender has dealt with your complaint properly.

“Loan sharks”
“Loan sharks” are unlicensed moneylenders who charge extremely high interest rates, often threatening violence if you can’t repay them.
Because they are unlicensed, THEY (not you) are breaking the law if they lend you money, and you have NO legal obligation to pay them back. If they threaten or harass you, contact the Police immediately.

Bailiffs
A bailiff is someone who has a legal power to collect certain debts. They may do this by asking you to pay what you owe, or by taking and selling your belongings to raise the money. They may be a court official or employed by a private firm.

‘Notice of enforcement’
If the courts have decided they want to take action against you, you should receive a ‘notice of enforcement’. Once you have received it, you have seven days in which to respond. In this situation, it is best to get in contact with your creditor(s) to say you are working out a repayment plan; if they accept your offer to repay, bailiff action will be suspended.
Most bailiffs have a legal right to come to your home on a weekday or Saturday after 6.00 a.m. and before 9.00 p.m. to try take your things. They cannot legally force their way in to your home.
Lock all doors and windows;. Tell your family not to let them in – however it is worth knowing that they cannot come in if a child (someone under 16) opens the door to them.

Ask to see documentation to make sure they are legitimate. The bailiff can then search your home and decide what items they are going to take (though they can’t take them straight away – see above). These then become ‘controlled goods’, ie. no longer yours.

What they can take
The bailiff will normally identify the things (your belongings) they want to take (‘seize’), then get you to sign a ‘controlled goods agreement’, and then come and claim the goods at a later date. This agreement is important, because if you break it, ie. if you try to get rid of the items they’ve identified, they can come back to take them away at any time, by force if necessary.
Bailiffs cannot take “protected items” (essential items eg. clothing, furniture and items needed for work such as books, car etc.), children’s belongings, goods on hire purchase. It should also be noted that they can’t take more things than will cover the cost of the debt.

Once they have been
Bailiffs will get the items valued, and then try to sell them off, most often by auction. If your belongings sell enough to cover the debt, plus the auctioneer’s and bailiff’s fees, then the debt is cleared. If they fail to sell, you are allowed to get them back again, though your debt will remain.