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Credit card bills set to land, as demand for debt advice leaps PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 16 January 2017
Demand for debt advice is surging this January, according to new figures from National Debtline, the free advice service run by the Money Advice Trust.  The news comes as many credit card bills begin to arrive through letterboxes this week.

Calls to National Debtline in the first eight working days of 2017 are up 17 percent compared to the same period in January 2016, with the number of people seeking online advice from the service rising by 55 percent so far this year. The rise follows a Christmas that the charity’s research shows one in three Britons (33 percent) put on credit, with an estimated 5.5 million expecting to fall behind this month as a result of festive spending.

National Debtline advised 8,635 people by phone from 3rd to12th January, compared to 7,381 in the equivalent period last year. In the month to 12th January, 22,581 people went online for advice from National Debtline, compared to 14,583 in the equivalent period last year.

The charity had previously warned it was expecting its busiest January “in years”, after seeing its busiest month in the run-up to Christmas since 2012. Bank of England figures released this month showed that consumer credit grew by 11 percent in the twelve months to November – its highest rate of growth since 2005.

Meanwhile, National Debtline research, conducted online by YouGov, showed that just one in eight British adults have a plan to repay any debts they currently owe.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “As the first credit card bills of 2017 begin to arrive through letterboxes this week, many people will be worrying about how to cope. At National Debtline we are seeing a big leap in the number of people coming to us for help online and by phone – and yet we know that many more will be struggling with financial problems on their own.

“With the UK economy entering a period of significant uncertainty and inflation beginning to creep up, it is important that households use the start of the year to take stock of their personal finances – and take action to deal with any debts now.

“Our message is simple – if you get your credit card bill this month and are unsure how you will be able to pay, you don’t have to face the problem alone. Free advice is available from charity-run services like National Debtline, who can guide you on how to contact your creditors and make a plan to repay what you owe.”

Three tips for dealing with credit card debts from National Debtline

1. Open your statements and reminders
It may feel like the last thing you want to do, but sit down and open all of your credit card statements and reminders. Next, make a list of what you owe, and the interest rate and payment dates for each. This is the first step to getting on top of your situation and taking action to reduce your debts.

2. Set up a direct debit or reminders for payment dates
A good way to make sure you don’t miss payment dates is to sign up to make your monthly credit card payments by direct debit. Alternatively, if you prefer not to set up a direct debit, you can set reminders of when payments are due. This will help avoid missing payment dates which can lead to extra fees being added to your debts.

3. If you are struggling to keep up, seek free advice
If you are unable to afford even your minimum payments or worry that you won’t be able to do so when your credit card bills arrive, then seek free and independent advice from a charity-run service like National Debtline as soon as possible.

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