CAB’s warning over debt plans

MP Mark Menzies with Fylde Citizens Advice Bureau Manager Kim Cook
MP Mark Menzies with Fylde Citizens Advice Bureau Manager Kim Cook

FYLDE’s Citizens Advice Bureau has issued a warning against fee-charging debt management companies.

More than 70 MPs have already signed an early day motion in Parliament calling for a ban on cold calling and the charging of fees before an agreement has been reached with the client’s creditors – and the Fylde CAB is writing to MP Mark Menzies urging him to sign the motion.

“The concern is that many of these debt management plan companies exploit vulnerable consumers by marketing their services aggressively, then charging excessive fees and providing poor service and advice,” said Kim Cook, manager of the Fylde CAB, based in Kirkham.

“These companies claim that they can reduce debts more quickly than an individual can achieve on their own, but the fees they charge often result in a client paying out large sums for a small reduction in their debt.

“There is now a parliamentary campaign underway and we are writing to ask Mr Menzies to sign this because it is relevant to a number of our clients in this area.”

Mrs Cook stressed that Fylde CAB offers debt advice as one of its services. “Problems can be discussed and several options considered before the right one is chosen,” she said. “We are even able to offer a free debt management plan, in conjunction with the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, as one of a number of options.

“We would also advise residents to speak to a CAB before entering into any arrangement with one of these companies and not to be pressured into making any payments or signing an agreement until they have done so.”

Fylde CAB can be contacted on (01772) 682588, while details are also on their website www.fyldecab.org.uk.

Meanwhile, Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Credit Union has added its weight to a warning by the Office of Fair Trading for the public to be on their guard against ‘loan scammers’ after a 50 per cent increase in complaints.

Mike Barry, director of Blackpool Fylde & Wyre Credit Union said, “Times are hard and people can be conned into paying fees. Everyone needs to realise that there is a local, affordable alternative where they can take control of their own finances with savings and affordable loans where we all keep our money here in the local community.”