Trying to pay off debt that has piled up can make borrowers feel very scared and vulnerable. Often those who find themselves struggling to pay off a mountain of debt end up fearful over what the future may hold, don’t know whom to turn to or what to do.
That kind of insecurity is usually a result of inability to decide what to do and what the consequence of a particular course of action may be.
Many people confuse fact with fiction when trying to decide how to solve their problems so in this post, we try separate truth from fiction.
1) You could Go To Prison If You Don’t Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt
Total Fiction: You will not be sent to jail if you end up defaulting on an unsecured loan or credit card debt.
The worst legal thing that can happen is you could be issued with a court order that stipulates how much of your income must go towards paying off an individual debt.
If legal action is taking against you by a creditor such as a bank or credit card company, and a judgement passed, that will remain on your credit record for a number of years, which will negatively affect your ability to obtain future financing.
Once the court has ordered you to make a payment, and you still find you cannot make the payment, you will still not go to prison, but the court may require your employer to make the payment on your behalf by deducting it directly from your salary.
Alternatively the court may issue another order which allows the credit card company or bank to take some the of the sale proceeds when you sell your house. These type of court orders are not that uncommon, however the order does not require you to actually sell your home, only that when you do ultimately sell your property, the creditor has the right to receive some of the proceeds.
2) Credit card companies Can Send Bailiffs To Collect
Another old wives tale is that credit card companies can send their bailiffs round if you are a habitual defaulter and miss payments continuously.
This is nonsense, card companies do not have the right to send a bailiff to your home, if someone from a card company threatens you with that kind of action, you should simply not believe them.
Card companies can apply to the court to send a bailiff round, and can only make that application once a judgment has been passed against you. Before the court has passed judgment, the only thing a card company or creditor can do is hire a debt collector who can try and collect the money owed, but the debt collector has no legal authority, so you are not even required to speak to him.
3) Bailiffs Do Not Have The Right To Force Their Way Into Your Home
This is not true, ordinarily bailiffs do not have the authority to force their way into your house to take your belongings. They can however apply for a warrant to force entry, though in practice this is very rare.
If you end up behind on rent or mortgage payments, your landlord or mortgage lender may obtain a court order to force eviction. In that situation, bailiffs have the power to break in to your home. Bailiffs also have the right to break into your house if they have previously been given permission to enter your home, and you have failed to stick to a debt repayment arrangement.
In general though, bailiffs have a code of conduct that they must adhere too. To begin with, they must provide their identification and authorization if they are asked for it. If they are collecting rent, they are required to only attempt to do so between sunrise and sunset and in practice, really between the hours of 8am and 8pm.
4) A Bad Credit Ratings Is For Life
This is untrue, bad credit ratings usually last a few years, in most developed countries, no more than six to eight years.
5) You Need To Pay For Debt Advice
This is complete fiction and is a debt rip off. Some lenders will try and charge you for advice, and there is absolutely no reason why you should be paying anyone any money for advice, because it can be gotten free from a number of debt counselling organisations who will provide guidance on a range of options to suit your personal needs and help you with your debt problems. So don’t pay for something you can get for free!
6) If You Die Your Family Will Have To Pay Your Debts
This is mainly false, but has a little truth to it. In general, your family are not liable for your debt in the event of your death. If however you have borrowed money jointly, with your spouse for example, then that person is liable for all your joint debts in the event of your death. The person however will also end up with full ownership of any asset that the debt was used to acquire, for example property.
If your estate has sufficient assets to cover all liabilities, that will be done by the executors of your estate. If there is a remainder after settling all outstanding debts, that will be distributed, and if your estate is not large enough to cover your debts, then what ever remains is usually written off.