Knock knock, who’s there? Oh NO, it’s the Sheriffs!

A visit from a Sheriff Officer is one of the things that people in debt fear the most. But you can take away some of the fear by understanding the powers they hold and what you can do if you are expecting a visit from a Sheriff Officer about unpaid council tax debt.

Sheriff Officers are officers of the Sheriff Court and are appointed to enforce court orders. It means they hold considerable powers. It also means those powers and what they can and can’t do are strictly regulated.

Despite being officers of the court, Sheriff Officers are in fact private companies. There are lots of firms of Sheriff Officers in Scotland. Two of the biggest companies are Stirling Park and Scott and Co. Sheriff Officers can also be self employed.

A Sheriff Officer is appointed to carry out the orders of the Sheriff Court by the individual, business or organisation that asked the Sheriff Court to give the order. The Sheriff Officer that is appointed has the authority to act on behalf of the individual, business or organisation that has appointed them.

Councils may appoint a Sheriff Officer to enforce a court order from the Sheriff Court to collect unpaid council tax, non domestic rates, housing benefit overpayment or former tenant arrears. Companies may engage them to collect unpaid consumer debt.

How will Sheriff Officers try to collect unpaid council tax debt?

Sheriff Officers will try to collect the money that is owed in several different ways. The first thing they will do is ask you to contact them to put a repayment plan in place. They can request information such as employer details, National Insurance number and bank account details to help them with this.

If a repayment plan is not put in place, the creditor can return to the Sheriff Court to ask for a formal charge for payment. This gives the Sheriff Officer additional powers to collect the money. It means they can arrest your wages (take money directly from your pay packet), freeze your banks accounts and take money from your bank accounts. They can also carry out what is known as exceptional attachment. This is when the Sheriff Officer visits your home to collect your belongings and sell them to repay the debt.

If you are expecting a visit from a Sheriff Officer to collect unpaid council tax debt, here is what you need to know.

Sheriff Officers cannot enter your home at any time of the day or night

If a Sheriff Officer is visiting your home to collect your possessions to sell them to recover the unpaid debt (or, to use the official term, carry out exceptional attachment), they cannot enter your home at any time.

They must come between 8.00am and 8.00pm on Monday to Saturday. They cannot come on Sundays or on public holidays such as Christmas Day or Boxing Day.

The Sheriff Officer should write to let you know when they are coming. You must also have received a Debt Advice and Information Pack from your creditor (in the case of unpaid Council Tax, this is your local council). Read More

7 Things Not To Do When Applying for a Loan Online

Upfront Fees

When applying for a loan online never complete an application for a company who is asking for an upfront fee. Many companies will ask you to fill in an application form and then ask for a processing fee. On many occasions the loan company will ask for a fee to be taken on a date in the future, and ask for your bank details on the same day as applying for a loan. This is still an upfront fee and you should not provide your bank details to any broker. However there are plenty of payday loans online lenders where you can apply directly to lenders to avoid paying up front fees.

No Telephone Number

Any legitimate online loan company will display either a free phone or geographical telephone number. Many websites asking for an upfront fee do not display a telephone number making it difficult for the applicant to get a refund if their loan application does not proceed. Some companies will provide a telephone number which charges the caller per minute. The cost of the telephone calls should be clearly displayed. These websites should be avoided at all times, and alternatives should be sought where telephone numbers are clearly advertised and calls are charged at local rates.

No Address

Again any legitimate loan company will have a ‘Contact Us’ page on their website. On the ‘Contact Us’ page the loan company should supply would be borrowers with a full postal address, along with other details such as an email address and phone number.

Applying for a Loan Online

Lender Panels

When applying for a loan if you are using a broker, always ask how many lenders they have access to. A genuine broker should be able to tell you the names of the loan companies they work with. Avoid any brokers or online websites which state they have hundreds of lenders (there are not that many!), and also any company who will not divulge which lenders they work with.

.Org.UK

Do not apply on any loan website that has an ‘.org.uk’ suffix (the last part of the website address). Any site that has ‘.org.uk’ will not have a consumer credit licence issued by the Office of Fair Trading, and therefore is trading illegally. These suffixes are intended for charitable organisations but unfortunately some loan companies have acquired these websites.

Multiple Applications

When making a loan application online, you should carefully select the website you use. You should only make one or a maximum of two applications at the same time and follow through the progress of your application with the new short term loan lenders. If you make too many applications in a short space of time it can reduce your credit score, as the loan providers will undertake a credit search through a Credit Reference Agency for each application you make.

Guaranteed Acceptance

It is impossible for an online loan service introducer or broker to guarantee that your application has been accepted or approved. Only the lender can approve your application and only after you have signed a credit agreement. Many fee charging companies use this as a tactic prior to asking you for a fee. You should avoid any brokers or introducers that tell you your loan is approved or guaranteed before you have signed a credit agreement with the lender who is offering you the money.

Debt Elimination Methods : The Snowball

The debt snowball is a powerful method for eliminating your debt more quickly, relying on a simple strategy of paying off your smallest debts first. It is not an appropriate course of action for people who are struggling to meet their repayments, but is useful for people who are basically solvent but have large amounts of debt hanging over them.

Starting The Snowball

The basic steps to setting the snowball in motion is to list your debts in order of size, starting with the smallest, and working out a budget that allows you to meet the minimum repayments on these debts each and every month.

debt snowball

Next, you need to find some extra money from somewhere which you can use to increase the repayment on the smallest debt. This needn’t be a huge amount, and should be fairly easily found through economizing on some aspect of your spending.

Once you’ve found this extra money, resolve to add this amount to your smallest debt repayment every month, while still making the minimum repayments on your larger debts.

Clearing The Smallest Debt

At this stage, it may seem that little progress is being made, but stick with it, and in time your smallest debt will be cleared. It’s at this point that the strength of the snowball idea becomes apparent. You now need to take the entire monthly repayment that you’ve been making on the now-cleared debt, and add that to the minimum repayment you’re already making on the next smallest debt.

This should bump up the amount you’re paying off on this debt quite dramatically, without changing your overall repayments. Once this debt has been cleared, you apply the same process to the next smallest debt, and so on until you’re completely debt free.

The beauty of the snowball method is that you’ll repeatedly experience the psychological boost of clearing a debt, however small, and as your repayments move up the chain the process of clearing debts gets quicker and quicker, giving you a real sense of being in control, in contrast to the ‘getting nowhere fast’ experience of trying to clear all your debts at once.

Education without financial stress is possible by means of student loans!

With the support of financial support from the federal government, millions of students are able to pursue higher education without worrying about expenses due to education. The students are supported by the federal government according to the financial requirements of the students. Stafford loans, Parent PLUS loans and Perkins loans are some of the federal programs that are supportive to the students. To be considered for the financial aid from the government, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is to be filled and submitted by the students.

Loans to get higher education

Stafford loan is the loan program from the federal government to meet the college expenses. The repayment begins six months after graduation. The students get eligible for subsidized Stafford loans by demonstrating financial distress. In such cases the interest on the loan is taken care of by the government until the time for repayment begins. Stafford loans can be obtained either through Direct Student Loan Program or from the private lending companies through the Federal Family Education Loan Program. The parents who need loans to support the education of their wards can apply for PLUS loans called otherwise as Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students. These loans can be obtained by the applicants irrespective of financial needs. The loans are given assurance by the federal government and the fixed interest rate on the loan is 8.5%.

The interest rates on Perkins loans are lower than PLUS loans. Around 5% is charged as interest on Perkins loans for which reason the offer is highly in demand. The repayment begins 10 months after graduation. The interest on the loan is assumed by the federal government until the repayment period begins. A sum of around $4000 can be received as loan for one year and the maximum amount is $20000 in lifetime. For the graduate students the loan amount per year can be up to $6000 with a maximum of $40,000.

student loans

Federal Work Study Program enables the college students who find it hard to manage expenses while in college. You need not allow the amount of funds you receive to decide on your course or level of education. There are variety of financial support to help you undertake mass media courses. Depending on your requirements, you can opt for college loans, government loans or loans to suit your situation. These loans can be obtained either from government financial organizations or private lenders. Since the lenders of this type of loan understand and consider the situation of the students, and the fact that there is no adequate time to build credit, the terms are simple and lenient.

Education loans to support the students undertaking mass media courses are not required to work for repaying the loan. The student loan programs are specific about the students focusing on education than on settling the loans while studying. In fact, a grace period of around 6 months is allowed so that the students can get placed in employment prior to begin repaying the loan. All the student loans are generally categorized into federal loans, private loans and consolidation loans. Education grants, special grants, financial institution loans, federal loans, and other loans from federal government or private lenders are some of the sources of financial support for the students.

Federal loans are subsidized and the loans are availed through the financial institutions and the interest rates are lower. But the applicants are required to demonstrate the financial needs to get eligible for most of the offers of loans from the government. PLUS loans are offered to cover the deficiency in funds raised through other loan programs or grants. The private loans are availed by the students who do not get eligible for federal monetary support. Free Application for Federal Student Aid can be submitted to know which of the offers you qualify for. The education cost is met with the support of scholarships and grants besides loans from the government and private lending organizations.

Consolidate Your Debts With A Debt Management Plan

What Can Debt Consolidators Do For You?

The term debt consolidation is often misunderstood, or at least not fully understood. Too many people think that it simply refers to the process of taking out a big loan to pay off all your debts. This is one way to consolidate your debts, but it is rarely a wise thing to do. The other form of debt consolidation is achieved using a debt management plan to consolidate all your debts into a single payment. This is generally a much more effective solution and is the main process we will be focusing on.

What Is Wrong With Taking Out A Loan?

When you are struggling to keep up with payments on your debts, the last thing you need is to take on even more debt. When you pay off your debts with a loan, all you are doing is transferring your debts to a different creditor. They do not get any smaller and in reality they usually get bigger. This is because the new loan is usually spread over a much longer period. In doing this it means you keep on paying for much longer and ultimately end up paying far more than you would under your original debts, even though the size of your monthly payment may be smaller.

Most people who take out this type of loan end up paying more in the long run. There are a few situations when this option can be the most sensible thing to do, but they are relatively rare compared to how often they are actually used. If your existing debts are at a very high interest rate and you are able to get a new loan at much lower rates, then it may be a reasonable solution.

The key is to not be drawn into automatically including all your debts under the new loan. You should only borrow enough to pay off the debts which are at a higher interest rate. If some of your debts are at a lower interest rate than the new loan, you will just be costing yourself more from the start if you borrow money to pay them off.

Debt Management Plan

How Does A Debt Management Plan Work?

In contrast to a loan, a debt management plan is all about bringing down the amount of your debts from the very start. An advisor from the debt consolidator that you choose will talk to all of your creditors to set up different terms for paying back your outstanding debts. They will seek to get interest rates cut and even reduce or eliminate any extra fees that have been added on for late payments, etc.

When they have reached agreements with all your creditors they will be able to set up a payment plan where you just make one, smaller monthly payment to them instead of dealing with all your separate creditors. As well as being much simpler for you to organise, and keep on top of, the actual amount you are paying out will have gone down too.

Will I Qualify For A Debt Management Plan?

Professional debt consolidators operate all over the UK so you can get a debt management plan whether you are in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Exact requirements will vary from company to company, but in general you will need to be over 18 years of age and be struggling to keep up with payments on your debts. The money you owe will need to be to a few different companies, usually two or three as a minimum and the debts will need to be of the unsecured type. This includes most of the standard things like credit cards and personal loans, but you cannot include secured debts like mortgages in a debt management plan.

You will also need to have some source of steady income because you still need to be able to afford to make a regular monthly payment towards your debts. The consolidator will be looking for evidence that you have a salary or wage that is enough to leave you a certain amount spare to pay into the plan after covering your essential household expenses. Read More

Choosing Whether to get a Payday Loan

There is so much negative press about payday loans that there are probably some people that would never consider them at all. However, sometimes it may feel that you have no choice but to borrow money and if you have a poor credit record then this could be the only place to turn. It can be an option that works out well for some people, but it is worth understanding more about them before you sign up.

Firstly you will have to pay the loan back on a certain date. You will have to pay back the amount you borrowed plus the interest and this will usually happen within a few weeks, although it could be up to a month. It is very important to be aware of when this date is and to be completely sure that you will have enough money in order to cover the payment. There will normally be a fixed fee plus interest added for each day that the repayment is delayed. This will be clearly laid out in the terms and conditions of the loan and it is advisable to have a good look at this. Think about what might happen if it cannot be paid back and how much more it will cost. Make sure that you can guarantee that you can pay it back.

get a Payday Loan

There are people that take out another loan to pay back the one they have. This can lead to big problems and so should not be considered to be an option. You need to use your income to pay it back. You also have to be sure that not only will you be able to pay it back but you will be able to manage then until the next pay day without having to borrow money again.

However, there are many people that can confidently do this. They have an emergency expense and have no money left to pay it. They get the loan and then pay it back in full when they next get paid and then carefully budget so that they can manage until their next pay day. It is a matter of being well disciplined and making sure that you are confident that you will be able to manage. Then the payday loan can be a good way to get you out of an emergency situation. It is vital though, that you do the research and decide whether it really is the right thing for you and your personal situation.

How a Trust Deed works

Makes your debt repayments affordable again

During a Trust Deed, your unsecured debt repayments will be rolled into a single affordable monthly payment. You’ll only pay as much as you can afford after you’ve covered your bills and other living costs.

Writes off the unsecured debt you can’t afford

On successful completion of your Trust Deed, any unsecured debt you haven’t been able to repay is written off for good, as long as it was included in your Trust Deed – Note you may have to repay any debt not included in your Trust Deed.

Clears unsecured debts in three years

In most cases, a Trust Deed lasts three years – so you’ll have a clear date for becoming free of the debts included in the arrangement. You’ll be expected to make a payment every month during this time.

Apply for a Trust Deed

Keep in mind that you’ll only be eligible for a Trust Deed if you really need it. Your lenders are only likely to accept a Trust Deed if they can see you won’t be able to repay your unsecured debts in full within a reasonable period of time under your alternative repayment arrangements. At the same time, you must be able to commit to regular monthly payments.

Disadvantages of a Trust Deed

There are a few disadvantages to consider before you go ahead and apply for a Trust Deed.

Firstly, it will have a significant impact on your credit rating. This could make obtaining further credit more difficult for six years and if your Trust Deed fails, you could be made bankrupt.

Also remember that because you’ll be expected to pay as much as you can throughout your Trust Deed, you’ll be left with very little money for anything except your essential living costs.

And although you’ll be able to stay in your home, homeowners who enter a Trust Deed may be required to release equity from their home as part of the arrangement. Note that you may find it harder to obtain a remortgage and you may pay a higher rate of interest if you are successful.

But keep in mind that the consequences of not getting the help you need could be even more serious.

How debt consolidation works

Turns multiple debts into one manageable monthly payment

It can be difficult to keep track of your finances when several different payments leave your account every month. A debt consolidation loan enables you to completely repay multiple existing debts – effectively rolling them into one new loan – which can make dealing with your debts a lot simpler.

Reduces your debt repayments

Your new loan could also help you to reduce the amount you pay each month. For example, repaying a debt consolidation loan over five years should cost you much less per month than repaying your existing debts over three years.

The longer the repayment period, the smaller your new monthly payment will be – but remember that this also means you’ll be paying interest for longer, and you could pay more overall as a result.

Could reduce the interest rate you pay

If your debt consolidation loan has a lower interest rate than the debts you’re paying off, the amount of interest you pay could be reduced (and that means lower monthly payments). This could be especially helpful for reducing the cost of high-interest debts, such as credit cards.

Just keep in mind that if you decide to repay your new loan over a longer period of time than your original debts, you may still end up paying more interest in the long run.

debt consolidation

Simplifying your finances

A debt consolidation loan could simplify your finances by letting you repay all your existing debts in one go, leaving you making a single monthly payment to a single lender.

  • You’d be less likely to make your payments late – or forget them altogether – which means you’d be less likely to be charged or damage your credit rating (something which can really add to the cost of getting credit in the future).
  • And since you’d be making just one payment per month, budgeting should be a lot easier, as you’d know exactly how much money to set aside for it.
  • You’d also save yourself the hassle that goes with making multiple payments, checking statements, and figuring out how much debt is left, how long it’ll take you to clear it, and so on.

Reducing your monthly costs

Debt consolidation gives you a valuable opportunity to reassess your situation and really plan your finances. It’s a chance to start over with a single larger debt, rather than multiple smaller debts.

This time, when you arrange your repayment terms, you’ll already know how much you can comfortably afford to pay every month without taking up every penny of your available income.

A note about debt consolidation

If you’re thinking about debt consolidation, it’s important to recognise that repaying any debt more slowly will delay the day you’re debt free.

And unless the interest rate on your debt consolidation loan is significantly lower than on your previous debts, you might end up paying more in interest overall, as your interest will have more time to grow.

Having said that, most people who consolidate their debts figure that’s a price worth paying if it means they can bring their monthly payments down to an affordable level.

Finally, remember that securing any debt against your home should only be considered if you’re completely sure you can afford your repayments. Failing to repay a secured debt could result in the repossession of your home.

How quickly should I repay?

If your repayment period is:

  • Too long, you’ll pay less each month – but you’ll pay more than you need to in interest.
  • Too short, you’ll pay less in interest – but your monthly payments might be uncomfortably high.

In most cases, the best way forward is based on a compromise – basically, you need to arrange a repayment period which is as short as possible, but which you’re sure you’ll be able to keep up with.

Learn how PPI was mis-sold to you and make a claim now

You cannot possibly still be lost in the dark the mis-selling of PPI because it has its fair share of talk in the news and social media. The scandal that PPI brought to the financial services industry made a lot of banks and known lenders working double time to investigate on PPI claims made by their customers.

If you believe you were a victim of this mis-selling fiasco and you haven’t made a claim yet, don’t pass up the chance of getting your money back. After all, this dead policy meant to protect you by helping with you repayments in times of sickness, accident, and unemployment only made you liable to a hefty sum in premium and interest. It’s about time you learn about how you were wrongly signed up to it and reclaim your payments.

If you still haven’t got the foggiest that you’ve had PPI all along, start by looking into your account related documents. Because it’s a credit repayment policy, it has to be applied alongside your loan, credit card, or mortgage with your bank. Check your statement of account, credit agreement forms, and other bits of paperwork and see any reference to PPI. Also, a policy certificate should have been sent to you after the sale. Get these documents together as you can use them to back up your claim.

A PPI claims management firm advert in a paper

At this point you’ve got an option whether to hire the assistance of a PPI claims company or make the claim yourself. Either way, you still stand a great chance of reclaiming your money.

When you’ve organised the paperwork that you need, put your PPI claim in writing. Specify the reasons you have for having been wrongly signed up to the policy together with your intention of getting a reimbursement of the payments you made to it, including the interest. Your bank should refer to your letter, your attached documents, and the information in their database when they make an investigation.

There are some ways through which you can figure out whether you have been mis sold PPI:

• Were you informed about exclusions like pre-existing conditions?
• Did they inform you that most of the PPI from the one time premium payment is for 5 years?
• Have you been informed that even after 5 years you will still have to pay interest on the initial premium since the premium is directly added to the loan?
• Did they inform that the premium will be added to the loans and subject to the interest?
• Did they ask you whether you are self-employed or unemployed?

PPI claims generally take 6 or 8 weeks to be reviewed and decided on. However, if they to be more complex than expected, or lack in evidence, they may take longer. To find out the progress of your claim if you feel that the bank has been taking quite longer, you can contact them to follow up. On the other hand, a decision will be ready for you and they will have to notify you about it.

If it happens that they rejected your claim, decided contrary to how evident that mis-selling took place, or they deliberately ignored your correspondence, lodge a complaint against them at the Financial Ombudsman Service. The Ombudsman will help you resolve the matter further and when successful, will require your bank to provide a full refund of the PPI premium you paid for, plus the interest it rolled in over time.

How can I lower my monthly debt payments?

Debt management is a way to lower your monthly payments on your unsecured debts – such as credit card balances, an overdraft, a personal loan, or a Hire Purchase agreement – if you’re struggling with your existing payments.

Debt management can’t lower your mortgage payments, however – you would need to speak to your mortgage provider (who may be able to give you a temporary ‘payment holiday’ until your circumstances improve).

If you cannot afford your mortgage payments because of unsecured debts, and you enter into a debt management plan, your mortgage will be considered a priority over other forms of borrowing. This means you could reduce your unsecured debt repayments to help you afford your mortgage, if you’re really struggling.

Debt-Management

What is debt management?

Debt management is an informal agreement with the people you owe money to, where you agree to pay back what you can afford every month towards all of your unsecured debt.

You’ll only qualify for debt management if you’re already struggling to repay what you owe every month. This could happen for all sorts of reasons – perhaps you’ve had a change in circumstances and can’t manage your payments anymore? Whatever your reason, there are people who can help.

Lenders would only agree to lower payments if they knew you could afford to repay what you owed within a reasonable amount of time – they don’t have to agree to it at all.

While debt management has helped many people out of a difficult situation, there are consequences. Lowering the amount you repay every month damages your credit record – making further borrowing more difficult for at least three years. And you may end up paying more interest overall, as you’ll be paying it for longer.

However, debt management can be flexible, and if your circumstances improve enough you will return to repaying your debts as normal.