'Don't suffer in silence over debt' - Martina Anderson MLA
Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has urged people experiencing debt problems not to 'suffer in silence'.
Ms. anderson said:
"Many people are experiencing huge problems regarding debt as they struggle to survive in the current economic climate, particularly following the Christmas and New Year periods."
"Unfortunately there are unscrupulous people out there only too willing to take advantage of peoples difficulties. What is generally referred to as the 'Credit Crunch' is looked on by loan sharks and even certain so-called reputable credit companies who are offering loans on a door-to-door basis as a 'Credit Opportunity' to be exploited. What they don't make clear is the exorbitant interest rates they charge - some as high as 175%. The result is more and more vulnerable people are getting into debt that they simply can't manage.
"In many cases, this debt is hidden from friends, neighbours and even family, resulting in an incredible strain on people's lives.
"I am urging people not to suffer in silence and to seek help with their debt problems. There are organisations out there such as the Citizens Advice Bureau who can assist in debt management or people can contact their local Sinn Féin Office and we will put you in touch with someone who can help.
"I would caution people not to be forced into the arms of loan sharks. There are other reputable sources of credit out there and for those on benefit there is access to the Social Security Social Fund Loans.
"Sinn Féin is also pressing for changes to legislation that would enable Credit Unions to offer increased financial services so that people can access affordable credit."