Mounting debts owed to catalogue companies resulted in 25,000 calls to the National Debtline in 2011, according to figures released this morning.
The helpline received more calls in relation to catalogue debts that calls related to rent, mortgages or payday loans. There is also evidence that the problem is growing with over 7,000 calls received in the first quarter of the year.
Catalogue debt is the fifth most common problem debt dealt with by National Debtline advisers, behind other issues such as energy debts, credit cards and council tax payments.
Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said catalogue debts go largely unmentioned in public these days, but advisers at National Debtline hear from nearly 100 people every day struggling to repay such debts.
She added: “Many people might be surprised to hear we get more calls on catalogue debts than on things like mortgages, rent and payday loans.
“When buying from a catalogue, many people don’t realise they are signing a consumer credit agreement, which means the debt is enforceable in the courts.
“Additionally many people don’t realise that missing a payment on a catalogue debt will usually invalidate any special low or zero per cent interest deal.”
The report was based on figures calculated from data measured in February 2012.
Top National Debtline debts:
1. Bank loans/overdrafts – 60% of callers have this kind of debt.
2. Credit/store cards – 56% of callers.
3. Council tax arrears – 19% of callers.
4. Energy debts – 15% of callers.
5. Catalogue (mail order) debts – 14% of callers.
6. Water debts – 9.5% of callers.
7. Payday loans – 9% of callers.
8. Rent arrears – 9% of callers.
9. Telephone debts – 8.5% of callers.
10. Mortgage arrears – 8.5% of callers.