Some people who use the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Perth have terrible things to deal with that they could not have avoided but there are quite a few clients who find themselves with very annoying consequences of quite minor mistakes. You will probably have broken all your New Year Resolutions by now so here are three more.
1st. Check your bank statements. O.K. They may not be a pretty sight but it is worth the trouble. You may find you are paying out money for nothing. Years ago you could have authorised a debit. A client found an annual payment leaving her account for insurance she no longer needed or wanted. You may have been offered something for free or a free trial and given your bank details to secure this. What you did not realise was that the trial was ‘free’ for one month. Unless you deliberately cancelled the company would start taking monthly payments. I was visited by a young worker in a food company who earned about £220 per week. Each month three separate payments were being taken from her bank account which together came to over £100 per month. These were going to a company she had never heard of. She had paid this company over £1000. When I checked them out they were a phone help line for consumer enquiries (who did not answer the phone) but it was hard to tell what they actually did. The payments could be stopped right away but the company was registered in California so there was little hope of getting her money even with help from Trading Standards. If she had checked her bank account she would have noticed earlier!
2nd. If you are telephoned don’t give your bank details. If you want to order something from an advert and prefer to talk to someone from the company then it is fine to telephone them yourself and give them your bank details in order to make a payment. If someone calls you that you do not know, even with a ‘free’ offer, do NOT give them your details. Even if they say they are your Bank, or the Police or B.T. Even if they say you can hang up and call us back. Because when you call back they have kept the line open and it is still the same people. I know they are very persuasive. Just hang up the phone. If you are worried then call the bank from the number on your account or the Police on 0845 60 5705.
3rd Tell the DWP If you move or change your Bank. A client changed his bank account. The new bank said they would take care of everything. They changed his outgoings but did not inform the DWP so his disability benefits had no where to go and he had no money. A client was on sickness benefits and went to stay with her sister but did not inform the DWP. So she did not get the letter asking her to go for a medical. When she missed the medical all her benefits stopped. The DWP said it was up to her to let them know she had changed her address. So let them know and keep a note of when you contacted them.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is completely confidential. The articles I write for the Crier are always based on true stories but I disguise the client so they could never be identified. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is at 7 Atholl Crescent. Drop in is 10am-12 noon, Monday to Friday or phone 01738 450581 for an appointment in the afternoon. If the line is busy you can leave a message and you will get a call-back. The number will come up as Withheld to protect your privacy. 01738 450580 is the Advice Line. This line is often busy but if you leave a message your call will be returned. Everything is confidential, even the fact that you visited the bureau. There is also a web-site run by the CAB. Adviceguide.org.uk covers many topics and is easy to use.