In the UK debt management companies operate in a similar way to those in the US by offering debt help and advice, debt consolidation and Debt Management Plans. However, there is a difference in the way in which they
are regulated. In the UK regulations are tight; debt management companies are licensed and usually follow a strict code of practice, which we will discuss later.
In September 2010 the US Federal Trade Commission issued new rules relating to companies trading in the debt management or debt consolidation industry. This was in response to the many problems that had been faced by US consumers when dealing with these companies.
Under these rules companies are required to disclose certain information to the consumer at the outset. This information includes the amount of fees that are being charged, the period that the Debt Management Plan will run for and the fact that being on a Debt Management Plan can adversely affect a person’s credit status. The rules also state that no upfront fees can be charged, and there are guidelines relating to the operation of bank accounts by debt management companies.
These new rules give the consumer more protection. However, the regulation of debt management companies varies throughout America with each State having its own laws relating to licensing in the industry. This means
that the level of consumer protection also varies.
The UK Position
In the UK, on the other hand, all debt management companies are regulated by the Financial Services Authority, which regulates every business selling financial services in the UK. It sets out guidelines for companies involved in the industry and has the power to lay down rules and enforce the law.
In addition, any company involved in the provision of financial services to consumers must hold a Consumer Credit Licence in accordance with the Consumer Credit Act. The Office of Fair Trading, which is a government department that works on behalf of consumers, has responsibility for keeping an up-to-date register relating to Consumer Credit Licences. Members of the public can search the register to check whether companies hold a licence, and whether companies have been refused a licence or had their licences revoked for any reason.
Another body involved in the debt management industry is the Debt Managers Standards Association (DEMSA), which is regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Although membership of this organisation is not compulsory, it sets standards for its members to follow and has a Code of Conduct. Member companies are required to follow this Code of Conduct and are encouraged to operate to high standards.
There are several debt solutions available in the UK and a debt management company will recommend a suitable one for their clients depending on certain factors. These factors include the level of debt, whether the client is a home owner and how much disposable income the client has available for the repayment of debts. Three of the main types of assistance available in the UK are Debt Management Plans, Individual Voluntary Arrangements and Debt Relief Orders.
Debt Management Plan
A Debt Management Plan is suitable for the repayment of unsecured debts, which should total at least £2000 and be owed to two or more creditors. A person who enters into a Debt Management Plan should have at least £100
available for the repayment of their debts.
This arrangement is less formal than an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) and is not legally binding. It also enables the individual to retain his anonymity because details are not entered on the publicly available Insolvency Register.
Individual Voluntary Arrangements
An Individual Voluntary Arrangement is a legally binding agreement, which has to be administered by a licensed Insolvency Practitioner who will usually be a qualified solicitor or accountant. It is a more formal arrangement than a Debt Management Plan, and is a means of avoiding bankruptcy. Although the client loses his anonymity, it has the advantage of barring creditors from taking enforcement action against anyone during the agreement.
Debt Relief Orders
This arrangement, debt relief order is usually applicable for non-homeowners who have few assets and little disposable income. It enables the client to have his debts written off after a year. The guidelines are that debts must not exceed £15,000, assets must be worth less than £300 and the client’s disposable income should be less than £50 per month.
Each of these types of arrangements has specific guidelines and members of the public can access details of these guidelines through different companies such as Baines & Ernst, an organisation that gives support to people in debt.
The fact that you are here on this website trying to learn more about personal finance is a good start! There are the basics: developing a budget, living within your means, and having an emergency fund that could surve as a buffer if ever you lose your job, get a bill you were not expecting, fall ill, things like that. Once you have that covered, and you have saved a little something extra you should think about how you can make your money work for you.
Consider your plans for the future, your lifestyle and, ultimately your goals! Once you can imagine and conceive it, you are on your way. Keep reading and researching, make sure you are up to date on current events and financial trends. There are constantly new ideas for investments and plans that will make
your cash work harder for you.
Besides high interest savings accounts, you could look into stocks and shares. If you don’t feel confident enough to invest alone, seek professional expertise and get someone to do it for you. Bullion Vault, your
bank advisor could help you look into more secure investments perhaps, like buying gold or time-locked accounts. In this shaky economic climate, you are really doing yourself a favour by planning for the future. Once you have saved a certain amount, there are many ways that you could increase its value.
Passive income, like renting out property may also be a good idea. However, like with all other investments make sure you do your homework well before signing up for anything! Whichever way you choose to invest though, make that list of goals. Once you can dream clearly of the successful, comfortable future you wish for, you can take the right financial steps to making it reality! Start today!
There is bad debt.
There is also good debt.
In today’s media laden world there are more and more financial experts proclaiming the only way to live life in this economy is to be debt free. Hey, don’t get me wrong I happen to like much of what Dave Ramsey preaches about credit and debt but I disagree about totally wiping out all of your debt, painfully living below your means, and eating beans and rice until you can afford the steak. That’s no way to live life richly! Rather it’s my belief each of us to adopt proper personal finance skills in order to keep the bad debt from taking over your life.
In this world there are good forms of debt that we all must use to make life’s freedom possible. An example of a good debt is the home mortgage which can be leveraged to build equity or for investing in a property that creates you a form of income through rent. We’ve failed in America in teaching which debt is good and which is bad. Even consumer credit such as credit cards can be good if properly used. We need to educate about the differences.
It’s my premise that bad debt is really just bad behavior by the consumer. We need to be aware of our behavior which is causing damage to our personal finances, credit reports, and scores. We need to be vigilant about correcting wrongs in the way we handle money and in our credit reports. We need to educate ourselves about the good forms of credit that add asset value to our personal worths! We will be discussing and learning strategies in future blog posts!
Until then I want you to reflect on this… living life richly in America today probably includes:
- Earned Income (Job)
- Capital Gains (From Investments)
- Passive Income (From Rental Investments)
- Credit Cards
- Other lines of credit
On your journey towards a high personal worth, please order a juicy steak to celebrate the small wins!
The Orchard Bankcard is a low limit card but carries some good features for those with poor credit. If your credit score is less than 600 this is a good card to apply for. Opening limits are usually in the $300 dollar range. Also keep in mind that with a low credit score under 600 you will have a high interest rate on this card. The interest rate is not the concern it is just carrying a card that you pay off the balance each month and have it reported as a positive credit line in your credit reports.
Key call-outs for this credit card for folks with poor credit:
- An Excellent Credit Card for Rebuilding Credit Scores; Reports to 3 Major Credit Bureaus Monthly!
- Acceptance at Millions of Locations Worldwide, Including Website Purchases and Reservations
- Your Account Information is Updated and at Your Fingertips 24/7 So You Can Manage It Your Way
- Email and Text Messages to Remind You of Your Upcoming Payment Due Date with Online Enrollment
- On-Call Customer Service Representatives to Assist You with Questions or Concerns
Disputing Inquiries on Your Credit File
It is a known fact that if you have applied for various lines of credit in a short span of time it will adversely affect your credit score. I would like to suggest in cases where you were not the one initiating the inquiry, such as mortgage loan or auto dealership, a third party was trying to get you approved via multiple lenders you must take time to despite the inquiry on your credit files. Disputing inquiries on your credit file is an important part of your credit repair journey. Each inquiry can mean a 5 point drop of your score. I have seen evidence of someone having a car loan approved but it was after six lenders were pinged and resulted in 30 point drop in the consumers credit score. That’s the danger of not demanding limited inquiries when purchasing a car or home.
There a couple types of inquiries on your credit files. The first is “soft” inquiry where a creditor is buying data from the credit reporting agencies to help them market preapproved offers to consumers. Another form of soft inquiries is when a creditor does a check-up on a consumer who already has an account with them. For instance, American Express is known to run a soft inquiry on cardholders each year to determine if the cardholder is worthy of the account. The second type of inquiry is a “hard” inquiry which is initiated by the consumer and is an indicator that the consumer is seeking credit. Hard credit hits are the ones we need to address.
If you have multiple inquiries they do adversely affect your credit score so one of the first things you should do in your credit repair journey is dispute them. Persistently disputing of these can lead to removal which will in return raise your score up to 5 points per inquiry. Even though credit report inquiries rotate off your credit file in two years it is best to keep disputing them to keep them off your records and out of your scores impact.
I have a good proven letter here to show you how to dispute inquiries on your credit files. It is free with sign-up of my newsletter.