Know your rights – October’s debt news

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Know your rights - September's debt news

Know your rights – October’s debt news

Looming internet plan price hikes, tax refund scam emails and the mounting cost of debt problems in the UK – with all this doom and gloom flying about, it’s little wonder that so many of us are struggling to sleep at night.

There is some good news however for those of you on the lookout for a better energy deal. Also, if you owe money to Wonga you may have received a letter telling you that your debt will be written off due to mistakes made in the past.

It’s been a busy month for debt news, so let’s take a look at these top stories and more…

The big Wonga write-off 

Wonga recently sent out an email to hundreds of thousands of their customers letting them know that due to previous mistakes, they would be reducing their loan balances or cancelling them altogether.

According to an article from the BBC, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) decided that Wonga had issued loans to a lot of customers without checking if they could realistically pay the money back. Wonga have since changed the way they approve loans, to check they’re affordable.

Want to find out more information? We have a page dedicated to the Wonga write-off on our website.

Watch out for tax refund scam emails!

Tax season approaches, so everyone needs to be extra wary of fraudulent phishing emails promising a plump tax rebate. It’s no coincidence that these emails seem to be on the rise, especially when you consider that many of us are bracing ourselves for the big Christmas shop.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is warning taxpayers to be on their guard after nearly 75,000 fake emails were reported over the last six months. These emails are a little too personal for comfort, often asking for your name, address, date of birth, bank and credit card details, and other sensitive information including passwords and your mother’s maiden name. Giving this information over could result in money being stolen from your bank account.

HMRC will never contact you by email if you’re due a tax refund. They will instead notify you in writing. Visit the HMRC website for a list of scam email addresses you need to be on the lookout for.

Easing of energy bill costs for pensioners

An extra 200,000 pensioners will get help with their energy bills this winter, according to an article from the BBC.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme – funded by various energy companies – is now worth £140 per household. Everyone who receives Pension Credit Guarantee will be entitled to the scheme, which is fantastic news for lots of people who may struggle to stay warm this winter.

Hundreds of thousands of people on low incomes can also claim the discount, which in most cases is applied automatically by energy suppliers. It’s worth noting however that in most cases, people will need to ask for the discount for it to be applied. Go to the link above to find out more.

Glasgow City Council says no to further high street bookies

Due to an increasing concern over the number of betting shops and payday lenders on Glasgow’s streets, the council has announced that it will be backing a crackdown on further premises opening up, according to a recent article from STV. A report by city treasurer Paul Rooney outlined plans to use planning permission restrictions to prevent such shops from springing up without express permission from the council.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Glasgow gamblers spend £200m a year on fixed odds betting terminals. If you have worries over gambling – whether you own or those of someone close to you – read our article on gambling debts.

The high cost of debt

According to our recent press release, debt problems are costing the UK £8.3bn and causing untold damage to family life, mental and physical health, not to mention the effect it has on our jobs, the NHS, local government and other agencies.

For a breakdown of the staggering total, take a look at our Social Cost of Problem Debt report page. 

Be an energy shopper!

There’s good news with anyone who’s had it up to the back teeth with rising energy bill costs. The energy regulator Ofgem has recently brought in a number of reforms to the energy market to help energy shoppers get a better deal.

They’ve also made personalised energy bills a bit easier to understand. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel like they’re written in an alien language, so I’m really happy to hear this.

You can get the lowdown on all these changes over at Be an Energy Shopper. Don’t forget to check out our handy blogposts on switching utilities and cost-cutting tips for students too, which feature some great infographics from Be an Energy Shopper.

Britain to repay £2bn First World War debt

Breaking away from our usual line-up of personal debt news, the Independent recently reported that the UK is taking steps to repay the £2bn debt it originally borrowed to finance the First World War.

The debt had not previously been paid off because the Government has to pay relatively little interest on it, having paid a total of £1.26bn since 1917.This amounts to roughly £13m a year, a relatively small item on the Government’s balance sheet in today’s terms.

If you owe a debt that’s over 100 years old, please don’t fret! Chances are it may be statute barred 😉

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Rachel Connor has been with the charity for over 8 years, starting in Helpline before joining the MoneyAware team in 2012. Rach enjoys travelling, video games, watching anime, reading and creative writing in her spare time (currently writing a Young Adult fantasy series). She had a previous life as head writer on Cartoon Network's Ed Edd n Eddy and as a copywriter for LivingSocial. She's also written comics and graphic novels for the animated series Regular Show.

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