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East of England most burdened by its borrowing

11 April 2005

The East of England is the most debt burdened region of the UK with 66 per cent of its residents claiming they don't know how much they owe and 36 per cent saying they have reached their borrowing limit or are stretched according to the latest research by credit reference agency Callcredit.

The research revealed only 64 per cent of people in the East of England were comfortable with their level of borrowing compared 80 per cent across the UK as a whole and only 34 per cent of borrowers knew exactly how much they owed compared to 41 per cent nationwide.

Only the Scottish, at 22 per cent, fared worse than those in the East of England, at 34 per cent, when asked if they knew exactly how much their unsecured debts amounted to.

Callcredit director Alison Nicholson warns:

"The findings of our survey are disturbing on a national level but even more so for those in the East of England. People in this area are less aware of their debts and more stretched in paying them off than elsewhere in the country.

"People need to monitor their levels of debt so they can manage it effectively, having such a carefree attitude towards their borrowing is leaving them open to financial fraud and overindebtedness."

In comparison to the East of England, where 36 per cent of people say they are at their limit or stretched, only 20 per cent of people in London, the Midlands and Southern England feel they are at their borrowing limit and just 11 per cent of people in Wales and the South West.

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.

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