Are you in debt and in need of some help?
Debt can be overwhelming; whether your situation has recently changed and you are starting to struggle with your bills or if you have debts which have built up over time and seem impossible to deal with.
There are a number of agencies in the Vale of Glamorgan that are able to assist with debt managment and advice.
Taking steps now to deal with the problem will stop things getting any worse. Always use an independent advisor - They can help you to sort out your budget, decide which bills need to be paid first, and how much you can afford to pay.
Where can I get advice?
There are a number of ways to get money advice:
- If you are a Council or Housing Association tenant, contact your landlord to get advice about paying your rent. They may also be able to offer general advice about money issues.
- Independent website also offer money and debt advice, some of which include 'money calculators' to help you manage your money. These includethe Money Advice Service, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, the National Debtline and Directgov.
- You may prefer to speak to an advisor over the phone. The Citizens Advice Bureau, Housing Debt Helpline Wales and the National Debtline have trained advisors who will discuss your money issues with you and help find a realistic way forward; these organisations are indepenfent and your information will be kept confidential.
- If you would like a face to face appointment to discuss your money issues you can contact The Citizens Advice Bureau to make an appointment.
If you are thinking of taking a loan to pay your debts or to see you through a 'difficult' patch, think carefully about whether this is the best option.
Before you go ahead always:
- Get independent advice
- Think about whether you can reduce your outgoings to leave you with more money at the end of the month to pay off your debt.
- Find out if you are claiming all of the benefits you are entitled to, or other ways to increase your income.
If you decide to go ahead with a loan think carefully about the type of loan that would be best for you.
Depending on your circumstances you may be able to get an interest free Crisis Loan, Budgeting Loan or Community Care Grant from the Government's Social Fund. Remember that loans have to be repaid from your benefits, but a Community Care Grant does not.
Credit Union Loan
If a Crisis Loan or Budgeting Loan isn't suitable for you, think about joining the Credit Union. Credit Unions are non profit making financial organisations which basically work as savings and loan co-operatives. they aim to help you take control of your money by encouraging you to save what you can, and borrow only what you can afford to repay. The help people who can't get help from an ordinary bank but offer the same government protection as bank savings accouns and are regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
Doorstep Lenders and Unlicensed Money Lenders (Loan Sharks)
Although some 'doorstep lenders' are acting legally, they generally charge extremely high rates of interest and may mislead you about the amount of money you will end up repaying.
Money lenders who operate without a licence from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) are commonly known as 'loan sharks'. They work illegally and their interest rates means that the amount of money you owe them may actually increase over time - you are unlikely to ever be free of their demands. They often use threats of violence to ensure borrowers make payments, and should be avoided at all costs.
You can check if someone has a licence by searching the Office of Fair Trading's Consumer Credit Register. In general avoid any lender who approaches you direct, and if you think that a loan shark is working in your area report them in confidence to the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit (WIMLU). Remember that if you are a victim of a ' loan shark' you have not acted illegally - the offence has been committed by the lender. WIMLU will not take action against you but will try to help to get you back on the right track.
Common Myths about Loan Sharks