When the Bailiffs Came Knocking

09/21/2016 09:51 am ET Updated Sep 21, 2016

I’ve been asked to keep the name of this person out of the article as they still feel that having bad credit is something to be ashamed of. It isn’t. Like so many others, their family has no clue of the stress they were under when they hit rock bottom with their credit. This is their story.

It began quite innocently, I turned 18 and suddenly the bank offered me an overdraft and gave me credit cards totalling £2000. At the time, nearly 20 years ago, £2000 was a lot of money and for a little while I felt as though I was living the high life. My boyfriend at the time, loved the nights out and presents that were all paid for by my credit card and for a while the payments were easy to maintain. It became an addiction.

Then I became overdrawn. I didn’t worry too much, every one had an overdraft, everyone had a credit card, I was simply growing up and taking on more responsibilities – i.e. more debt. The problems began when I ran out of money and my overdraft slipped into unauthorised lending, and then the charges started to pile up.

I was charged a lot of money, nearly a hundred pounds a day for direct debits bouncing, unpaid bills and, of course, the unauthorised overdraft itself. I found myself in tens of thousands pounds worth of debt and as I couldn’t pay it back, I took out more credit cards to pay my bills.

I paid for clothes using store cards and furniture through hire purchase. I was a mother by this time and I’d actually lost count of how much debt I was in. I buried my head in the sand and would change my phone number regularly. I would never open the door to strangers and I’d never open the post.

I thought that if I could pretend it wasn’t happening, it would disappear.

Of course, there came a time when I couldn’t get another credit card. Applications were denied for store cards and even a debit card was hard to come by. I had to use a prepaid card to pay my bills and the electricity company installed a meter which took a high percentage of my cash before it contributed to the electric in the flat. I was becoming a little desperate but I had hope it would be ok.

I was a single parent studying for a degree while working as a waitress during the day. I lived hand to mouth and had no disposable income but I hoped, once I passed my exams, I’d find a job that was well paid.

I did actually do that eventually but not before items were taken from our home to pay bills. We sold the sofa, the TV, anything we could think of, and if we didn’t sell it the bailiffs took it to pay the council tax.

The well-paid job didn’t pay enough to cover all my debts and put food on the table too.

Then I found MyCreditMonitor, a place where I could see exactly what I owed and even contact the companies. It was so easy with it all neatly arranged and I could work towards slowly paying off my debts. The information on site helped me choose the most important debts to pay and also helped me cut my debts by a significant amount.

I can’t live without it now. There are still debts that pop up occasionally that I’d completely forgotten about. That’s how far I’d sunk, that’s how the addiction worked. Now I’m alerted when one of these pop up and I can tackle it instantly by getting in touch with the company and offering an affordable payment.

Managing Finances
Martina Mercer
Managing Finances
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