The number of people under 30 with overdue debts has climbed by 34 percent since last year. Youth – and particularly young men – are particularly at risk of running into such payment trouble. Among those over 30, the number rose by 15 percent.
In the first four months of this year, 32,400 new payment default entries were recorded among people under 30. Some individuals may have hundreds of such entries in the system at a time, with an average of around 11 per person, according to the leading credit data company Suomen Asiakastieto.
Trouble in North Karelia
There are also significant regional variations in the incidence of payment difficulties. In North Karelia, for instance, such problems shot up by 74 percent. In southern and central Ostrobothnia and Kanta-Häme, the number was up by more than half, while in Uusimaa, which includes the Helsinki region, it increased by 46 percent. However in Kainuu – which neighbours on North Karelia – the figure declined by three percent.
Young people’s debt problems are most often linked to various kinds of credit as well as phone bills, online purchases and unpaid rent. A recent study indicates that youngsters and students are more likely to make impulse purchases on the web.
Buy it now!
Juha Pantzar is Executive Director of the Guarantee Foundation, a social organisation that helps over-indebted people. As he sees it, a major cultural shift has occurred along with the proliferation of easy credit.
“In the past, people used to save up to buy something. Nowadays they buy it on the spur of the moment, on credit,” observes Pantzar. “I think there should be more restrictions on marketing of credit.”
Suomen Asiakastieto’s CEO, Jukka Ruuska, says the speed at which payment problems are multiplying is frightening.
As one solution to the problem, Ruuska says Finland should set up a positive credit registry. Lenders would be required to register all loans or credit they extend to customers, and to check how many have already been extended to an individual before granting more. Such registries have been adopted by 23 of the EU member states. The only ones without one are Finland, France, Malta and Luxemburg.
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