Midlanders best of a bad bunch when it comes to debt

More than five out of ten Midlanders with outstanding debts don't know how much they owe but eight out of ten say this does not concern them according to the latest research by credit reference agency Callcredit.

The research revealed 80 per cent of Midlanders were comfortable with their level of borrowing, bang on the national average, and 47 per cent know exactly how much they owe, the highest level of debt awareness anywhere in the UK.

The figures are in stark contrast to Scotland, where only 22 per cent of people know exactly how much they owe and are closest to Southern England at 46 per cent and Lancashire and Yorkshire where 44 per cent of people know exactly how much they owe. But 20 per cent of Midlanders still claim they are at their borrowing limit or stretched.

Callcredit director Alison Nicholson warns:

"Midlanders may be the most credit savvy region in the UK in terms of knowing how much they owe but with less than half the region being able to put an accurate figure on it there's still a long way to go.

"The findings of our survey are disturbing. People need to monitor their levels of debt so they can manage it effectively, having a carefree attitude towards their borrowing is leaving people open to financial fraud and overindebtedness."

Overall 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.

"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.