Money and credit
OFT is checking that debt management companies are complying
with standards for dealing fairly and openly with consumers.
It is asking consumers and free debt advisers for details of
These pages aim
to help you to take control of your spending and avoid getting
into debt. If you are in debt you'll find out where to get free
all sometimes spend far more than we mean to. It is all too
easy to get the things we want without stopping to work out
how we will pay for them when the bills roll in.
people get into debt because they have bought things with a credit
card, a credit agreement or a loan and have then got behind with the
repayments. Perhaps they did not budget carefully enough in the first
place and agreed to a payment plan they couldn't possibly keep. Or
perhaps things changed and they suddenly had less money coming in.
are lots of times when it makes sense to borrow money, either by
getting credit or taking out a loan. The trouble is, it is not always
easy to work out exactly how much it will cost us. There are so
many competing schemes to choose from that most of us need advice
on how to get the best deal.
pages will help you if you are thinking of borrowing money, want
to know the best way to get credit or take out a loan, or find
you can't keep up the repayments.
the answers to these questions before you sign:
How much will the credit cost you compared with other similar deals?
Compare the APRs. Usually the lower it is, the less you pay. But there
may be other charges not included in the the APR, so find out what these
are. You need to be sure how much you are paying in total.
Is your home being used as security?
If your home is used as security for a loan and you don't keep up repayments,
you could lose it.
Is it the best deal and interest rate you can get?
Buying credit is like buying anything else – you shop around for the
goods so do the same for the credit. The credit offered to you when
you buy may not be
the best deal.
Do you fully understand the credit agreement form you're about to sign?
Don't be pressured into signing a deal at the till – if you don't understand
it, take it away and get advice. Remember you can't change your mind
if you sign in the shop.
Will the interest rate stay the same?
Ask if the interest rate is fixed or will change. Find out if the rate
offered is an introductory rate.
Are there extra charges if you repay the debt early?
Some lenders charge an extra fee if you pay a loan off early.
What happens if you miss a payment?
There are often penalty fees if you miss a payment which can greatly
increase how much you will have to pay back.
What do you have to pay each month and for how long?
It's important to look at how long you'll pay back as well as how much.
For example £20 each month may be affordable but if it's for 10 years
you're paying back a lot more than if it's for two years.
What's the total amount that you will pay back?
The longer the period of the loan the more you'll pay back. That's why
it's important to pay off as much as you can each month on a credit
card – the longer you take to pay back the more it will cost you.
Can you take the credit agreement away to consider at your leisure?
A credit agreement is a legal document – you need
to read it carefully before you sign.