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What happens if I don’t keep up with credit card repayments?

Sharon McDougall - Updated - 1st May 2024 - 2 minutes to read

Credit card debt is unsecured so you don’t need to worry about any of your assets being repossessed, but getting behind with credit card repayments can still cause an alarming spiral into debt.

High interest rates of up to 30% and more can quickly create severe financial problems, so what happens when you can’t afford to make the minimum payments and is there anything you can do to help yourself?

What happens if I receive initial contact from the credit card company?

When you miss a payment the credit card provider is likely to charge a fee, and will notify you by letter of the missed payment. They’ll expect a payment to be made straight away to bring the account into line, and if you don’t respond they may decide to take legal action.

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How to negotiate?

Being open and honest about your financial problems may encourage the credit card company to offer you lower repayments for a while, or perhaps freeze the interest. It’s important to contact the provider as soon as possible, however, so they can see you’re not deliberately withholding payment.

What are default notices?

If you miss three or more payments the creditor could place your account into default, which means they can take enforcement action to recover their money, or they may decide to pass the debt to a collection agency. Under the Consumer Credit Act (CCA) you must be given 14 days to repay before they try to enforce the debt.

Could I face court action if I can't pay?

Your creditor can begin court proceedings against you if you don’t pay. If the debt is £5,000 or less this can be done through a ‘simple procedure notice of claim,’ or an initial writ if you owe more than £5,000. If the debt remains unpaid they could decide to serve a charge for payment, which is often a precursor for enforcement action.

What are ‘Diligence’ or enforcement action measures?

Creditors can take various measures to recover their money including arresting your earnings, which involves your employer deducting a fixed sum from your wages to repay the debt over a period of time. Bank arrestment is also a possibility, and this freezes a proportion of your bank balance to repay the creditor.

So is there anything you can do to prevent court action and the diligence measures described?

Seek professional help

Obtaining advice from licensed insolvency practitioners (IPs) can prevent such drastic measures and help you recover financial stability. Scotland Debt Solutions specialises in helping Scottish people escape debt, and will make sure you understand all your options.

These may include formal insolvency procedures such as the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) or Scottish Trust Deed, or informal negotiations with your creditors for new and more affordable repayment plans.

The involvement of licensed IPs in negotiations can sometimes persuade creditors to offer more time to pay, so get in touch with one of our experts – we can arrange a free same-day meeting to quickly establish your best options.

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Sharon McDougall


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