Wales and the South West confident but misguided when it comes to debt

Nearly nine out of ten people who live in Wales and the South West are comfortable with their levels of debt even though more than one in ten is clueless about how much they owe according to the latest research from credit reference agency Callcredit.

The research revealed that only 38 per cent of people in Wales and the South West know the exact amount of their unsecured loans, below the UK average of 41 per cent. But Wales and the South West tops the table of those most comfortable with their level of borrowing, 89 per cent against a countrywide average of 80 per cent.

The findings are in stark contrast to the East of England where only 64 per cent of people are comfortable with their credit commitments however, the number of people in both areas who claim to be concerned about keeping up their existing payments is joint second in the stretched table at 7 per cent.

Callcredit director Alison Nicholson warns:

"People in Wales and the South West may be the most comfortable in the UK with their levels of borrowing but the number of people in this area who actually know how much they owe is below the national average.

"People need to monitor their levels of debt so they can manage it effectively, having a carefree attitude towards 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.