Know your rights: March’s debt news

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Justice scales law

Spin, spin, spin the wheel of justice

April is upon us and as it’s the start of the month it’s time for our regular look back at the month just gone for changes to government policy, creditor action or debt law.

Of course the big news last month concerned the Budget, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne revealing that everyone will get a new Personalised Tax Breakdown showing exactly where and how your money is spent by local and national services.

But forget 2012 – many StepChange Debt Charity clients are only just feeling the effects of the 2010 budget and the changes to Tax Credits, which are due to start from this Friday, 6thApril. If you’ve received a letter from HMRC about Tax Credits and are worried by how these changes will impact your budget you should contact our Aftercare team.

Stamping up

The price of a 1st class stamp is set to rise from 46p to 60p at the end of April as the government gave Royal Mail the right to set its own pricing structure.

Remember that you can save on postage by using our online DMP service; it’s good to be able to manage your DMP online and go green while saving money at the same time. Everyone’s a winner!

There have been interest rate changes in the mortgage market as various lenders increase mortgage rates, with Halifax and RBS-NatWest making the move to increase variable rates. If you’re a StepChange Debt Charity client with a mortgage with either lender and you’re worried abut what this will mean then give us a call so we can look at your options.

The Office of Fair Trading has released new guidance on spam text messages and unwanted emails offering debt advice or guidance. The OFT made it clear that any business looking to make a profit from such advice must first refer clients to the free not for profits organisations like ourselves. If you receive one of these texts, read our advice on what to do with spam texts.

The consumers’ association Which? has now turned an eye to price comparison websites and has concluded that sites should be regulated as they often don’t give the correct advice. Which? argued that many price comparison websites did not search the whole of the available market. If you’re using one, remember to still look around for a range of quotes.

PPI reclaiming

The personal protection insurance (PPI) story continues unabated in March as the FSA ordered the banks to contact 12 million customers who have yet to make a claim for mis-sold PPI. We blogged about reclaiming PPI in March and specifically why you shouldn’t use a third party company to help you reclaim.

This month also saw the release of a moving video by StepChange Debt Charity that perfectly illustrates the human cost of debt.

And finally, you can get great daily debt help and money management advice from us on all manner of social networks; we’re on Facebook, Google+ and YouTube. However most noticeable of all is our Twitter account, which was coincidentally named by the Guardian as one of the five best Twitter accounts to follow if you want to save money. We’re very chuffed with the honour.

That’s it for this month. If you spot any stories that you think we’ve missed then please get in touch…

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

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