Where to get debt help

By Jemma Porter

Debts often rise much more quickly than they fall, so it is important to deal with them as soon as possible. If you are currently in a difficult financial situation, help is available. article-credit-cards-older-americans

A licensed credit counsellor can help you make sense of your financial options and help you plan your way out of debt.

Here's what you need to know about the counselling options available to you.

What is credit counselling?
A credit counselling or debt counselling service helps individuals with financial difficulties by providing independent and realistic debt advice. Individuals can expect to receive advice on how to budget, how to use credit, how to work through processes such as bankruptcy and, if necessary, how to set up debt management plans that you can negotiate with creditors.

If you are experiencing financial problems and are struggling to keep up with repayments and paying household bills, contacting one of these services may provide some relief. However, you are never under any obligation to take the advice of a credit counselling service.

How do I know if the company is legitimate?
Individuals looking for free debt help should start by researching the available charities and companies online. First, determine whether the service is licensed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Then check out their website and find out whether you will be required to pay a charge for their services. If so, look elsewhere. There are plenty of highly respected charities that provide free UK debt advice. 

Top credit charities in the UK
Here are some of the most respected credit charities in the United Kingdom:

  • StepChange Debt Charity (formerly the Consumer Credit Counselling Service): StepChange is the leading UK debt advice charity. It provides numerous free services, including debt advice, money management, debt management plans and bankruptcy support. You can contact StepChange by calling 0800 138 1111 or by visiting their website: http://www.stepchange.org/.
  • The National Debtline: The National Debtline, a part of the Money Advice Trust, is a debt helpline people in the UK with debt problems. The service provides UK debt advice for people who call in and sends out self-help packs and factsheets to clients. It also helps set people up with debt management plans and debt relief orders. You can contact National Debtline by calling 0808 808 400 or by visiting their website: http://www.nationaldebtline.co.uk/.
  • Debt Advice Foundation: Debt Advice Foundation, a member of AdvicedUK, is a charity registered in England and Wales with the mission of helping people struggling to manage debts. The charity provides one-to-one advice, education guides for school children and has established a Money Education Centre. You can contact Debt Advice Foundation by calling 0800 043 40 50 or by visiting their website: http://www.debtadvicefoundation.org/.
  • Christians Against Poverty: Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a national credit counselling charity that provides advice and guidance on debt, helps people create budgets, explains bankruptcy processes and much more. The service is provided to individuals at their home so is only available to people living nearby a CAP centre. You can contact CAP by calling 01274 760720 or by visiting their website: http://www.capuk.org.

See related: What you need to know about debt management plans; 6 tips for dealing with debt stress

Published: 9 December 2011