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How creditors must treat vulnerable customers

Often problem debt goes hand-in hand with other issues. If these other issues make it difficult to deal with your debts you might need some extra support from us and from your creditors. 

It's important to let your creditors know if you're in a vulnerable situation, so they're aware about any difficulties your experiencing that may make it harder for you to deal with your debts.

What does ‘vulnerable’ mean?

Creditors and advice agencies like us often use the term ‘vulnerable’ when describing someone who finds it more difficult to deal with their debts because of their health or something that’s happened in their life.

If you’ve experienced the following, or anything similar, you might be considered vulnerable if this makes it harder to cope with the pressure of debts:

  • A recent bereavement
  • Mental health problems
  • Long-term or terminal illness
  • Dementia or brain injury
  • Difficulty in communicating, for example reading or speaking on the phone
  • A learning disability
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Addiction

There are lots of other reasons why someone could find dealing with debts difficult. Conversely, we also know that many people who experience these situations can manage to deal with their debts.

Often vulnerability is temporary – if you’re finding it hard to manage now, you may find it easier to manage in future.

And vulnerability often doesn’t affect all areas of your life. For example you may find no problems dealing with other day-to-day activities, but dealing with debts or money may be a struggle.

When we refer to ‘vulnerability’ we’re not looking to label you or put you in a box. We just want to make sure that we’re giving you the right support to deal with your debts, and you’re not put at a disadvantage because of any health or other issues you have.

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What help can creditors give to vulnerable people?

Most creditors are a lot more understanding than you might expect if you explain any health or other issues you have.

Increasingly, many creditors and debt collection agencies have dedicated teams to speak to their vulnerable customers. They may be able to agree different ways to deal your case that are more appropriate to your needs. For example, they may be able to change the way they communicate with you or give you a break from payments.

If there’s anything about your situation that makes it harder for you to deal with your debts you should tell your creditors about it.

This may seem difficult but your creditors can’t change the way they’re dealing with you unless they know. They might ask for more information – it’s up to you how much you want to tell them.

It might help to ask a friend, family member or support worker to help. You should be able to give their name to your creditors so they can call if you’re not able to. This might involve setting up a password or sending a letter to your creditors.

How we can help

You can use our online Debt Remedy tool, or call our Helpline We can help you put together a budget and work out the best way to deal with your debts.

If there’s anything you think we need to know about your mental or physical health, your circumstances, or how you’re coping with your debts, please tell us. The more open and honest you are with us, the better we’ll be able to understand your situation. And remember we’re completely confidential and we won’t judge you.

If you’d find it easier to have someone you know help you, you can ask us to speak to a friend or family member, or a professional such as a social worker or carer. You can set up a password for them so they can call us.