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Dealing with debt from prison

There can be big changes to your finances when you or someone you love goes to prison. You have a lot to think about at this difficult time, but dealing with debts if you can will make things easier in future.

Are you about to go to prison?

It is important to tell anyone you owe money to if you think you are about to go to prison.

You situation can get worse if you do not.

The people you owe can still take action to collect money from you while you are in prison.

Any arrears on priority bills can affect the people you live with when you are not in prison.

For example:

  • Your family could be evicted if you have rent arrears, or
  • Your provider could disconnect their energy if you have gas or electric arrears

Take these steps before the court hearing if you are at risk of prison:

1. Contact the people you owe

  • Let them know you may go to prison
  • Tell them how long you will be gone (if you know)

2. Ask your creditors if you can appoint someone to deal with your account while you are inside

  • This can be a trusted friend or family member
  • This is easier than trying to contact them from prison yourself
  • Some companies let you do this over the phone, others want it in writing

Contact the people you owe as soon as you can if you do not manage to reach them before prison.

You may need to ask someone else to do this.

It may be best to ask for a payment break until you are released. It can be harder to choose a debt solution, for example going bankrupt, while in prison.

Worried about debt?

mum at the table with bills

Worried about debts?

We can help. Use our free online debt advice tool.

Get help now

Is someone you know in debt and in prison?

A loved one may need your help with debts if they are in prison.

  • Ask them to give the people they owe permission to talk to you
  • They may need to sign a document allowing you to deal with their debts

Joint debts with someone in prison

The people you owe will expect you to make full payments on your own while the other person is in prison.

Shared homes

You will have to cover all household costs yourself, like:

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Council tax
  • Utility bills

Extra costs

You may also find that supporting someone in prison means extra costs like:

  • Travel costs for prison visits
  • Transferring money
  • Sending in essential items

Contact us for debt help if you are struggling with these costs.

You can visit the Offender’s Families Helpline for an advice on a wide range of issues.

  • Freephone- 0808 808 2003