Lizzie attended one of our drop-in sessions. She was distressed and worried about a debt she could not get rid of. She told us she didn’t want her children to be left paying off what she owed and didn’t want them to know about the debt.
She was referred to our specialist advice team.
The 66-year-old was living alone in council accommodation and was suffering from a long-term illness. She was in receipt of benefits, including housing benefit.
She had one debt to a catalogue company for £3,000. She was paying £143 per month but £124 of that was charges imposed by the company. Her debt was only going down by £18 a month and would take her 16 years to pay off.
Lizzie’s surplus income after essential costs was just £73 a month.
Our advisers asked the company to freeze their interest and charges and accept a payment of £73 a month which would cause less stress to Lizzie and allow her to clear the debt in four years.
The company were very reluctant to do this, so we pointed out official guidance on treating customers with forbearance and asked them for a response we could forward to the Financial Ombudsman.
The company then agreed to accept our offer and said they would consider backdating the freezing of interest and charges if Lizzie could provide evidence of her medical condition. She was able to send them documents about her health going back three years and the company decided to remove £204 of charges and £3,700 worth of interest so the account was now zero with no more to pay.
Lizzie was delighted that the burden of debt had been lifted from her shoulders.