They say there are two things best not discussed in pubs, politics and religion. I’m here to tell you of a third thing not to disclose or discuss, don’t tell anyone you are a debt adviser. If you are one and disclose it, the response you will usually receive is, “do I need to talk to you”. And that my friend, is the end of a quiet pint and reading the paper.
As a debt adviser, or should I say senior debt adviser, that sounds much better, I get asked a lot, who should I go to for advice, advice on my debts and finances? Where can I get help with my debts?
There are many companies out there offering advice and assistance for those in debt or financial difficulties.
A starting point for many people is to phone the bank or credit card company that has the account, explaining that they are either going to be late with a payment or just cannot pay at all. For many bank or creditors, they may not really be able to do much of anything for you; they just want you to pay what is owed and that is that. Some creditors may refer you to an outside agency, but it would be the same if you were to find an outside company as well.
Next there are some charities set-up that state they can help people with their debt issues and personal finances. I can only share my experiences with what some of these charities can offer. Some may have qualified personnel who are experienced and trained in not only what options are available to someone in debt, but also what the ramifications are of each of these options and how they would relate to that person’s unique situation, however this is not what I have found. I would place these in the minority, and not the majority of these services.
It is not just enough knowing the options a person may have with their debts, but those options may need to be tailored for that person’s situation as there can be different aspects for everyone, and there can also be negative aspects of an option to be explained and/or avoided.
Something interesting and factual, as in it happened quite a few times, was a few different charities phoning me asking me for advice for their client. There are two things wrong with this scene, one is the charity may not have all the needed information for me to properly “help” them with this, as they are not trained in knowing what to ask, and secondly, why would the person who is seeking the advice not just contact me directly? Granted they may not know how to contact me, but the charity could simply say here is Jon’s number, he is a professional debt adviser and financial counselor, ring him.
So lastly that brings us to the debt advice organizations and debt management firms that are out there assisting people with debt issues on a daily basis. Many of these companies have qualified people to help you in finding a solution for your debt or financial problem. And all should be licensed by the OFT/Office of Fair Trading, which has put into place guidelines for all debt companies to abide by.
But the best advice I can really give anyone seeking debt advice, is to find someone you feel comfortable with. A person or firm that not only listens to you, but also gives you impartial advice, not pushing you towards one programme or service. They listen to your situation and what you want to accomplish, and then advise you on what all the options are, and why those options will or will not work for you, and what the hazards may be for you, based on your circumstances, if you were to chose a particular option.
I would say when you find this person or company, this is who you want to work with for your debt advice and what services they have to offer.
Jon Emge is Senior Debt Advisor and Financial Counsellor and has been working in the personal finance industry since 1987, and has been advising people of debt solutions and providing bankruptcy advice in the UK as well as ROI, America and worldwide, since 1996.