A Guide to the Different Type of Debts

by : James Miller

To thoroughly understand this article, here are some definitions of common terms you might come across. A bad debt is any form of credit where what is owed has not been reimbursed within the terms and conditions of the borrowing agreement. A debt tends to become bad where it is unlikely that the loan provider will ever regain the money. Having a bad debt on your file will make it harder when you want to take on a loan in the future.

The National Debt Line is a nationwide helpline. It offers (free of charge), individual and private counselling to individuals on handling debt conflicts in the United Kingdom. Their helpline service can be reached all week long and they also have an internet site that has a lot of useful help and support on it. The National Debtline is part of the Money Advice Trust (MAT), which is a registered charity. The Money Advice Trust (MAT) gives consumers an ordered approach to handling critical debt so that they might regain control of their finances.

There are two types of debt - priority debts and non-priority debts. If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are unable to service all your debts, it is important that you understand the type of debts you have. That way, you can make sure that any money you have left every month to pay for debts goes towards the most important (ie: the priority debts) first.

Priority debts
These debts are where the companies you owe money to - the creditors - have the power to take severe legal actions against you if you fail to pay. The amount of the debt does not make it a priority, but what the creditors can do to recover their money from you that makes it a priority debt.

Examples of priority debts:
. Mortgage arrears - your mortgage lender can repossess your home
. Rent arrears ? you can be evicted by your landlord if you are in arrears
. Fines - fines such as those for traffic offences or magistrates court fines - child support, maintenance, council tax or rates. The Court can instruct bailiffs to possess your goods. If you still owe money after this, you can be sent to prison
. VAT and income tax - you can be imprisoned for non-payment of income tax or VAT or at the very least, made bankrupt
. Hire purchase - it depends on what the item, is, but, for example, it will be a priority debt if it is a car and you need it to get to work - if you do not pay the debt, it will be repossessed.
. Utility debts (eg gas, electricity debts) - your utility supply will be disconnected

These need to be repaid before your non-priority debts, so do not offer to repay any of your non-priority debts before dealing with these.

For non-priority debts, you are unlikely to lose the roof over your head or get imprisoned. However, you still do need to make an offer to pay ? otherwise your creditors will still take you to Court - and could send the bailiffs in.

Examples of non-priority debts:
. Overpayments on benefits
. Arrears on credit or store cards
. Overdrafts and loans (unless the loan is secured against your property, then it becomes a priority debt)
. Catalogue arrears
. Hire purchase - goods on HP that are non-essential, such as sofa or audio equipment