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Be careful who you trust to provide IVA information

The media and internet are awash with information about IVA’s. Sadly, much of this IVA information is inaccurate, incomplete and sometimes plain misleading.

A huge industry has developed around the sale and management of IVA’s. Thankfully many businesses within the industry handle their responsibilities with care and professionalism. However a minority appear prepared to say or do anything in order to persuade somebody to use their IVA services.

With so much money to be made evidence of mis-selling began to appear in 2006. A BBC News and Inside Money report in July 2006 exposed poor practice in certain quarters. The report included the case of a lady living entirely upon benefits who was persuaded to enter into an IVA. An example reported by the UK Insolvency Helpline exposed an IVA company including the benefit income of the disabled son of a nurse in their calculation of her IVA monthly payment. Unsurprisingly she was finding the payments unmanageable as the payment was required to cost the additional costs associated with the disablement.

As the numbers of IVA’s have steadily increased each year concerns about misinformation and mis-selling have grown. The Office of Fair Trading has been working hard to improve the balance of the information provided by IVA companies (and other parties involved in selling IVA’s) but industry insiders remain fully aware of some poor-quality IVA information and practice continuing. This situation was confirmed in 2010 when the OFT investigated the services and advertising of 200 companies within the IVA UK debt management sector. 129 of the 200 companies received notices from the OFT to make changes or face enforcement action against their consumer credit licences which they require in order to be able to trade.

Finding trustworthy IVA information

There are a number of steps that will help to ensure you have received the full information required to make a decision to select any particular debt solution or debt solution provider:

  • Do not accept the first offer of debt help or debt advice that you receive. No matter how worrying your situation, it’s always best to find the right advice rather than the quickest advice. A second or third opinion from other advice sources is always valuable.

  • Go direct to IVA companies. Many IVA “agents” exist to sell IVA’s to you and then sell your case and details on to an IVA company. They often provide poor IVA information, charge unnecessary upfront fees and contribute to completely avoidable delays in getting the IVA up and running.

  • Consult multiple sources of IVA information. If different advisers are offering different solutions try to establish why this is the case. If you are consistently receiving the same information you will be more confident and reassured about any final decision you later make.

  • Research the companies that you have spoken to. Putting their company name into a web search may reveal positive or negative reviews from previous clients which will help you to decide if they are a credible source of help or a risk to your financial wellbeing.

  • Use public web forums to confirm your thoughts and answer your questions. The experts on these forums must be confident in their advice when providing it to the public… they are providing the advice in a very open and transparent way. In an IVA forum you will find that others who are in a similar position to you will share their experiences with you.

  • Finally... trust your gut feeling. An IVA generally lasts for five years during which you are putting control of much of your financial affairs into the hands of the IVA company that you select. Which company do you feel will be the most professional and courteous during that period? Your contact with various companies and your internet research will help you to decide.

IVA information is only part of the wider picture.

While certain companies seem to be promoting an IVA as “the only show in town”, please remember that there are many other debt solutions that may be more appropriate for you.

In addition to IVA information it’s suggested that you also find out about bankruptcy, debt relief orders, refinancing and debt management plans.

Only by understanding how these solutions would work for you will you be in a position to confidently take the best decision to deal with your debts and restore your financial position.

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IVA Advice Forum Advisor Kelly Jago IVA Advice Forum Expet Susan Clay IVA Advice Forum Expert Beverley Budsworth

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