Dealing with debt

With credit cards, store cards, overdrafts and bank loans readily available, it's easy to slip into debt. Most housing problems start because of financial difficulties, so if you do find yourself getting into debt, it's important to take action as soon as possible.

Are you in debt?

Tell-tale signs that your debts could be getting out of hand include:

  • missing more than one repayment on a store card or credit card
  • refusing to open bills or bank statements because you're afraid of what they'll say
  • borrowing money from friends and family that you know you'll never pay back
  • borrowing on one credit card or bank account to pay off another one
  • paying off the interest on your loans yet never reducing the loans themselves.

If you do get into debt there are three important things to remember.

  • Don't bury your head in the sand. Hiding bills and bank statements won't make them go away.
  • However much your debts pile up, your rent or mortgage payments should always be top priority. If you don't keep up with your rent or mortgage, you could end up homeless.
  • Help is at hand. The agencies listed below are experts in helping people deal with debt.

Rent and mortgage arrears

If you are having problems paying your rent or mortgage, there are steps you can take to sort out the problem and avoid eviction or repossession. The sections on rent arrears and mortgage arrears have more information.

Getting help with debt

If you're worried about your debts, you can call:

  • our Money and Debt Advisers provide debt prevention advice, particularly for those struggling to pay their energy bills and meet other household costs. Call 0344 515 2404 or 0344 515 2392, or email.
  • the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000.
  • the Consumer Credit Counselling Service Scottish Debtline on 0800 138 3328 (lines are open Monday-Friday 8am-8pm).

The National Debtline website has lots of useful information about dealing with debt, including self-help packs you can download to help you work out a budget, prioritise your debts and increase your income.

The Scottish Government website also has a useful guide to dealing with creditors and debt.

You can also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau, which you can find using the Advice Services Directory, or find your nearest money advice centre using the search at the Money Advice Scotland website.

Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

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