There may come a time when you find you are hiding unopened letters because you cannot face the fact they are all demanding money that you owe them. The debts are getting bigger and the letters are getting nastier and you realise you will have to do something.
Where to start?
Do not be tempted by the adverts you see on daytime TV promising to end your debt worries. They will be nice and reassuring to you but they will begin by taking even more money from you. You will give them money to divide among your creditors and they will keep a hefty slice themselves.
Also, crucially, your most important creditors will not deal with them. This is money owed on rent or mortgage or Council Tax.
Council Tax arrears will not generate lots of angry letters. You will get one reminder and then a Summary Warrant will be issued at Court and the Sheriff’s Officers are involved. If you telephone the Council to try and negotiate payment of arrears before they go to Court they are helpful about organising payments but the Sheriff’s Officers are much tougher and will be looking at things like Wages Arrestments or freezing your bank account.
Put payments for housing, either rent or mortgage and Council Tax at the top of your priorities with fuel bills next.
Then look at your consumer debts and overdrafts.
Some of these letters can get really nasty but these people cannot enter your home and cannot take your possessions. You are also only liable for debts that are actually in your name, unless you personally signed as guarantor.
Might you be able to pay them off eventually if payments were reduced or token payments were accepted for a while? This will work if the interest payments and charges are frozen. The CAB can help you with this using a system called CashFlow which has been accepted by most major lenders.
You may feel that things have gone beyond this stage and you need more help. The CAB has a qualified Money Advice team who will help. You will begin by writing down all your debts and creditors. This is hard to do but they have seen it all and are quite unshockable.
This is a brief look at a huge subject. I will write next time about how the Courts deal with debt and Sequestration and Trust Deeds
For now the main points are ;
Don’t use a debt company that charges you. There is free help available
Put rent/ mortgage and Council Tax first.
If you want more information write into the Crier or call at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau at 7 Atholl Crescent . Drop in is 10am-12 noon Monday to Friday or phone 01738 450581 for an appointment between 1-3pm.
For advice on the telephone call 01738 450580.
website www.adviceguide.org.uk gives accurate information. You need to click the Scotland tab in case it is a query affected by Scot’s Law. Benefits and employment are the same in both countries but Debt is different.