The importance of obtaining regulated debt advice

September 18, 2018

Unfortunately not all companies who claim to be able to help you with your debt problems have your best interests at heart. In fact, there are a growing number of rogue debt advice firms who have made a business out of preying on people’s vulnerability during this stressful time. They are quite often not qualified or regulated to give out financial advice and typically prey on people by cold calling, sending out unsolicited mail, or attracting customers through a website.

Taking out an IVA is likely to be something you do only once in your life, therefore it goes without saying that you may not be entirely sure how the process works and the fees you will have to pay. Some companies will take advantage of this; ensure you are with a firm who not only explains the process, but also one who is transparent about their fees.

One size does not fit all

While IVAs can be an ideal solution for some, they are by no means right for everyone. An IVA is a formal insolvency procedure and will have long lasting effects particularly when it comes to obtaining credit in the future. There may be other ways of dealing with your debt problems which may better suit your situation and your level of borrowing.

If you feel you are being pushed in the direction of an IVA without any alternative solutions being explored, you should be extremely wary. Any good debt adviser will take the time to understand your individual situation and talk you through the various options which may be open to you before recommending the most appropriate course of action.

Be wary of false promises

A common tactic employed by unscrupulous IVA companies is to tell you that they can wipe out a huge percentage of your current debts. While IVAs do often result in you paying back less than you borrowed, the actual amount you have to pay back is based on your individual circumstances and the level of disposable income you have spare each month. This can only be determined following a careful and considered examination of your finances and negotiations with your creditors. Although you may be tempted by these false promises, in reality it is much better to speak to an adviser who will tell you the truth about your situation. This approach will help you understand your options and choose the most appropriate solution for you.

Do your research

Before signing on the dotted line, do your research into the IVA company. Do they have a physical office presence? Have you met, or been offered a face to face meeting with an adviser? Are they registered with the FCA? If you are having difficulty finding this information, have concerns that the company is not being fully honest about who they are, or if you have doubts over their credentials, don’t be afraid to walk away. Any reputable company will be happy to verify who they are and provide details of the regulatory bodies they are part of including their FCA approval.

Watch out for up-front fees

Fees are an unavoidable part of an IVA. Entering into an IVA will cost you money regardless of who you enter into the arrangement with. This is because an insolvency practitioner (or nominee) will be required to distribute your monthly payment between your creditors during the entire term of the IVA. However, the fees charged can vary wildly from provider to provider and so can the manner in which the monthly charges are collected. These fees should already be factored into your agreed monthly payment amount; you should not be charged an additional fee on top of this. If your IVA provider asks you to pay them a separate amount to cover these costs it is likely you are being charged more for this service than you have to.

Northern Ireland Debt Solutions

Northern Ireland Debt Solutions has already helped thousands of individuals find a way out of their debt problems. Our fully qualified team of debt and insolvency experts will take the time to understand your situation and explain the various debt solutions which may be appropriate for you. This may be an IVA, or an alternative such as a Debt Management Plan or bankruptcy depending on your level of debts and income.

Based in the heart of Belfast, Northern Ireland Debt Solutions operate across the whole of Northern Ireland. The team includes fully licensed insolvency practitioners who will be able to handle your IVA from start to finish. We are fully regulated by the FCA meaning you can trust us to give the specialist, expert, impartial advice you need. Call our team today on 0800 470 0461.

Lawrence O'Hara

Insolvency Adviser

Tel: 028 2132 6269

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