Leading debt charity warns credit card users to seek advice when bills land in January

Advice NI’s Debt service, Debt Action NI has said it is deeply worried about the level of credit card debt being accrued across Northern Ireland, and advised people to seek help to get their debt under control.

The service has helped over 4,000 people who are struggling with credit card debt, which is an average debt of nearly £7,800 per client, and dealt with £32.2 million of credit card debt in Northern Ireland since August 2012.

Advice NI, which has 69 offices across Northern Ireland, employing 185 advisers said that it had received 270,000 requests for help in 2014, up 70,000 since 2008.

Gemma Willis, Debt Action NI project manager said:

“As December’s credit card bills hit the letterboxes at the end of January, the reality hits that many people will have overspent on their credit card over the festive period and will struggle to meet their minimum payments.  Typically credit cards have relatively high interest rates, often in excess of 17% APR, so if they are not paid in full each month interest and charges can quickly spiral out of control.”

She added,

 “We see clients throughout the year who are using credit cards to pay for essentials such as fuel, food and childcare.  Worryingly, we also see people who are still dealing with debts from last Christmas.  Credit card debt is consistently in the top 3 debts which we deal with and we would urge people to seek help if they are unable to meet their payments.”

Gemma Willis concluded,

“If you are struggling with debt you don’t have to face it alone. You can contact Debt Action NI by calling the Freephone helpline on 0800 917 4607 to speak directly to an adviser between 8am and 9pm Monday – Friday, and 9am -3pm on a Saturday or you can text the word “Action” to 81025 and an adviser will call you back. You can browse the dedicated website, www.debtaction-ni.net, where you can chat to a virtual adviser or use an online budgeting tool. You can also find a list of the contact details and location of advisers in your local area on the website.“

Notes to Editors:

1.         For further information contact  Bob Stronge, Chief Executive Advice NI, 1 Rushfield Avenue, Belfast BT7 3FP  Tel: (028) 9064 5919 Mob: 07789756954

2.         Advice NI is the umbrella body for the independent advice network in Northern Ireland and has approximately 65 members across NI who provide advice on debt, benefits, housing to name a few. Advice NI members deal with almost 250,000 enquiries per year, with the majority being social security benefits and debt related.

3.         Advice NI has been delivering the DETI funded Debt Action NI project & since August 2012 we have helped over 13,400 clients deal with £192.7 million of debt.

4.         If you would like to find out more visit our websites www.adviceni.net. or www.debtaction ni.net