IMPORTANT - Where to seek professional impartial advice about your debts.

edited 12 March 2014 at 6:57PM in Debt-Free Wannabe
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edited 12 March 2014 at 6:57PM in Debt-Free Wannabe
First of all, please start off by reading the main MSE site article:

Problem Debts: what to do and where to get help

Also, check out the info in the other stickies on this board.

However, if you need impartial professional advice on your debts then please heed the advice in the problem debts article.

Most importantly that:

The right people to go to...


The aim is to find non-profit debt counselling help. In other words, a one-on-one session with someone paid to help you, not to make money out of you. Be careful not to confuse this with ‘free help’: many commercial companies say they’re free as you’re not charged directly, but you’ll still pay somehow.

Stop debt collectors harrassing you for 30 days

These non-profit agencies are also the ideal people to go to if you're being harassed and bullied for payments by debt collection agencies.

An agreement between the Government and Credit Services Association, the body that represents debt collecting agents (see its Code of Practice), gives new power that guarantees debt collectors won't contact you for at least 30 days, provided you've sought debt help or, since July 2011, can show you are trying to repay your debts using a self-help tool.

The debt counselling service will inform collectors, who'll then give you a month's breathing space to get yourself on a better footing.

The places we'd suggest contacting are:

Christians Against Poverty


Debt counselling agency, which specialises in helping those who are emotionally struggling too. The religious focus is why they do it, not how they do it.

Citizens Advice Bureau


Full debt and consumer advice service. Many bureaux have specialist caseworkers to deal with any type of debt, including repossessions and negotiation with creditors.

Community Legal Advice (includes Housing Duty Scheme)


Legal advice on a wide range of issues, including debt (usually for those on benefits or a low income). The Housing Duty Scheme gives free advice by phone or at around 100 courts across England and Wales if you are in danger of eviction or repossession.
  • Link: Community Legal Advice
  • Tel: 0845 345 4345 (or text 'legalaid' and name to 80010 to get a call back)
  • Opening times: Mon - Fri 9am - 6.30pm, Sat 9am - 12.30pm

StepChange Debt Charity (formerly CCCS)


A full debt help service in available across the United Kingdom. Online support is also available via its Debt Remedy tool and vulnerable people (due to age, mental health or capacity) are able to get extra help support via the free advocacy service.
  • Link: StepChange Debt Charity
  • Tel: 0800 138 1111 (also free from mobiles)
  • Opening Times: Mon - Fri 8am to 8pm, Sat 9am to 3pm

Debt Advice Foundation


A debt advice and education charity offering one to one advice.

Debt Support Trust


The Debt Support Trust is a not-for-profit debt advice charity covering England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland via it's phone, email or online debt analyser tool.
  • Link: Debt Support Trust
  • Tel: 0800 085 0226 (or [EMAIL=""]email[/EMAIL])
  • Opening times: Mon - Fri 8am to 7pm

National Debtline


A full debt help service in England, Scotland and Wales. Online advice is also available via its My Money Steps tool.

Northern Irish residents


A confidential and independent scheme in Northern Ireland is Debt Action NI. This government funded service offers face to face advice in over 20 locations.



Free debt advice and solutions for those in financial difficulty.
  • Link: Payplan
  • Tel: 0800 280 2816
  • Opening Times: Mon - Fri 8am to 9pm, Sat 9am to 3pm

Local agencies

There may be a local debt help agency in your area. If so check it is non-profit or a charity, before signing up. Try looking in your local yellow pages or asking your council if they know of organisations that can help

What they do to help

These counsellors use a variety of techniques, such as:
  • Negotiating with creditors to freeze your interest.
  • Placing you on a debt management plan (DMP) where they negotiate with your creditors (see some stats on DMPs from StepChange Debt Charity).
  • Point you towards an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement), Debt Relief Order or even bankruptcy (not as scary as it sounds).
They will certainly show you how to prioritise the most important debts to enable you to keep food on the table and a roof over your head.

I know many people are nervous about going, and imagine it'll be like being in the headteacher's office at school, but they're not judgmental. They're not there to tell you off, just to help you sort out the problem. Talking to them may help you sleep at night.

Unfortunately the counselling services can be oversubscribed. If it takes time to get an appointment with them, use the info on their websites to start to plan.

The wrong people to go to...


Avoid any debt help or loan consolidation companies that advertise on the telly or in some newspapers. Their job is to make money out of you, plain and simple. While in the short term their plans will make your payments lower, in the long run it'll cost you dear. Avoid them. Don't touch them. Don’t go near them.

This post from the forum explains it better than we ever could:
"We, my wife and I, are on a seven-year plan with StepChange Debt Charity" [formerly the CCCS, one of my suggested agencies – Martin] "having recently changed from a commercial debt management company after hearing Martin on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show. The simple action of swapping to StepChange Debt Charity has shaved over two years off the length of our plan as the money we were paying the management company now goes to our creditors instead! Of course, that also means a financial saving of nearly eight grand over the term of the original plan's 10 year period."
This includes IVAs and debt-wiping companies. While they sound good, they're only for a few people. If either is for you, the debt counselling agencies should suggest it.

Free/impartial debt advice: National Debtline | StepChange Debt Charity | Find your local CAB

IVA & fee charging DMP companies: Profits from misery, motivated ONLY by greed


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