Can I pay off my debts or clear personal debt quickly?

On February 28, 2011, in News, by Lewis Alexander

Can you settle my debts immediately… please?

free credit report UK from ExperianWith increasing numbers of Brits turning to debt management companies for help, the question we encounter most is ‘Please, please, please can you wipe out my debts as soon as possible?’

99% of the time the answer is “No” and at Lewis Alexander we believe that our responsibility is to set our customers on the journey to a stable long-term financial existence.  Therefore, rather than starting with a solution we like to start by understanding the personal circumstances of each of our clients.

By completing a thorough financial healthcheck with any prospective new debt management client, we are then in a much better position to offer debt advice and debt solutions to best help our clients.  Typically, we find that the most common solutions are:

(1) Entering into a long-term or short term debt management plan

  • Where we negotiate with your creditors on your behalf
  • Potentially stop interest accruing on your debt – this is not guaranteed!
  • Agree reduced debt management repayment plans over an agreed period of time

(2) Re-structuring debt payments for our clients

  • Where we discuss with your creditors the current debt repayment amounts, term of loan/debt & the interest rate
  • Agree new terms that are more preferable to you if possible
  • Potentially change the debt solution that you are using

(3) Arranging partial settlements for outstanding debts

  • Where we negotiate with your creditors to encourage them to accept a reduced repayment, by way of one lump sum usually known as a short settlement or settlement in full and final.
  • Ensure that any agreement is acceptable to all parties


(4) Entering into an IVA

  • Whilst some of our competitors consider this to be the ‘first debt solution’ we prefer to use this as a debt solution of last resort.
  • An IVA is a formal agreement where you come to an arrangement with creditors you owe money to, to make reduced repayments towards the total amount of your debt in order to pay off a percentage of what you owe over a set period of time, usually 60 months.

The choice of debt solution depends solely on the individual circumstances of our clients, but each of these options take time to negotiate, agree and formalise. The only true option that leads to immediately sorting out debt as soon as possible, is the 100% (or very near) repayment of all of your debt. Which, if we are being honest may have made you less likely to have called Lewis Alexander to access our expertise in helping ordinary people, like you, who are in debt!

The one thing that we can promise to do instantly, in all cases, is to identify a solution that best suits you.  Should our service not be what you need we will try and refer you to a company or organisation that is better placed to help you.  For many people who are in debt they would ideally like everything sorted using the wave of a magic wand, however, this does not happen but the feeling that their situation is being managed professionally is enough to take away a large percentage of the pressure of being in debt.

We believe that by providing easy access to our advice means that we are better equipped to start working on your personal solution as soon as possible should you qualify for any debt solutions that we can offer.

So, if you find yourself in personal debt and need some help to turn your personal finances around then call us on 0800 018 6868 now.  Whilst we can’t promise instant debt clearance solutions, we do promise to work hard for clients and to look after your best interests.

  • Call us today and see if we can help you to start to relieve some of the stress of being in debt.
  • Our number again is 0800 018 6868.
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Unhappy with your Debt Management Company?

On February 18, 2011, in News, by Lewis Alexander
  • free credit report UK from ExperianIn today’s ‘instant world’ plagued by financial difficulty, many of us are seeking instant miracles to reduce our personal debt following spending years of living in excess.
  • Thus Brits in their thousands are turning to debt management companies to help them reduce their debt commitments and regain control of the family finances.

Those in the upper middle classes (and certainly those with a combination of wealth, financial acumen and discipline) are increasingly scoffing at such behaviour – indeed part blaming it for compounding the economic difficulties of the past 3 or 4 years.

  • But whose fault is it really?
  • The banks for making such poor lending decisions in the first place?
  • Or us, the general public, for accepting offers of such easy money?

Having developed a mini debt mountain of your very own, once it becomes unserviceable (and certainly once you are unable to perform balance transfer magic or rob Peter to pay Paul) then the next stop can be quite drastic.  Alternatives include going cap in hand to a family member, taking an equity loan on your house – should you be lucky enough to have any equity – or entering into a debt management plan or IVA.

When debt management companies first sprang up in the UK way back in the early nineties, there were a number of small to medium sized companies offering a debt management service to their clients.  During recent years, these have been narrowed down to a few and now this market exists as an oligopoly with a few large players claiming the majority of the marketplace and its clients.

Where this happens, the inevitable consequences are poor customer service, service failures and a lack of personalisation. Look at any market run by a few small players and you will see the same. You can move or leave debt management companies!

  • Energy companies are blighted by their inability to get household bills correct.
  • Banks think it ok to outsource customer services to non-English speaking countries.

Should you have taken out a debt management plan with one of the large companies, it’s understandable that you may not feel personally served. Hidden fees in your terms and conditions, charges for break clauses, or simply the inability to talk to anyone who actually manages your case on a day to day basis is frustrating, infuriating and very much the opposite to the glossy brochure you were sent originally!

Here at Lewis Alexander we take a different view. As an established name in debt management, we ensure all our clients are afforded a personal, professional service that cannot be matched by our competitors. One dedicated point of contact throughout your dealings.

  • Once we have taken your case, we appoint a senior case manager who will be your contact throughout the period of time you use our service.
  • Whilst we can’t promise they are available 24/7 (we do encourage our advisors to get a good night’s sleep!) we do promise that if your case manager is not available to take your call, then we will  take your details and get your case manager to call you back when they become available.
  • Our call centre is also based in the UK, so you will not need to learn another language just to speak to us! Lines are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

By retaining this personal touch we believe that fewer mistakes are made when evaluating your financial situation during our initial financial healthcheck.  We don’t simply set up arrangements for clients unless we truly believe there is a benefit to you. This time investment at the start of the process means that more of our clients are happy with what we do for them.   As we strongly believe that recommendation is our strongest avenue of new client attainment, this means that we generate most of our new clients via existing client referrals.

Finally, we are completely open with our charges and encourage our customers to review our terms & conditions and our competitor’s offerings to ensure that any solution we offer is competitive. We also display our debt management plan charges clearly and concisely up front. We know that being in debt is extremely stressful and so we don’t want our clients to be worrying about ‘the small print’ in our terms of business!

  • So call a personal finance advisor today! Our trained consultants are available by calling our freephone number – 0800 018 6868.

We look forward to speaking with you soon and working together to get you out of the personal debt problems you may face.

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  • credit report UK from ExperianIt was interesting to see the BBC dedicating a large percentage of the Rip off Britain show on BBC 1 this evening, to how debt management companies can harm a consumers’ financial position rather than benefit their financial future.

As with any commercial profit making industry, there will be rogue traders operating and taking advantage of any vulnerable consumers.  These rogue traders do not follow not only sometimes the spirit of an industry if unregulated but also the regulations or guidance if there are any in place.

  • What was particularly interesting this evening was the way the show seemed to tar the fee charging debt management sector.

There are a few points that we would like to cover regarding a fee charging companies attitude to the free fee sector, this is in addition to what was broadcast.

  • Lewis Alexander is a compliant industry member celebrating 8 years of compliant trading.

1)      The first thing we have to accept is that the Office of fair Trading put in place something called Debt Management Guidance in September 2001.  This Guidance sets out what is expected of and what must be adhered to by any consumer credit license holder should they wish to offer fee charging or free sector debt management plans or services.  Without being offensive or finding fault in any authoritative organisation, the guidance to our knowledge was not heavily policed unless complaints were made about a particular individual company.

Therefore, a great number of rogue traders felt “free” to operate without much concern of being found or traced as long as they pacified any consumer, who complained for whatever reason, thus stone walling any escalation of the complaint to an authority. We were only aware of such companies and subsequent practices when certain clients would tell us of their personal experience when explaining how they wished they had found us first based on our honest responses.  This guidance is still in place and was updated in 2008 prior to the recent investigations over the last 12 months or so by the OFT and local Trading Standards offices.

2)      The first lady featured on the BBC show had a genuine complaint and was obviously not made aware of the free sector or charitable debt management services available when she was being advised by the particular fee charging debt management company. However, her attitude was that of surprise that she had chosen a fee charging company when she could have got something for free.  The show then later changed topics and discussed being aware of something that is free, is that not a contradiction?

The free sector is funded. The Citizens Advice Bureau is absolutely free and government funded.  Other operations such as Payplan, CCCS and National Debtline are all funded and we believe operate on a not for profit basis, however they are funded to enable them to say the service is free.

You can check who funds these free debt services, in some cases it can be the creditor who the consumer actually owes money to hence the fee charging sector selling against these operations, on the basis of who is actually working for the client? an independent source or an extension of the people whom the consumer owes the monies to?

3)      The second gentleman seemed to be a victim of IVA direct selling, something we reported on way back in 2006/7 when certain large Insolvency operations were floating their businesses on the London AIM stock exchange. In certain cases an IVA may be the best debt solution to clear personal debts but insolvency became the quicker fix direct sell against the already badly publicised debt management plan. Say no more!

4)      The 3rd lady was genuinely miss sold to and mislead from what we could gather but again, the free sector is there and funded apart from CAB citizens advice bureau which is governmental. This particular lady had suffered a bereavement and was very vulnerable, another reason why the free sector should have been offered at the point of advice.

We often ask why people have this attitude that they can go out and spend what they like or commit to loans and expenditure for certain changes in circumstance and then find a free service to get them out of the mess.  It is a strange attitude and we hope that this changes as the pressure and load coming to these FREE services will always create an overflow of cases that require immediate attention and private paid help.  If this was not the case, BUPA and NHS would not exist alongside each other in such harmony, one compliments the other.

All personal debt cases should be considered individually, at Lewis Alexander we have offered free debt advice on our free from a landline debt helpline (free from landlines, mobile costs may vary) for 8 years now and only when a consumer decides to take our debt management help does our service become chargeable.

  • We are proud to charge for what we believe is an excellent unrivalled service within a most competitive arena. We also refer cases to the free sector when we believe the client would not benefit from our fee charging assistance.

DEMSA got a final interview and they are a trade body that set themselves up to offer a “stamp of approval” to certain member companies that comply with their expected standards.  We approve of Demsa but there are other debt management trade bodies such as the DRF or Debt Resolution Forum.  Our only concern is that the fees that these trade bodies require for us to join are not (when last checked) offered on a pro rata basis to the member companies turnover, if it was we would join as we believe we operate in line with what they require from a DEMSA member.  It is just the fees we cannot justify or afford.  It is less of a cost for the larger companies as they have a greater turnover than Lewis Alexander.  Our clients would only end up footing an extra cost for these associated fees.

Whilst remaining politically unbiased we would like to clarify that we are well behind the Coalition Government with Mr Camerons plans for the Big Society.  We welcome the effort shown by the new government and credit where credit is due, people may knock the Prime Ministers attempts but at least he is trying when we all accept that broken Britain is a real and current dilemma.  We feel that our initial free debt advice (ongoing services are chargeable) and our commitment to retaining our free phone number from landlines can be our donation to the big society and long may we continue in our quest to do our bit for broken Britain.

Whilst wishing ourselves at Lewis Alexander a happy 8th birthday we dedicate this blog post to our celebrated event.

  • Should you wish to discuss your personal financial problems with a trained advisor please call our personal debt helpline in confidence using 0800 018 6868.
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Government U-Turn on Citizens Advice Bureau Debt Advisor Funding

On February 13, 2011, in News, by Lewis Alexander
  • free credit report UK from ExperianThey say a week is a long time in politics!
  • Indeed around 500 debt advisors employed by the Citizens Advice Bureau would certainly vouch for that statement!

This time last week, the government announced that the £25million a year Financial Inclusion Fund was not due to be extended beyond March – one of the many cutbacks seen by the coalition to balance the nation’s finances.

However, this week has seen the Business Secretary Vince Cable announce that £27million has now been found to maintain this programme during 2011.  Not only does this service allow the average Briton access to valuable free debt advice, it also ensures that around 500 employees have been saved from the ever expanding dole queues of the Job Centre.

At a cost of around £54,000 per employee, this may be seen as quite a hefty price to pay, but it is the money that these employees will save the government that is most likely to have changed the minds of continuing the Financial Inclusion Fund from within Westminster.

This blog reported last week that the BBC had estimated there would be circa 200,000 new requests for debt advice during 2011, which represents around 400 extra cases for these debt advisors to manage.

With the government keen to keep a lid on spiralling welfare costs, if each debt advisor is able to help just seven of these 400 people stay away from the unemployment queues (as a result of their financial mismanagement) then they are likely to justify their existence.

Speaking on Radio 4’s PM Programme in 2009, Professor Paul Gregg (Economics Department and CMPO) suggested that unemployment costs the government approximately £8,000 per head.  So it is easy to see why the extension of the Financial Inclusion Fund has been put on the priority list.  It is fair to expect that each debt advisor can easily exceed this target and in the meantime, political noise is avoided.  Perhaps common sense can still win the day!

Mr Cable did however request other backers to support the Financial Inclusion Fund moving forward.  If ever there was the chance for one of the UK’s major banks to win some much needed publicity, then surely supporting this scheme makes for both a great PR exercise and provides a reasonable bargaining chip for the next time The Treasury wish to increase taxes on Banks.

As this blog did mention last week, with the sheer volume of cases that Citizens Advice lend support to, it can be difficult to always provide speedy responses to those in the most difficult and vulnerable of circumstances.

It is for this reason that at Lewis Alexander we offer a financial healthcheck.  Our lines are open 24 hours a day when calling our freephone number 0800 018 6868.

We are always happy to speak to new potential clients to see if we are able to help them with their financial difficulties and believe this is a service that can supplement the offering from Citizens Advice.

As a company, Lewis Alexander has offered free debt advice since incorporation in 2003, it is only when clients take our ongoing help and select services such as a debt management plan that we start to charge for our help and assistance.

Many of our clients say that they have approached the CAB and often have started to complete financial overview statements or budgeting forms that CAB’s advisors have provided.   This is a great first step in starting a journey towards a controlled and managed financial future as it allows you to truly understand your personal circumstances and allows us to take quicker action in speaking to your creditors should you want us to offer a solution that would work for you.

As an established provider of debt management services, we think it is important to consider your personal circumstances before providing our advice on the solution best suited to your situation.  Being in debt is very stressful and it is for this reason that we consider details of all of your options before highlighting the best option, to help you understand the best way out of your personal debt problems.

Our specialist advisors provide high levels of client service and treat your case in the strictest of confidence.

So remember, Citizens Advice is a great start to finding solutions to your debt problems, but if you wish to relieve our government of any costs you can and think you can afford a personal case manager for approximately £1 per day to work on your behalf urgently then contact Lewis Alexander today.

Our free from a landline personal debt helpline number again is 0800 018 6868.

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PayDay Loans – Collection overdue!

On February 9, 2011, in News, by Lewis Alexander

Westminster was awash with talk of a modern-day swindle last week, with a debate raging about 21st Century door-to-door lending, otherwise known as the Pay Day Loan or Payday Loans.

The Pay Day Loan is a short-term arrangement, typically from £50 to £1,500 for between 7 and 30 days with interest rates commonly starting at 600% and working their way up to 4,000% and beyond, when displayed as APRs.

  • Any type of short term loan over a repayment period of approximately 1 month will always show a higher APR than the average 5 year loan!

Such loans have swamped the UK market since the mid-naughties and Consumer Focus estimate that around 1.2 million adults took such a loan in 2009, with each facility worth an average of £292, enough to allow hard-up families to meet the gap between when they run out of money (typically around the 20th of each month) and the next pay day.

During the parliamentary session on the 3rd February, the House of Commons voted in favour of introducing caps on the rates that can be charged for different types of credit.  So is this good news for the vulnerable adults in the UK that rely on PayDay Loans.

Political tittle tattle, suggested that without an element of interference and regulation in this sector of the unsecured lending market, the knock-on effects to debt-levels in the UK would be considerable.

Economists would highlight that sky high prices for obtaining credit in this sector are simply a product of demand and supply.

  • Demand from families struggling against a wave of rising fuel prices, rising supermarket bills, the great salary freeze and the disappearance of equity from the housing market.
  • Supply (or the lack of it) emanates from High Street banks tightening up credit scoring and the flow of cash leant to the lowest earners in the UK and the small number of lenders in the Pay Day Loan market place.

Sadly, the options for obtaining cash are few and far between.  Short of accepting a loan from the local Tallyman, pawning the engagement ring, or hoping and wishing that your sure-thing in the 3.20 at Kempston romps home there are very few options.

  • Unless of course you approach the problem from a different angle…

Making your money last for longer each month is perhaps a better way to closing the gap between spending one month’s salary and receiving payment of the next upfront in the form of a Payday loan.

Our lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and call backs can be arranged.  By understanding all of your financial commitments we are able to consider personal financial solutions that could help you manage your money.

Call us today on 0800 018 6868 and once we have completed your free financial healthcheck we can start to see if there is a way of reducing your monthly debt commitments.  This may include making over-payments from savings, entering into debt management agreements or simply by re-arranging some of your payment dates to stretch your monthly salary.

Remember that there are many alternatives to expensive pay day loans simply call us FREE on 0800 018 6868 to hear about any options available to you!

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Reduction in Debt Advisors at Citizens Advice Bureau

On February 7, 2011, in News, by Lewis Alexander
  • free credit report UK from ExperianThe government announced last week that the Financial Inclusion Fund will not have its £25million a year subsidy extended beyond March.
  • This could result in many debt advisors at Citizens Advice Bureaus across the country being issued with redundancy notices as local councils seek to reduce costs.

To avoid a bottleneck of debt cases building up, CAB has also responded by starting to turn away certain new debt cases, just as economic commentators forecast that consumers with debt problems would start to rise in the UK during 2011.

  • So what does this actually mean for the ordinary man or woman in Britain?
  • Well, not a lot if your finances are in order and you are good with google, so one could avoid needing the CABs advice on money matters.

If however your financial situation leaves little to be desired and the recent hike in food costs, fuel, VAT and general every day expenses are pushing you ever closer to financial Armageddon, then it may be you who is most affected by the closure of the Financial Inclusion Fund.

A BBC report last week quoted that 200,000 extra requests for free debt advice were expected in 2011, so with these additional cases and fewer debt advisors to go round, it may be significantly harder for people to get in touch with someone at a CAB office to help you with your debt problems.

Whilst Citizens Advice offer a free service, with the sheer volume of cases that their advisors attend to, it was already hard to provide a speedy resolution to those with the most acute debt problems.  Whilst the government may replace the Financial Inclusion Fund with a new web and telephone based service, there is no substitute for having a professional case manager to speak to regarding your personal circumstances.

  • At Lewis Alexander, we offer a free from a landline personal debt helpline, where you can speak to one of our trained debt advisors.

Our number is 0800 018 6868 and we are always happy to speak to new potential clients to see if we are able to help them with their financial difficulties.

Once we have taken your case we will appoint a case manager who will be your personal point of contact.  Your case manager will look after your debt portfolio and will work with your creditors to progress you towards a better managed financial existence.

As a long established debt management company we take pride in ensuring our staff offer a level of client service that is second to none.  We are also very proud of the results we obtain when negotiating with creditors on our existing clients behalf.

Being in debt can add to what is already a stressful modern lifestyle and is something that with a little bit of help and some good old-fashioned discipline can be managed, to lead you into a managed future.

At Lewis Alexander, we are able to help a wide variety of clients out of their debt problems as long as they have a regular income and a determination to meet a regular monthly or weekly payment.

So if you are struggling to contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau regarding UK debt advice or would like to hear the debt solutions that Lewis Alexander could offer you based on your current circumstances then give us a call on 0800 018 6868.

  • Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
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Funding a house move on unsecured credit?

On February 1, 2011, in News, by Lewis Alexander
  • free credit report UK from ExperianIt seemed like the only option at the time!

Pregnant, with your third baby on the way, the two bedroom starter home that you and your husband had long outgrown (even before the twins came along) just had to be upgraded, so you took an unsecured bank loan of £10k to fund the costs of moving.

By the time the solicitors, estate agents, removers had been paid and you had gone on a trip to B&Q to buy some paint for the new nursery, there was none of that £10k left!  Still, with 6 months left on your maternity leave, you had no immediate worries as you had that secure job in a legal firm.  Even in times of trouble there was always a need for bankers, accountants and lawyers.

  • Wasn’t there?

You decided to extend your maternity leave for a few extra months.  Extra time with baby was more important than the job! which quite frankly, would be there when you were ready, and used to the idea of placing young Emily into nursery.  This time round though felt different, with a baby girl to go with your twin boys it had restored balance in the family.  She would be your last and so making the new house a true home became the priority.

  • The spending, therefore, continued!

Nice outfits for baby (nicer ones for mum!) expense after expense on the new house including a rather unpleasant row with the neighbours over replacing their fence! Meant that further unsecured borrowing followed on credit cards, together with an extension to that initial bank loan.  In fact, by the time that you were ready to return to work almost a full year after Emily was born, you found that rather than economising like you had with the twins, you had burnt through some £40k!

Still it wouldn’t matter, as you were bound to get a decent bonus on your first year back and that would start to set you straight! Except you returned in the spring of 2009, there had been no pay-rise whilst you had been away and the firm had lost some significant clients as they quite inconsiderately went bankrupt during the credit crunch – that you had vaguely paid attention to on working lunch!

No bonuses or pay-rises in either 2009 and 2010 together with those astronomical nursery fees meant that your £40k unsecured debt mountain was not shrinking in any way shape or form! The kitchen still needed replacing (and probably the bathroom too) and you were fed up sleeping on that lumpy, dumpy old mattress!

  • It all starts to feel a bit much!

Despite the family having a household income of nearly £60k a year, you seemed to be struggling under the weight of paying back your unsecured debt!

  • Surely there are others in your situation?
  • How do you start getting back on an even keel?

Well, the first step of any difficulty is admitting that you have a problem and by getting this far through our blog post you have probably admitted to yourself that this is indeed you!

Still, don’t panic as the debt management specialists at Lewis Alexander can help you to clear personal debt problems whilst also making that unsecured debt mountain less of a daily problem in your life.

We start by taking some important details about you, your finances, your current priority and non priority debt commitments and get some more information about your personal circumstances before starting to tailor a debt management plan that is best suited to you.

At Lewis Alexander we don’t force IVAs onto our clients as we respect that this isn’t always the answer – particularly for respected professional people who have had a bit of bad luck or made a small error of judgement along the way.

Call our debt helpline free from a landline using 0800 018 6868 and we can start to talk through the specifics of your situation.  We treat all our communications in the strictest of confidence and we understand that you may need some time to consider the financial options or debt solutions that are available to you.

At Lewis Alexander we give you this time and would like to help you when you are ready to commit to a best suited debt solution.

  • All we ask it that you have a commitment to reducing your unsecured debts and a regular source of income.
  • Our free phone number again is 0800 018 6868.

Get in touch today and see if we can make a difference to yoru daily financial life!

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