Data Protection Act in the UK Explained

Data Protection Act in the UK Explained

Definition

The DPA (Data Protection Act) in the UK is a law that controls how the personal information of any UK citizen should be used by businesses, organisations or the government. Every person or entity responsible for using personal information or data of any UK citizen must follow data protection principles which are simply, strict rules on the proper use of data. The individual or entity must ensure the personal information is; used lawfully and fairly, used for the intended purpose and used adequately in a relevant manner that is not excessive. The individual or entity must also make sure the data is handled according to data protection rights, and the data is kept in a safe and secure manner. Stronger legal protection applies to more sensitive data such as a person’s overall health, sexual health, criminal records, political opinions, religious beliefs and ethnic background.

Data subject rights: Finding out the type of data an organisation/company has about you
Under the DPA, UK citizens have the right to see the type of information a company or the government stores about you. The DPA allows you to ask about personal information in writing through an enquiry referred to as a subject access request. When writing to an organisation to get a copy of the information they have about you, you should address the letter to the organisation’s company secretary. The organisation has a legal mandate to share with you such information as long as you make a formal request.

What it means for customers submitting their information to companies

Customers don’t have to guess or remember the exact kind of information they submit to companies. If you aren’t sure about the information a certain organisation has about you, just write a formal request.

It is, however, worth noting that information can still be withheld even after making a formal request. For instance, if the information is about the armed forces or national security, organisations reserve the right to withhold the information. Organisations can also withhold information if it is about detection, investigation or prevention of a crime. Information about assessment/collection of tax as well as judicial/ministerial appointments is also supposed to be withheld and organisations aren’t obligated by law to disclose why they are withholding information.

In a nutshell, if you are a regular UK citizen who just wants to know the kind of information an organisation has about you, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get access to such information.

Cost

Although you can get this information for free, some organisations charge to provide such information. Most organisations charge £10 or less although the cost can increase depending on the amount and type of information. For instance, it will cost you more to get numerous paper records held by a public authority in an unstructured way. Health and education records also cost more.

Launching a complaint

If you suspect your data has been stored insecurely or misused by any organisation/company in the UK, you should contact them immediately and share your concerns in writing. If you are not happy with the response you get, you can contact the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office). The ICO is also open if you need any advice on data related issues or concerns. The ICO has a telephone helpline: 0303 123 1113. The ICO also has an online chat feature that allows you to talk to an adviser.
The ICO has the mandate to investigate claims as well as take the necessary action against individuals or entities that misuse personal data.

What it means for the company taking the information

The ICO takes its data protection mandate very seriously. Just recently, the ICO fined UK telecommunication provider TalkTalk £400,000 after finding the company guilty of maintaining poor data protection measures. TalkTalk failed to prevent a data breach which compromised personal data belonging to approximately 157,000 of its customers back in 2015. Payday loan lender Wonga is set to face the same fate after facing the worst customer data breach in history. In April 2017, the lender suffered a data breach that saw the theft of sensitive data belonging to 270,000 customers. If Wonga is found guilty, the payday loan giant could pay a hefty fine amounting to millions of pounds.

Companies which receive sensitive personal information from their clients have no choice but to invest heavily in data protection security measures or face disgruntled customers and the ICO.

Bill Set Out To Tackle 'Extortionate' UK Overdraft Fees

Bill Set Out To Tackle ‘Extortionate’ UK Overdraft Fees

MP Rachel Reeves has proposed legislation to make UK banks subject to the same rules applicable to payday loan lenders.

Bank customers who have been subject to ‘extortionate’ overdraft fees have hope going forward after a parliamentary bill tabled recently promises to protect customers from escalating overdraft fees. On 25th April 2017, Labour MP Rachel Reeves who also happens to be a Treasury select committee member tabled the bill outlining plans for FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) regulators to cap the total amount of money UK banks are allowed to charge their customers for making unauthorised overdrafts. The bill proposes limits similar to those imposed on payday loan charges.

According to Rachel Reeves, UK banks have forced many people to take up more debt with the charges applied on unauthorised overdrafts. Reeves argues that UK banks have a responsibility to help their customers get out of debt rather than being part of the problem.

The FCA has already included overdraft fees into a review on high interest loans alongside doorstep lending and payday loans. The FCA announced it would be including overdraft fees in its review in response to a two-year investigation into high street banks conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in 2016. The CMA was focused on capping overdraft fees but stepped back and instead required banks to be publishing their monthly maximum charges going forward. The FCA has taken over the issue.

It is estimated that UK banks make approximately £1.2 billion every year from unauthorised overdraft fees. Rachel Reeves is pushing for restrictions to bring down this amount. The current cost of borrowing a hundred pounds (£100) via unauthorised overdraft for a month can amount to ninety pounds (£90). This is 400% more than the maximum limit set on payday loan charges.

Rachel Reeves has been campaigning for a cap on extortionate overdraft fees in the UK for a long time. In her statement, she expressed concerns about UK households saving less due to these unjust fees. Her concerns are evident according to statistics given the fact that the savings ratio is at 3.3% currently (a record low from 2010) while unsecured debt has increased by a record 10% in the past year alone. Statistics also indicate that the debt-to-income ratio has increased by 6% in the past year to stand at 145%. This poses serious economic risks to Britain’s economy according to Reeves.

With an election looming, Reeves’s bill may not become law in the current parliament. She, however, promises to reintroduce the bill as a private member or via a bill amendment in parliament if she gets re-elected. Reeves has also called on parties to incorporate the bill in their manifestos. She wants to see banks subject to the same limits as payday lenders to bring an end to extortionate UK overdraft fees charged by high street banks.

Is Your Payday Loan Provider Legal?

Is Your Payday Loan Provider Legal?

Getting a loan from traditional lenders like banks is not easy. This is one of the main reasons people prefer payday loans. Banks require collateral. You also need a good credit score. If you don’t have collateral and a good credit score, you need a guarantor to co-sign the loan agreement. Considering guarantors are hard to come by, it’s understandable why many people turn to payday loans today.

You don’t need security or a good credit score to secure a payday loan. It also takes less time and effort to get a payday loan. You can apply for the loan online and receive the loan amount in a few minutes. The benefits of payday loans are obvious. However, not all payday lenders are good. So, how do you determine if you are working with an authorised lender?

Scarce lender information

Most illegal internet payday loan providers in the UK have one thing in common i.e. they offer scarce information about themselves online. If you can’t get concrete information about a lender on their site, be cautious. All online UK payday loan providers must adhere to the same rules followed by their storefront counterparts. It’s not advisable to deal with any company online, let alone a payday lender, that doesn’t offer adequate information online.

Online payday loan lenders are required by law to provide their Company number as well as their FCA authorisation number. Most unauthorised lenders don’t provide such information. In fact, recent statistics from European Union investigations indicate that only one out five online payday loan companies in the UK provide basic lender information as required by the law. Unauthorised lenders who are only interested in making quick money and exiting the market have no business following legal channels. The lenders make it impossible to check their authorisations or credentials.

No infrastructure investment

It’s also worth noting that illegal lenders have no interest investing in infrastructure. For this reason, most illegal payday loan lenders don’t have a working call-center, physical address/permanent office, and staff. In a nutshell, you can’t visit or get into contact with the company in person if you want. The lender may have contact details that don’t work. All online companies can be traced to a physical address or location because they are started by individuals. Illegal lenders are untraceable because they have very little to no infrastructure investment on purpose.

Missing APRs

You should also be wary of payday loan sites that don’t highlight the representative APRs. The representative APR is arguably the most important lender information in any payday loan website since it highlights how much a borrower is expected to pay in interest. Any lender who doesn’t disclose this information isn’t transparent and will most likely end up overcharging you.

Expired information

Payday lenders also need to have up-to-date information for them to be considered legal. It doesn’t matter if a lender has interim permission or is fully authorised. The lender you are dealing with must have updated information. You can conduct a quick search on the FCA’s website http://fca-consumer-credit-interim.force.com/CS_RegisterSearchPageNew to ascertain this.

Inaccurate information

The information presented on the FCA’s website must also match with the information presented on the lender’s website. Most fraudulent payday loan providers pose as legitimate lenders. It’s, therefore, important to ascertain if the payday loan provider you are dealing with is a registered lender or broker.

Summary

To secure a payday loan, you have to submit sensitive personal information (such as your name and bank account) to your lender. For this reason among many others, you can’t afford to deal with a fraudulent provider. Luckily, there are many signs to look out for when you want to identify fraudulent providers. One, most fraudulent payday loan providers offer scarce information on their website. If you can’t get adequate information about the payday loan provider, their terms and conditions, interest charges etc., think twice. You should also beware of payday loan providers who don’t have any infrastructure investment. The validity and accuracy of information is also important. Expired and/or inaccurate information is a sure sign of trouble. All in all, you must do your research and understand the risks of dealing with online payday lenders.

Top Financial Scams in The UK and What You Should do to Protect Yourself

Top Financial Scams in The UK and What You Should do to Protect Yourself

Financial scams have been estimated to cost innocent UK civilians approximately £10 billion a year.

Top financial scams

Although there are very many types of financial scams in the UK today, “goods not received” scams are the most popular today. As the name suggests, such scams are characterised by customers paying for goods or services which they never receive. What’s more interesting is; only a fraction of the people who are scammed this way (approximately 30%) report the incidences. This is according to Natwest statistics. The same statistics also show that most ”goods not received scams” happen online in auctions as well as marketplaces.

Invoice scams are the most expensive scams against businesses in the UK. On average, every UK business which falls prey to invoice scams loses £30,000. The scams occur when businesses receive invoices that appear to originate from trusted partners but are actually fake. The scammers usually communicate new payment arrangements i.e. the business in question should settle the invoice by sending money to a new account which in reality is operated by fraudsters and not the partner. Invoice scams are the 4th most popular types of financial scams in the UK. The second most popular financial scam in the UK is the; Advance fee scam followed by spoof payment request scam. Holiday scams fall fifth place.

How to protect yourself from financial scams

Protecting yourself against “goods not received” scams
To avoid the most common type of financial scam online, you need to be very cautious about where you shop online. First and foremost, you need to shop in reputable online stores only. It’s also advisable to check item descriptions carefully. You should also read the dispute resolution policy of the online store or online marketplace in question carefully before paying. Payment should also be made via recognised official payment services like PayPal which have effective dispute resolution channels and never through direct bank transfers off-site.

Protecting your business against invoice scams

As a business owner, you should never settle an invoice without getting into contact with your trusted business partner first. This should be procedural especially when there are any changes made to your payment arrangements. Since fraudsters have to send you correspondence in invoice scams informing you of a new bank account among other payment changes, you should consider official communication channels only and get in touch with trusted partners to discuss any new changes.

Protecting yourself against advance fee scams

Advance fee scams are scams where you are expected to pay a fee before you take advantage of offers/opportunities. You should never pay to access any offers/benefits or loans such as payday loans. Advance fee scammers are usually after the advance fee which appears small compared to the goods, services, benefits or opportunities you are expected to enjoy. Career opportunity and loan scams are among the most common types of advance fee scams. In career opportunity scams, job seekers are required to pay some money to access great employment/job opportunities. Never pay to access job opportunities or other financial opportunities without assessing the validity of those fees.

Signs of financial scams in texts, calls, emails and websites and how you should protect yourself

Scammers have to get in touch with you to scam you. Here’s how to identify a scammer by their texts, emails or website.

Texts: Scammers love sending suspicious texts. For instance, you may receive a text informing you that your bank account has been blocked and the action you should take going forward i.e. call a certain number. Never text back or call the number on the text. Instead, contact your bank using the official phone number.

Calls: Financial scammers also love cold calling. To avoid cold calling scams, never answer calls from suspicious numbers. If you do, hang-up immediately. Never answer any questions from strangers to avoid giving out sensitive personal information.
Emails: Scammers also love emailing their victims. They pose as reputable website support staff and send emails requiring some action i.e. clicking on a link. If you don’t pay close attention to the emails you receive and open, you are at risk of falling for email scams. Pay attention to spelling mistakes in emails. Also, never click suspicious links, pop-ups or attachments to avoid downloading malware among other harmful software into your computer.

Use social media responsibly: You should also be careful about the information you post online on your social media profiles to avoid being scammed. You should avoid posting any personal information online for the public to see i.e. phone numbers, address, etc. If you have to post such information, make sure you secure your account accordingly. Ideally, you should never post anything that introduces privacy risks.
Install a good antivirus: Most financial scams today happen or are facilitated online over unprotected computers. Having a good antivirus can help you detect and get rid of malicious software used to steal personal data and launch scams.

Report scams: You also need to report scams to protect yourself from scams in the future. Most scammers don’t stop launching scams until they are caught, so it is important to report scams even if you haven’t suffered any loss. If you think you have been scammed or you are about to be scammed in the UK, get in touch with Action Fraud immediately by following this link: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

How to Launch a Payday Loan Complaint

How to Launch a Payday Loan Complaint

For a payday loan complaint to be launched, there must be some form of wrongdoing. With that said, you need to know your rights as a payday loan borrower. Complaints should be launched when you have a problem with a lender or when you have been mistreated.

Although payday loans are great for emergency cash needs, it’s easy for borrowers to be trapped in downwards spirals of debt. Payday loans are high-cost short-term loans which can easily get out of control when they are not paid within a month. In fact, most of the complaints the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) receives about payday loans revolve around cost.

There are also complaints about unfair lending terms. Some lenders have also been accused of coercing their clients to repay the loans. The latest statistics indicate that the Financial Ombudsman Service received 7,375 payday loan related complaints between April and September 2016. The FOS has been receiving about 7,000 payday related complaints per year indicating a sharp increase.

This is despite the regulatory controls put in place by the FCA. The FCA has also been cracking down irresponsible lenders in the UK. Nevertheless, payday borrowers continue to suffer. There are still many irresponsible payday loan lenders operating in the UK. So, how do you proceed if you fall victim to an irresponsible lender?
Many payday loan borrowers are aware of their rights now more than ever because of the recent focus on rogue lenders. Here’s a quick guide to launching a payday loan complaint.

When should you launch a complaint?

You should launch a payday loan complaint when; you start having problems affording your loans. For instance, if you struggle to afford a payday loan which appeared affordable initially, you have a right to launch an official complaint. Payday loan lenders are bound by law to give payday loans only to those people who can afford them. It’s also within your right to complain if your lender takes out payments unexpectedly from your account. Borrowers can also complain if they are harassed to make repayments. There are many other cases where you are entitled to complain. For instance, if you feel the lender didn’t adhere to the FCA interest and fees cap, you can also launch a formal complaint.

The process

Write a complaint letter to your payday loan lender.
To launch a payday loan complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, you have to inform your lender first in writing. You can also use online complaint tools like resolver.co.uk. On receiving your formal complaint, your lender has eight weeks to respond to your complaint. If they don’t respond or take appropriate or satisfactory action to resolve the issue, you are free to escalate the issue to the FOS.

The FOS has legal mandate to assess and provide independent decisions on payday loan complaints in the UK. You can reach the FOS by phone (0300 1239 123 or via its specialised page for payday loan complaints: http://financial-ombudsman.org.uk/keeps-you-awake/index.html)

The FOS offers payday loan complainants FREE services.

Compensation

The FOS is at liberty to decide if you are eligible for compensation based on the nature of your payday loan complaint. Compensation can come in many forms i.e. more time to clear your loan if you have been treated unfairly. The FOS can also recommend monetary compensation if you have been overcharged.

Recommendation

To avoid being a victim of rogue payday loan lenders, it’s important to borrow from reputable payday loan providers only like SwiftMoney. Reputable providers don’t overcharge their clients or subject them to unfair terms.

It’s also important to familiarise yourself with the rules. The FCA website has all the information you need to know about payday loan price caps. The website also has information on how payday loan lenders are supposed to conduct themselves.
The FOS website also has all the information you need about launching complaints. http://financial-ombudsman.org.uk/keeps-you-awake/index.html

It’s also advisable to seek financial help if you have financial trouble. Over reliance on payday loans every month is a sure sign that you need financial help. There are many free debt services in the UK you can talk to like stepchange.org, citizensadvice.org.uk and nationaldebtline.org.

FCA UPDATE on Fintech

FCA UPDATE on Fintech

The FCA regulates over 56,000 firms which employ over 2 million people in the UK. The financial services industry is obviously an important industry in UK’s economy given this statistic. This highlights the need for Fintech initiatives going forward (technology initiatives supporting or enabling the financial industry). One such initiative is Project Innovate. The initiative was developed back in 2014 to promote competition and growth in UK’s financial services industry. The initiative has been supporting small and large businesses which make new products and services that benefit customers genuinely. In the first year of operation, Project Innovate helped over 175 businesses. Currently, the project has helped over 358 businesses.

The latest FCA update on Fintech as of April 2017 focuses on a few main points. First and foremost, the FCA continues to tackle regulatory barriers to allow firms to continue innovating for the benefit of their clients. The FCA is doing so given the fact that the demand for its support is increasing. Project Innovate is also entering a new phase. As a forward-looking regulator, the FCA sees the need to continue evolving its approach. The FCA has seen an emergence of Fintech hubs in the UK and has reaffirmed its commitment to support these hubs by offering more/better local assistance.

The FCA’s approach to innovation

In an effort to highlight the importance of innovation in the financial services industry, the FCA continues to educate the public on why innovation is important. According to Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s Executive Director of Strategy and Competition, the FCA has an obligation to make UK’s financial services work well. To do this, the FCA continues to assess the integrity of financial markets and consumer protection issues. The FCA also has the duty to continue promoting the interest of consumers.

According to Woolard, the FCA is increasingly focused on using innovation to promote competition going forward. The FCA has completed its second round of testing innovative products/services, business models and well as delivery mechanisms in practice through its Regulatory Sandbox program. The FCA is also continuing to support technologies that will facilitate the delivery of regulatory requirements better than existing capabilities. The regulator has already held successful initiatives aimed at bringing market participants together to solve crucial problems in the financial services industry.

Priority areas going forward

The FCA is increasingly focused on expanding the scope of its Advice Unit which has been making automated advice models in the investment, pension and protection space. The FCA’s Advice Unit has a broader scope now. The unit is currently engaging the general insurance, mortgage, and debt sectors as well as many other firms that are keen on providing guidance, instead of advice. According to Woolard, the FCA will do more to spearhead the conversation about emerging innovations and trends. The regulator has already started a conversation about the risks and advantages of Distributed Ledger Technology.

The FCA also intends to take an international approach to innovation i.e. restarting its commitment to supporting innovation globally by signing cooperation agreements. The FCA has already signed such agreements with China, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada and is also working with other global regulators to foster a common understanding on good innovation. The regulator is working towards this via international bodies such as the IOSCO and the G20.

In early April 2017, the FCA hosted the first ever International Innovate Seminar featuring over 90 regulators from 56 countries globally.
According to Woolard, this will foster stronger international cooperation as well as help to secure the future of the industry in the long-term. Woolard, however, insists that the FCA is still focused more on supporting emerging Fintech hubs in the UK.

In his latest remarks, London has experienced the most Fintech emergence regionally. This emergence is however expected to spread beyond London. The FCA sees numerous exciting Fintech developments across the UK from Liverpool to Bristol which is why the regulator has promised to work with numerous organisations across the UK. The FCA is focusing on areas with a technological presence as well as strong financial centers. The FCA is also looking at areas where it has established strong relationships with local learning institutions like universities.

The regulator has mapped out the Leeds-Manchester and Edinburgh-Glasgow areas as promising emerging Fintech hubs and is focused on offering such areas the same access to regulatory support as key areas like London. The FCA is committed to ensuring good Fintech ideas in the financial services industry come to fruition regardless of where they are conceived.

How to Stop the Constant Cold Calling Here In the UK

How to Stop the Constant Cold Calling Here In the UK

Cold calls, which are simply unwanted phone calls, top the list of UK’s most hated marketing tactics. Although marketers cold call people all over the world, the problem is worse in the UK. If you hate cold calls, look no further. Below are top 6 tips for you to consider.

1. Register with the TPS (Telephone Preference Service)

TPS-registered phone numbers are protected from cold calling. UK-based companies are barred from making unsolicited sales/marketing calls to TPS-registered phone numbers. You can register with TPS for free by visiting the website (www.tpsonline.org.uk/) or calling 0345 070 0707. It’s, however, worth noting that the TPS stops unsolicited sales/marketing calls only. You can still get market research calls as well as calls where you have opted in. Also, the TPS doesn’t stop calls from companies which are based abroad.

2. Keep your contact details off directories

Most companies especially local businesses use phone books to get phone numbers. To avoid cold calling, you need to request for your contact details to be removed from directories. Keeping your contacts off directories ensures marketing companies don’t find your number when looking for target customers. You should also be careful when giving out your contacts. If you have to give out your phone number, request whoever you are giving your number to; avoid calling you for sales/marketing offers or giving out your number to third parties.

3. Screen all your calls and use call blocking software

You should also avoid picking calls from unrecognised numbers. You can use software such as Truecaller to help you identify calls from numbers you haven’t saved in your phonebook. Screening calls is an effective way of avoiding cold calling since you get to know the identity of every person/organisation that calls your phone immediately. You can also block ”suspect” numbers.

4. Never bow down to cold-calling pressure

Some resilience can also go down a long way. Some marketing companies use underhand tactics to pressure their victims into accepting calls and offers. Never pick a cold call if you don’t want to. If you pick a cold call unknowingly, don’t disclose your personal information. Simply cut short the conversation and hang up. If you receive a cold call from a company you are interested in, insist on contacting them yourself. Most marketing companies will stop calling you if you don’t express any interest whatsoever or if they notice you won’t bow down to pressure.

5. Record cold-call numbers and report them

You should also record all unsolicited calls and report such numbers to organisations like Ofcom to take the necessary action. Get as much information about the company or person cold calling you and report them. Ofcom is UK’s communication industry regulator with a mandate for investigating and prosecuting individuals and companies which breach communication laws. You can also report cold calling offenders to TPS which will then forward the complaints to Ofcom or the ICO to take the necessary action against repeat offenders.

6. Use opt-out options

Sometimes you may be a victim of cold calling because you submitted your contact details somewhere without much thought. In such an instance, you should look for ways of stopping such calls. Legitimate companies have opt-out options that prevent calls or any other type of correspondence at the touch of a button. If you can’t find such options on a company’s website, call the company directly and ask the sales/marketing team to stop calling you. Legitimate companies abide by verbal requests so you shouldn’t have a problem stopping cold calls this way. You can consider writing a formal request just in case the cold calling doesn’t stop, and you have to take legal action.

Summary

Constant cold calling is a huge problem in the UK. Luckily for you, it is possible to stop this menace by taking any one or more of the above measures. Start by being cautious when giving out your contact information. You should also use the technology and institutions at your disposal. Being resilient and getting your contact information off directories will also go a long way.

How to Deal With Debt of a Lost Loved One

How to Deal With Debt of a Lost Loved One

Losing a loved one is painful. The experience becomes more painful when you are left with new debt. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to cope with the situation. In case you don’t know what you need to do to deal with the debt of a lost loved one, follow the simple guide below.

Step 1: Take stock of the debt

Your first debt should be determining the amount as well as the type of debt they have. This step is crucial because it makes the situation clearer. You can’t be able to predict the type and amount of debt a lost love one has with accuracy without conducting a thorough investigation.

You should start by going through their financial statements/papers and then make a conclusive list of their debts. While doing this, remember to determine the type of debt i.e. individual or joint, secured or unsecured. It’s also important to check if the debts have a guarantor. All debts with a guarantor should be settled by the guarantor. It’s important to establish the type of debt because there are different ways of dealing as well as paying off different types of debt.

While individual debt (debt registered under one person) can be paid off by a loved one, i.e. a spouse or sibling, joint debt (debt registered under two or more people) should be paid off by the other registered individual/s when one individual dies.

If someone dies after taking secured debt (debt taken against an asset), such debt is already covered by the asset which simply means no one is liable for the debt. Mortgages and car loans are great examples of secured debt. Unsecured debt such as student loans and home improvement loans should be paid for even after someone dies.

You also need to check if they had any undisclosed debts (debts you didn’t know about). The best ways of discovering if your loved one had undisclosed debts is to advertise locally. By doing this, you give creditors time to forward their claims. You also avoid legal problems and inconveniences in the future.

Step 2: Paying off outstanding debts of a lost loved one

Once you take stock, you will have an accurate picture of the type and amount of debt your lost loved one has. To deal with the debt accordingly start by;

a. Contacting creditors: You need to contact all creditors and inform them about the death of your loved one. It is better to initiate communication rather than wait for the creditors to start calling demanding payment. Ask the creditors for formal letters or statements showing outstanding debt. Contacting creditors will buy you time and get rid of unnecessary stress while you go through the legal process of handling a person’s estate.

b. Check if they had insurance: After contacting creditors, you should check if your loved one insured his debt/s. Life insurance can cover mortgage debt and many other types of debt in case of death. There are other insurance covers that can settle outstanding debt. So, check if your loved one had insurance and if the cover can take care of any or all of the debt. You can then proceed by contacting the insurance company, launching a claim and then using the money to pay off the debt.

c. No insurance? If there is no insurance, contact the creditors and discuss ways of settling the debt.

d. Joint debt? If the debt in question belongs to your lost loved one among other parties, check the terms and conditions of the debt. If the terms transfer all the debt to the other parties in case of death, you can initiate a debt transfer process i.e. requesting the other parties to remove the name of your loved one from future bills.

e. Paying the debt: If you have to settle the debt of a lost loved one, pay in order of priority. If the deceased granted you administration of his/her estate through a will, you need to pay off their debts first before distributing the estate to heirs (if there are any). You should pay the debt after exhausting insurance funds, if any. Secured debt like mortgages and car loans should be paid first followed by unsecured debt such as credit card bills, unpaid rent, utility bills, etc. You should also consider selling assets which may be available. If the debt surpasses the value of the estate, you will be required to get professional advice from a lawyer or probate specialist. You can find a good legal professional in the UK here: http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/

Step 3: What if I am struggling to pay off the debt of a lost loved one?

In case you are having difficulties paying off the debt of a lost loved one, you need to talk to a debt adviser to help you find a way forward. Debt advisers can help you find new ways of dealing with the debt. A debt adviser can also help you find benefits and entitlements you didn’t know about.

Summary

Losing a loved one results in a lot of misery if you are left with new debt to service. It is, however, possible to manage the debt of a lost love one if you are equipped with the right information. The most important steps are; taking stock of the debt, taking steps to pay the debt as well as seeking professional help if you encounter problems.