Where can you get free debt help?
Financial advisers and debt management companies charge for their services, which could make your debt problems worse. Instead, get free help from debt charities like:
Citizens Advice can provide free help in person or by phone
StepChange Debt Charity can provide advice or a free debt management plan (DMP)
National Debtline can offer free advice by phone and help you set up a free DMP
PayPlan is an independent provider of free DMPs
Shelter is a housing charity that can provide advice by phone, online or in person
Christians Against Poverty can visit you at home to give advice and help you budget
Why get personal debt help?
Getting advice can help you to:
Prioritise your debts
Set a realistic budget
Plan how you will pay off your debts
Communicate with your creditors
Is it worth paying for debt help?
Depending on your financial circumstances, you may need to hire a debt management specialist. However, it is worth talking to a debt charity for free first to see if they can help you clear your debts without having to pay fees.
Where to start
Before you look for help, make a list of:
How much you owe: Contact each lender to ask for the outstanding balance.
The interest rate and how much you repay each month: Ask each lender to confirm.
Any income you earn: Check your payslip or online banking statements.
The bills you need to pay each month: Check your bank statements or your bills.
This will help you work out how much you owe and which debts you need to pay off first. You will also be able to give a clear picture of your financial situation to an adviser if you get help.
Contact your creditors
If you are struggling to keep up with repayments and likely to miss any, let your lenders know as soon as possible.
If you explain your situation and that you are willing to work with them, they may be able to help. For example, they could freeze your interest for a while or give you a repayment plan you can afford and more time to repay what you owe.
If you do not tell them, they may assume you have decided not to pay them back, so they could try to recover what you owe through a third party like a debt collector.
However, if you decide to get debt help, your adviser or charity may be able to contact your creditors for you.
Other ways to deal with debts
When you get debt advice, it may be suggested that you set up one of the following:
Administration orders let you pay back debts through a monthly payment made through the courts, which decide how much you pay based on your income.
Individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) are agreed through the courts and let you make a monthly contribution from your income, which is divided between your creditors.
Debt management plans (DMPs) are an arrangement with your creditors to define how much you will repay each month.
Bankruptcy could be recommended as a last resort. Here is how bankruptcy works and how to declare yourself bankrupt.
You can find out more about each option from GOV.UK's guide to paying off debts.
How to deal with debt collectors and bailiffs
If a lender tries to collect money you owe them, there are rules and laws that protect you. They cannot threaten you with jail or bother you at work.