Stop the #DebtThreats image of someone holding bills

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Each year over 100,000 people in problem debt attempt to take their own lives in England. There are normally a wide range of issues that contribute to someone in debt becoming suicidal, but research shows that one key factor is the intimidating letters they receive from lenders. 

By law, these letters include scary and confusing language, and often feature threats of court action at the top. Receiving these letters from multiple lenders on a daily basis can leave people feeling panicked, hopeless and unable to see a solution to their situation. 

With millions of people more likely to fall into debt in the coming years because of the economic impact of coronavirus, there is a real risk that these intimidating debt letters will contribute to unnecessary lost lives.

The government can easily address this problem, by updating rules on the content of debt letters contained in the Consumer Credit Act (1974).  We’re calling on the Government to update this out-of-date legislation, by creating new rules requiring creditors to use easy-to-understand language in letters, and to signpost people to sources of support for their debt.

Small changes to these rules would make debt letters less threatening and more supportive. Not only will that help more people deal with debt problems, it will save lives.

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Why we’re campaigning

Steve’s story

A picture of Steve, our Expert by Experience

Read about Steve’s experiences of receiving intimidating letters from lenders:

“I have experienced bouts of anxiety and depression at various times in my life, but one of the worst periods was around five years ago, when I was made redundant from my job. My wife had just gone on maternity leave for our second child, and we had recently moved home.

I managed to find work for one day a week, but it was a real struggle financially. The bills were mounting up, and I started receiving letters from companies telling me to ‘pay now’ or warning that if we didn’t make a payment by a certain time, we could go to court.

It’s stressful to open those letters, and to get them on a daily basis. Even for small amounts, you have companies telling you they’re going to send the bailiffs. Something as simple as rewording those letters, to make them less intimidating and let you know there is help and support out there, could make all the difference.”

We’re delighted to be supported by:

The logos of the organisations supporting our Stop the Debt Threats campaign

 

Our campaign is also supported by the following financial firms: Barclays Bank, Nationwide Building Society, Monzo Bank, Metro Bank and Virgin Money.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal feelings, financial difficulties or mental health problems, there is advice and support out there. For 24-hour support you can call the Samaritans on 116 123.