InDebted / Resources / Taking the shame out of debt and putting the human back in

Updated 14 Aug 2022

Taking the shame out of debt and putting the human back in

By Russell Cummings

Energy bills have reached heights beyond comprehension, inflation has hit a 40-year high and average pay increases simply aren’t keeping up. For the vast majority of UK consumers, making ends meet comfortably is fast becoming a luxury, no longer a given.

The debt collection industry is globally renowned for its negative perception. But as the highest customer-rated debt collector with nearly 2,000 4.9* Google reviews, InDebted has a different take. We pioneer a product-led approach that offers a personalised service to each customer, based on individual preferences, behaviours and habits.

With our official launch into the UK, we asked Opinium to survey 2,000 Brits to understand their feelings and experiences of debt. These are my takeaways:

77% are concerned about the increasing cost of living and its impact on their financial position

The increased cost of living is far more than just inflation. The domino effect of global events and the pandemic are translated to those in the UK in the form of extortionate fuel prices and rising energy costs (to name a few). Given the CEO of E.on announcing in May that 40% of their customers are likely to be plunged into fuel poverty, it’s clear that the ripples won’t be getting smaller any time soon.

In constrained circumstances, financial safety nets can offer much needed comfort. However, up to 30% of the population in some UK regions have no savings at all. With financial pressures building, Brits are increasingly likely to find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to making ends meet.

Each day, Citizen Advice in England and Wales deal with over 2,000 debt issues and considering the above, this is likely to rise. Like inflation, debt does not discriminate. Each of us is one personal disaster away from falling behind on regular payments.

But, what’s the experience we would want for our families and friends if they were to fall behind? How would we want them to be treated? How would we want them to feel? These are the questions that we’ve asked ourselves at InDebted.

50% have experienced poor mental health and wellbeing because of debt

Finances and mental health are intrinsically linked. Not only can poor mental health be a consequence of falling behind, it can also be a driver. In recent research, StepChange found that 55% of clients in financial difficulty for six months had not sought advice due to anxiety or mental health. These statistics demonstrate the vulnerable position that those in debt are forced into.

Additionally, there’s no question that there is a stigma surrounding financial difficulty. Having worked in the debt collection industry for over 20 years, experience has shown me that those in debt can fear being judged, embarrassed and shamed for their situation. It’s our aim to break this cycle and empower individuals to take those ever-important first steps towards financial freedom.

50% would prefer a digital-first approach to debt collection

The days of answering the phone to unknown numbers are well and truly gone. On the surface, the collection industry is adapting to the modern consumer’s needs, but it’s the detail that will make the difference.

Investing in product development and personalised technology is the difference. It’s the difference between customers feeling not only heard, but listened to. Providing options to structure payments in a frequency, amount and method that works, has given rise to not only higher customer satisfaction, but overall collection rates - InDebted outperforms all other collections agencies by 40%.

But, digital doesn’t work for everyone. There will always be some who just prefer speaking to a real person. We can’t forget the human element of why debt occurs and the effect it can have, and the value of receiving empathy during a time of real worry should not be underestimated.

Final thoughts

When energy bills have doubled but the mortgage is still due, UK consumers are now more vulnerable than ever to falling behind payments. For those that do, accessing a service that has been created to be flexible, easy and most importantly, human should be a given. Now that InDebted has officially landed, it’s time to take the shame out of falling behind and put the human back in.

Interested in InDebted?

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