1. What your lender can offer you
If you’re struggling with debt, it’s always better to take action. The first thing to do is let your lender know what’s going on so they can help.
There are a number of ways lenders can support you with your missed payments, including:
- Giving you more time to make the payments, taking some of the pressure off
- Offering you a payment plan, where you spread your repayments out to make them more manageable
- Freezing late payment and over limit fees so you don’t owe more than necessary
- Agreeing to let you make the payment within a certain amount of time
- Offering you a ‘payment holiday’, allowing you to pause or reduce your monthly repayments
- Arranging a formal debt solution, like a Debt Management Plan, a Debt Relief Order or Bankruptcy.
To find out more about debt management solutions, please visit .
2. What to expect from the conversation
While different lenders have different processes, there are a few things you can expect when you phone your lender:
- You’ll be asked a few security questions to verify your identity
- You’ll have the chance to explain your situation and what you’re struggling with
- If you’re ill or going through a tough time (e.g. job loss), make sure you tell your lender, as they may be able to offer more specific help
- Your lender might agree to let you repay the full debt as soon as possible
- If you can’t afford to make a payment, your lender might want to discuss your household income and outgoings (such as rent and groceries) to decide the best way forward.
If you need some help preparing for a discussion about your income and expenditure, visit .
3. Your rights and treatment
Before you pick up the phone, get to know your rights so you know where you stand. While your lenders are allowed to contact you to reclaim unpaid debt, they have to act within the law when doing so. Your lenders must not:
- Phone you at unreasonable hours
- Take payments from you without your permission (this can still happen in exceptional cases - it’s best to speak to your lender as soon as you miss a payment to prevent this from happening)
- Use legal or technical language to confuse you
- Add unreasonable charges (higher than the actual costs of collecting your debt)
- Pressure you to repay your debt by borrowing more money
- Carry on contacting you when your debt is being disputed.
Most lenders will agree to give you breathing space for roughly 30 days to allow you time to make a plan. During this time, they shouldn’t phone you and should restrict the number of letters they send you.
For more information on what lenders can and cannot do, visit .
4. Change in circumstances
It’s important you tell your lenders about any situation affecting your ability to make payments, such as illness, job loss or relationship breakdown. Most lenders have dedicated support agents who’ll be able to offer different solutions. For example, they might change the way they communicate with you so that it suits you, or agree for someone to act on your behalf.
If you’re struggling with significant life changes, or you’re not ready to speak to your lender just yet, there are lots of organisations that can help free of charge.
To learn more about the support available to you in various life situations, visit or your local bureau. If you’re more comfortable accessing help online rather than on the phone or face-to-face, you can filter organisations by their method of support .
If you'd like free debt advice or help with your finances, here’s a list of organisations you might want to get in touch with.