Know your rights – January’s debt news

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Debt news

What’s this month’s top debt stories?

There was one big debt news story in January – and it was about us!

We ran Debt Awareness Week a couple of weeks ago and we’re dead chuffed that it made such a big splash!

We spent the week highlighting our services in the media and featured in a debt clinic on the Guardian website as well as coverage in The Sun and The Daily Mail among others.

The aim of the week was to help people recognise the danger signs of debt and prompt those who do need assistance to get help sooner. Much of the work that went into the week was inspired by our own client’s experiences which really helped us to spread the word.

Wales in the Red

As well as Debt Awareness Week we also launched a special research project on the growing debt problem in Wales. Last year saw a 44 percent increase in the number of people contacting the charity’s helpline from Wales. These figures included a shocking increase in the number of Welsh clients with payday loan problems.

Payday problems

January can be a long month for many with a long stretch between the December payday and the January one. Starting the new year deep in debt can be depressing, especially if it’s debt to high interest payday loans, as the Sun reported.

Which? also challenged payday lenders over default charges and excessive fees.

The tooth fairy usually leaves money on your pillow. She doesn’t charge high interest rates either, this is unlike payday lender Toothfairy which went bust late last year. It’s now being reported that Toothfairy was under investigation by the OFT prior to going bust.

Payday lenders also came in for a pounding from the TV when a Channel 5 News poll showed that 70% of people would like to see a ban on payday loan firms advertsing. The Daily Mail also reported on a payday loan ad banned by the Advertising Standards Authority who roundly condemned the ‘celebratory’ atmosphere of the advert.

Worse than payday lenders?

While a payday loan isn’t a good idea, borrowing money off an unlicensed loan shark is downright dangerous. The true scale of the misery exerted by criminals is now emerging as more people come forward. The Guardian reported that sixty victims of loan sharks are now in witness protection.

Cash for cash!

After all the negative publicity surrounding the payday lending industry one MP went after another ‘grotesque practice’.  Labour MP Frank Field told the Independent about the problems associated with ATM machines that charge fees for cash withdrawls.

Fix your energy!

Energy news, and there’ll be cuts from Npower who will shave 2.6% off the average bill, although customers will still be worse off thanks to a previous hike in tax. The Guardian reported that if you’re looking to switch at the moment a fixed rate deal could be the best. If you’re confused by all this try our utility switching service for some impartial advice.

That’s it for this month, remember to check back this time next month to make sure you know your rights!

At StepChange Debt Charity we want you to be free of debt and save money.

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