Britons turning into Ostriches
Nearly six out of ten Britons with outstanding debts don't know how much they owe but eight out of ten say that this does not concern them according to the latest research by credit reference agency Callcredit.
The research also revealed men are more credit savvy than women, young people are least concerned about their levels of debt and those in East England feel the most burdened by their borrowing.
- 44 per cent of people with outstanding debts don't know exactly how much they owe.
- 15 per cent of people with outstanding debts haven't got a clue how much they owe.
- 18 per cent of women haven't got a clue how much they owe compared to 12 per cent of men.
- Britons in the 45 to 54 age group were most concerned about their levels of debt with 25 per cent saying they are at their limit or stretched.
- Regionally people in East England feel the most burdened by debt with 36 per cent saying they are at their limit or stretched.
Callcredit director Alison Nicholson warns:
"The findings of our survey are disturbing. People need to monitor their levels of debt so they can manage it effectively, having such a carefree attitude towards their borrowing is leaving people open to financial fraud and overindebtedness."
Of the 59 per cent of people who didn't know exactly how much they owed only 14 per cent said they had reached their credit limit and just 6 per cent said they were stretched and worried about being able to keep up with repayments when asked about their total debts including mortgages.
Men, it seems, are more conscientious than women when it comes to checking the state of their credit finances. Nearly one in five women confesses to being totally in the dark about the scale of their personal debts whereas for men the figure is closer to one in 10.
Callcredit's survey also revealed that people become far more credit-savvy the older they get. Over 60 per cent of people aged 65 and over said they knew precisely how much they owed and 90 per cent said they felt they were living comfortably within their credit limits.
By contrast young people aged 16-24 are the most credit ignorant. Although 92 per cent said they were comfortable with their debts, almost 80 per cent in this age range said they weren't sure what their outstanding commitments added up to while 33 per cent confirmed they had no idea.
People aged 45-54 appear more concerned about debt with the highest number of respondents (26 per cent) saying they are either at their credit limit or overstretched. A similar percentage (24 per cent) in the 25-34 age range, feel the same way.
Geographically, people in the East of England feel most burdened by their borrowing with 36 per cent saying they are at their limit or stretched compared to 20 per cent in London, the Midlands and Southern England and just 11 per cent in Wales and the South West.
"With identity fraud increasing year on year the serious underlying message from this survey is there is too much consumer ignorance and apathy towards debt. If people don't know what their commitments are how can they be expected to spot fraud before it becomes a major problem for them?" added Alison Nicholson.
Callcredit offers online access to the information lenders use to assess their creditworthiness through www.mycallcredit.com. It shows people what credit commitments are registered in their name and provides an alert service via text message or email if a significant change takes place on their record.
"myCallcredit empowers consumers to take better care of and more responsibility for the state of their finances," emphasised Callcredit's Alison Nicholson.