Formal Service action will only be taken in cases of persistent and irresponsible indebtedness. So it's better to seek help as soon as possible. Don't be embarrassed or ashamed to talk to your Chain of Command in the first instance. They will put you in contact with the relevant organisations that can help you.
If you are concerned about debts, you should set aside some time to go through your finances and assess your situation. You need to
- Make a list of all of your creditors and then divide these into priority or non-priority debts. Then you need to contact them to let them know that you're having difficulties and to see if you can come to some arrangement - see Dealing with people you owe money to.
- Sort out your finances - see our 5-step plan in Dealing with debt.
- Contact your local authority if you're having difficulty paying your Council Tax and make sure you claim Council Tax Relief (CTR) if you've returned from deployment - see Council Tax arrears.
- Speak to your lender if you're getting behind with your mortgage - they must follow a set of conditions called a ‘pre-action protocol’ to help you keep your home - see Home repossession notices.
If things get nasty
If things get really bad and you are faced with aggressive debt collectors, they might try and get their money back by sending a bailiff to your home. Bailiffs can only be instructed once court action has been taken; their job is to take away things that belong to you and sell them to reduce or repay your debt. If you live in SFA, especially ‘inside the wire’ your Unit Commanding Officer may not let them in, but you still need to deal with your debts as soon as possible. See Bailiffs for how to deal with them.
If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, there are no bailiffs but you may still be harassed by your creditors. See the Citizens Advice website for advice on what to do. In Scotland you may also be visited by a Sheriff officer. Check the Citizens Advice website for information on what they are allowed to do and how to make a complaint about their actions.
And if you've borrowed money from an unlicenced lender (known as a loan shark) they might start harassing you for payment. They have no legal right to take your money, even if they have lent you money and claim that you owe them. See Dealing with loan sharks for what you can do.
Make sure you respond to any court claim within 14 days - don’t ignore it. If you do nothing, or are late replying, you could get a County Court Judgment (CCJ). See Court action for more information.
There are a number of options to help you get out of debt. You may have heard of Administration Orders, Bankruptcy, Debt Management Plans, Debt Relief Orders or Individual Voluntary Arrangements. Get help from a specialist debt organisation to decide which, if any, is right for you.
It's quite easy to get into debt from a little harmless flutter - chasing losses, borrowing and hoping that the next big win will provide the solution, can be part of a repetitive cycle that in many cases leads to severe debt. Get help now - see Gambling debts.
DONT IGNORE IT!
Get help to sort out your debts and get yourself MoneyFit again with any one of the many free organisations listed in Where to get help if you are in debt.