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Scots least aware about their levels of borrowing

06 April 2005

Scots are among the most comfortable borrowers in the UK even though nearly eight out of ten of them don't know how much they owe according to the latest research by credit reference agency Callcredit.

The research revealed only 22 per cent of Scots know exactly how much their debts amount to compared to 41 per cent nationwide. Despite this 85 per cent of them are comfortable with their levels of borrowing against a UK wide average of 80 per cent. And 22 per cent of Scots admit to not having a clue how much they owed - the second highest figure after Yorkshire folk.

However, the strain of burying their heads in the sand is apparent in the percentage of people who report they are stretched and worried about keeping up their payments. Scotland and Southern England jointly top the stretched table with 8 per cent of residents saying they are concerned about keeping up their payments.

Callcredit director Alison Nicholson warns: "Only two in ten people in Scotland know how much they owe compared to four in ten elsewhere in the UK. People need to monitor their levels of debt so they can manage it effectively, having such a carefree attitude towards borrowing is leaving them 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 ten.

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 know precisely how much they owe 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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