Know Your Rights: Solutions for problem debt November 2014

We borrowed a lot to pay for our children’s college fees and weddings, when we both had good incomes. We now earn less than before and find it very hard to cover our debts. We’re afraid to open letters or answer the phone in case it’s another demand for payment. Is there any help for people like us?
You are clearly in financial difficulty and struggling with your debts. There are many people in a similar situation.
Three debt solutions have been set up to help people with serious debt problems to sort out their situation and get protection from their creditors. They are the Debt Relief Notice (DRN), Debt Settlement Arrangement (DSA) and Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA).
The appropriate solution for you depends on the size of your debts and whether or not you have a mortgage. You apply through an Approved Intermediary for a DRN and through a Personal Insolvency Practitioner for a DSA or PIA. These qualified insolvency professionals are supervised by the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI).
When the solution has been put in place, your creditors cannot contact you while you stick to the agreed arrangements. Depending on your situation, some or all of your debt can be written off.
Many Money Advice and Budgeting Services (MABS) companies have been authorised as Approved Intermediaries to help people on low incomes, with debts under €20,000, through the Debt Relief Notice (DRN) process.
For a DSA or PIA, which generally cover larger debts, your creditors must agree to the solution proposed by your Personal Insolvency Practitioner. If they don’t agree, you then have the option of bankruptcy.
You can get further information from MABS on 0761 07 2000 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 8 pm), from mabs.ie, from the ISI’s helpline 0761 06 4200 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm) and from isi.gov.ie. The ISI also has a new website backontrack.ie for people who are struggling with debt.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Dungloe Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761075430 Address: Dungloe Citizens Information Centre, Gweedore Road, Dungloe.
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.