So as with a lot of people on here, I got myself into a sticky situation during 2011 at the ripe old age of 23. I was young and in love, joined the forces and thought I could spend twice my wage every month. So this landed me in a place where I thought the only way out was Payday Loans. I thought "I'll take one then behave and pay it off next month", job done, right? Wrong. It was too easy. I ended up taking a second to cover the wage I had used to pay the last. And so the loop expanded. I was using payday loans to cover my previous car loan payments then found I was worse and worse off each month. The payments to the car loan stopped, and then the payday loans were being increased and extended each month as I desperately looked for light at the end of the tunnel.
In the second half of 2012, with court threats and "bailiff" letters through my door, 20+ phone calls a day and emails I couldn't keep up with, I knew I was up the brown creek without a paddle. I couldn't ask my family for help, because I was embarrassed. How could I go to them and tell them I was in so much trouble when they were so proud of my new job and maturity?! I thought I was doing the right thing when I entered a Debt Management Plan, because it was there to manage debt. I absolutely didn't look into the ramifications and ended up agreeing to pay £644 per month... half my wage. So I stopped that before it started and still had the same problem.
That's when I discovered the IVA option. It seemed as though the only option that would help me out of my situation. It terrified me. It was through the court, so that must mean I was about to be taken through the mill and never be able to have money or a house, car, holidays, nothing! But I spoke to Debt Free Direct who ironed everything out for me and I found that it was nowhere near as serious as I thought for my future. It would help sort my never-ending spiral of debt, without having to be declared bankrupt, which would have implications way into my future.
So Christmas 2012 I was a signature away from entering into an IVA and sign it I did. Between Christmas and New Year the IVA was in action. It gave me such a sense of dread that I was on a register for the world to see and my name had been put through a court, but it seemed as though I was doomed otherwise. I entered into it on a 5 year arrangement paying a bit each month of what I could afford, meaning I would end up paying 52p in the £ (or 52% of the total debt) with their fees on top and the rest would be cleared. This was perfect, and in all honesty I felt a bit cheeky that I wouldn't finish up paying the total debt that was my own fault in the first place!
The first year ticked away nicely, then coming up to the 12 year point I had a letter to say they needed payslips and bank statements for the past 12 months. I knew this would happen as it was in my terms of the IVA, but my gosh did I panic. They'll see that last month I spent £20 on McDonald's and went to the cinema twice... this would surely get me into trouble, because I wasn't allowed any money! I totally got the wrong end of the stick, and having spoken to the people at Debt Free Direct, realised I could still actually live, just live within my means! Anyway, the review came and due to a pay rise at work I was told I would be paying double what I was for the first year now, and they would add another year on to the end of my IVA so I could pay 100p in the £ (100% of the debt) with fees on top.... wow.... I had a massive surge of panic again, because I thought I couldn't afford any more than I was paying!
A couple more years passed and I was so worried the whole time that I was about to be told it had all gone wrong and I'd forgotten to include a creditor or something, when it would all fall apart (because I had lost track of all the payday loans I had taken originally really). But it carried on! There were a few more adjustments and a few small pay rises, to which they amended my monthly payments, etc. I had settled into it nicely and got used to how the IVA worked.
As time went on, I did a bit of digging and found out that Payday Loan companies were being fined and closed down left, right and centre due to mis-management of accounts and varies other bits and pieces. So I thought "I could be in for a windfall here" and contacted each and every one stating that I felt they shouldn't have given me the loan in the first place and it was thanks to them that I was in the situation I am. I didn't expect a lot, but some of the rude responses I got back gave me the motivation to forward them all to the Financial Ombudsman Service and see if I could get any results that way. I did! They agreed with half of my complaints ( 4 of 8 ) and ended up informing the loan companies to wipe about £3500 from my debt... that was a third of my overall debt!! With the calculations I had done, it got to the middle of year 5 and I forwarded what I had to my IVA Company to see what was what.
There was a lot of backwards and forwards at this point, and I had well and truly been misunderstood by the IVA Company. They didn't see what I saw. I saw that with the closures of accounts I would in fact be over-paying after Jan this year, although they said I would need to carry on for the full term, then when they reviewed at the end I would receive the refund I had overpaid. This didn't seem fair to me.
Over the next 6 months Debt Free Direct were in their own sticky situation, and my IVA was passed to Aperture. They didn't have great reviews on IVA.co.uk so I was panicking. Luckily, I received an email from a very, very helpful person at Aperture. They actually understood what I was trying to tell Debt Free Direct, and agreed that something needed doing. They initiated an urgent review..... I didn't expect the result... one more payment and I was done! Free! Finished!!! I can't explain the feeling, but to know I had battled for a good reason was overwhelming.
So here I am, having paid my final payment 12 months earlier than anticipated and expecting the closure process to commence. I wanted to share my story so maybe at least one person was able to give it a go and not feel the way I felt. I am sure you have read hundreds of posts on here, but this is my story. Good luck, keep reminding yourself of the light at the end of the tunnel, and this is the beginning of something good, not the terrible end it may seem like.
Good luck and thank you so so much to all the posters and experts on here, you have helped me more than you'll ever know.
I think the variation to add a further 12 months was made when I had a pay rise releasing more expendable income. Dfd would not review my case no matter how I tried to explain it. I know Aperture have been given bad press with response times during the handover period, but luckily they were brilliant for me. I do feel for those who can’t get an answer though. It took me a good 8 months trying to persuade someone to take a closer look at my file.
I just really hope they settle into it a bit better for the rest!
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