Living with Debt - The Signs


Whether you are an employer, friend, neighbour, partner, parent, or colleague; the information on this page will help you to recognise the common signs displayed by people in problem debt and how you might be able to make a difference.

Risk of Crisis Debt

Research by the Money Advice Service (now the Money and Pension Service) found that 1 in 6 adults in the UK is at risk of crisis debt, yet only 20% seek help. People with problem debt often feel ashamed & embarrassed about it. It’s not like they’re going to shout about it, so how can we help them?

Know the signs - Check the problem

Of course, even if you spot a few signs, it might not mean that someone has problem debt, so you will need to start a conversation first.

People do not tend to wear an ‘I’ve got Debts!’ sandwich board around their neck, but they do usually display some tell-tale signs.

  • They have had an obvious income shock

  • Avoid answering the door

  • Avoid phone calls

  • Avoid opening the post

  • Stops repaying money you loaned them

  • Lots of credit cards

  • Not sleeping well

  • Acting secretly

  • Avoids conversations about money

  • Noticeable weight gain or loss

  • Avoids social events

  • Working excessive hours

  • Anxious, depressed or distant

  • Poor performance at work

  • Not taking holidays

  • Never any food in the cupboards

  • Irritability or confrontational behaviour

Friends & Family Debt Club Toolkit

Once you have identified that someone you know has problem debt, what do you do next? At Money Advice Hub, we make it our mission to be innovative and therefore we developed a first of its kind – the Friends & Family resource kit, or ‘Debt Club’.

Please visit our Debt Club Toolkit resource web page, it’s free, open access, with no membership requirements, just your passion to help. There’s always a way out of problem debt, so let’s work together. One of our clients told us recently that getting debt advice literally saved her life, she had seriously thought about suicide. Imagine the difference you could make to someone’s life by being proactive?

Remember the #1st rule of Debt Club is: You must talk about Debt Club!