19 Sep 2019 | Posted In Money advice news

In a unique communications campaign, the Credit Services Association (CSA) is building confidence in the debt collection sector and encouraging people in financial difficulty to engage early with its debt collection company members.

The Money Advice Service (now part of the Money and Pensions Service, MaPS) estimates that 8.3 million people in the UK are over-indebted, however, in a survey of 2,000 British adults, when it comes to money woes there is lots of confusion, with one in 10 thinking ‘debt is rare’. Of those surveyed, fewer than 40 per cent picked an expert as the most trustworthy authority for information and advice, and the survey also revealed what is and isn’t acceptable to discuss – with debt being in the top ten of those that are most off limits.

Research carried out by the trade body in 2013 and then re-visited in 2019 looked at online perceptions of the debt collection industry and has shown that although perceptions have changed in a positive way, there remains a worrying trend of people in debt going to the internet and receiving wrong or unhelpful advice. This advice in most cases sees a customer falling into further financial detriment as a result.

#heretohelp aims to give people in debt the confidence to engage with CSA members and speak about their money problems earlier than they are currently doing. It also warns against the risks of using the internet and so called “online experts” when it comes to getting money advice. As part of the campaign, the trade body has produced a video, fronted by Brad Burton, one of the UK’s top motivational speakers who was once £25,000 in debt. Brad interviews real life customers of debt collection companies as well as industry experts to deliver a reassuring message that early contact will always result in a better outcome.  The video also educates and raises the viewer’s awareness of the work of the debt collection industry including the CSA itself.

The video premiered during the CSA’s UK Credit and Collections Conference on Thursday 12 September at Crowne Plaza, Newcastle upon Tyne, and forms part of an extensive communications campaign fronted by the CSA.

As part of the campaign, the CSA is seeking partners and supporters to share the message across different networks, sectors and most importantly, with over-indebted consumers. This is a vital piece of work and as an industry it is important that all related organisations working in the debt sector show willingness to work together on such an emotive subject. As part of the campaign, the trade body is approaching Government, the free debt advice sector, consumer campaign groups, think tanks, politicians and different factions of the financial services industry. Educating and reassuring consumers that industry is #heretohelp and that they can trust CSA member companies and other money advice organisations, needs a clearer joint voice.

Yvonne MacDermid, CEO of Money Advice Scotland, says: “This is a really outward looking initiative by the CSA, to help get the engagement of people in debt, and open up a dialogue with the debt collectors and purchasers. This will surely benefit all concerned.”

Philip King, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM) says: “The CSA is to be congratulated on this bold initiative that highlights the importance of talking to real people with the experience and expertise to improve customer outcomes, rather than trusting to spurious and often poorly-informed advice being offered on the internet via consumer forums.”