Consumer Debt Campaign
12 November 2001

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Trading Standards Officers with The Highland Council are joining forces with the Office of Fair Trading to promote a campaign urging the public to keep their debt under control.  With total UK consumer debt, including mortgages, reaching more than (Pounds)700 billion for the first time, consumers are being encouraged to take a three-step approach to credit:-
? Think carefully before signing a credit agreement;
? Compare lenders and APRs before borrowing generally speaking the lower the
APR, the better the deal;
? Seek good impartial advice if you are already in debt (local Trading

Standards Offices or CABs have trained staff, who can give advice and assistance to those who have debt problems).  Trading Standards officers in Highland plan to take this message to consumers and students throughout the week with special news articles and displays in
local schools.   Nigel Mackenzie, Head of Trading Standards, said: "Its time to start laying foundations in educating the young in how to shop around for credit and to think through the consequences of entering a credit agreement before they sign.

We have set up two displays at local schools which in time we hope to expand to more schools in the Highland area. The display will show how expensive it is to purchase goods using store cards and other forms of credit.  A recent analysis of standard APR rates for credit card purchases showed rates varied from 8.0% to 22.4%*.  This really shows it is always wise to shop around for the best deal otherwise you could make a very costly error in judgement when taking out credit. The displays will also emphasise where to get help regarding credit and budgeting advice."

Senior Home Economics students at Dingwall Academy will take part on Tuesday (13th November) and Inverness Royal Academy sixth year classes will be involved on Friday (16 November).  Trading Standards staff will be on hand at each display to answer any questions
the students may have.  The campaign will also have on offer free leaflets specially devised for National Consumer Week and educational leaflets on how to budget income and cope with debt.

Anyone interested in contacting the Trading Standards Unit regarding advice on credit and debt should call the Consumer Advice Helpline on 0845 600 4222.

Free help on debt issues can be obtained from the following organisations:
a) Local Trading Standards office on 01463/228709
b) Local Citizens Advice Bureau
c) Independent advice agencies through the Federation of Information and Advice
Centres (FIAC) on 020 7489 1800
d) The National Debtline, which has a 24 hour answering service on 0800 808 4000
e) Consumer Credit Couselling Service on 0800 1381111
f) Direct Debt Line on 01323 481111

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