I am a 32-year-old man, married with 1 child aged 3. For years I have been struggling financially and I have been moving money around to keep what I thought was on top of my debts. It came to a point where after hiding several debts from my wife, I started to fall behind with certain payments. This lead to an encounter with a bailiff from Robinsons Way trying to force his way into my property while I was at work.
This led to an awkward conversation with my family and it led to me admitting all the debts I was in. Looking back on this, I should have been honest from the get go and explained the situation we were in; however, at the time burying my head in the sand seemed like the right thing to do.
My wife and I agreed that we needed to tackle the situation head on, so we decided to contact all the companies that I had debts with, to explain the situation and too see what help they could offer. I stated to compile a list and picked up the phone. I started with NatWest bank who I had a £3,000 credit card that I had maxed out years ago. When I spoke to them, it turns out that they had sold the debt onto a 3rd party debt collection agency called “Lowell Portfolio”. The conversation I had with NatWest was very polite, professional and importantly civil, however when I spoke to Lowell it was the complete opposite.
I had experienced debt collection agency’s before, and they collect money based on fear and intimidation. I explained my situation to the customer service representative while explaining that I was happy to pay what I owed as it was my debt in the first place; and asked what they could do to help. I was informed they wouldn’t be able to help and I would have to pay the outstanding balance by the end of the day otherwise collection officers would turn up at my property to seize assets. I again repeated that I needed help and support, but my plea fell on deaf ears.
I didn’t want to experience that type of conversation again, so I borrowed money from QuickQuid to pay Lowells which was at a ridiculously high interest rate, but I justified it in my head that I was paying one creditor off. It never dawned on me that I was sinking further and further into debt and at my current debt level I wouldn’t be able to pay it back.
My debts included
Around this time, I found out my partner was pregnant, instead of being filled with joy I was filled with dread and uncertainty at the prospect of being in so much debt. How would I be able to afford to bring up a child? On one wage how would we cope? I spent many sleepless nights tossing and turning in my bed worried about the future.
It was late one night that I decided to google debt help, and I stumbled across IVA advice. I read the information on the website and decided to make an enquiry. I never once imagined they would be able to help, I assumed I wouldn’t qualify as the solution seemed too good to be true. At this point I was in over £15,000 worth of debt and expected to pay back over £700 a month. According to the information I read I might be able to reduce that by 75%. I made the enquiry and thought nothing more of it.
The next morning, I had a phone call at 9:00am, normally I would ignore calls from numbers I didn’t recognise but on this occasion I answered. It was a call from IVAadvice. I assumed I would be spoken to like I was worthless, and that the situation I was in was all my fault and that I couldn’t do anything. I was very wrong! The gentleman I spoke to was polite, professional but also understanding, we even had a bit of a life. This completely put my mind at ease that he was willing to help me, and after explaining to him the situation I was in; he said I would probably qualify for an IVA.
He needed to see 3 documents from myself,
- 3 months bank statements
- 3 months wage slips
- Proof of ID
He then explained that they use “WhatsAPP” and I could simply take a picture of my documents and send them across. I was unsure how I could get my bank statements as I wasn’t too family with Nationwide’s online banking, but he stayed on the phone and talked me through exactly what I needed to do.
He received all the documents and within 5 minutes he’d put me through to a insolvency practitioner who went through things in detail. He explained I should qualify for an IVA but he would need to put my case forward towards my creditors and that 75% of them would need to agree.
I panicked at this point because I assumed that they would instantly say no after my previous experience with Lowells. He then re-assured me and said he wouldn’t put me forward if he didn’t think there was a strong chance that I would be accepted. He asked me when I was free for one of his planners to go through the paperwork and get the IVA approved. I explained that this would be tricky as I was about to leave for work, but he said there was a slot available after I finished work at 8pm.
I contacted my wife and explained what I had spoken about and we agreed that it was exactly the solution I needed. I explained to my wife that it would affect my credit rating, but he laughed that it was so bad, it couldn’t get worse! It would run for 5 years and after 6 years it would be removed from my credit history and I could rebuild my credit. This was the last thing I wanted to do! Once this was all done and dusted I never wanted to see a credit agreement ever again!!!
That night I spoke to the planner and after 45 minutes he told me that it was all accepted from there end, and they would start the ball rolling on informing my creditors. I couldn’t believe it when he told me my payments towards my debts would be £175 a month! This would save me £525 a month but it would still pay all my debts off. Then he told me something that nearly made me fall off my chair, I would write off nearly £5,000 worth of my debt!
- Reduced my payments to £175 a month
- Reduced my payments by 75%
- Wrote off £5,000 of debt!
I was so grateful for all the help I received from IVAadvice and the insolvency practitioner that set my IVA up. I have been in my IVA for 12 months now and I can honestly say it’s the best thing I ever did! We have no worries about who’s knocking on the door, or what letter is going to appear on the doormat next. I’m still not sleeping, but that’s because I have a 4-month-old and not because of debt!
When IVAadvice contacted me to leave them a testimonial I jumped at the chance. If I can share my story and it inspires others to do the same, then it’s a job well done. I honestly can’t thank them enough!