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NGO: Rising numbers saddled with €100+k in unsecured debt

A record 43,000-plus people sought free debt counselling in 2018, the highest in its 30-year history, the Guarantee Foundation said on Wednesday.

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The full scope of Finnish household's debt problem remains hidden, says the Guarantee Foundation, an NGO that provides counselling and other forms of assistance to individuals struggling with debt.

The organisation noted that its customer numbers have grown and that people are deeper in debt than before. On top of that, many are resorting to artful measures to ride out the tide of debt longer than ever.

On Wednesday the NGO said in a release that last year it was contacted by a record 43,000-plus people seeking free debt counselling, the highest in its 30-year history.

The foundation found that on average, its customers had 5,000 euros more debt last year than customers in 2017. The average debt burden of people seeking help last year was nearly 34,000 euros, compared to 29,000 the previous year.

At the same time, it said that the number of people seeking advice for unsecured debt in excess of 100,000 euros had increased by 50 percent during 2018 compared to 2017.

Figures don’t tell the full story

The foundation said in its statement that payment default statistics and other debt data about don’t always give the full picture about debt in Finland. It noted that people who are over-indebted may still have clean credit scores will therefore not show up in these statistics. According to the NGO, this group continues to grow.

Foundation chief executive Juha Pantzar said that it is important to cut the debt cycle earlier than ever. He added that its counsellors have noted the easy availability of unsecured credit that people are using to consolidate other loans, thereby avoiding payment defaults.

“However this trend is leading to even more stubborn debt problems such as managing debt by way of distraint procedures. What we need now is immediate and faster reaction times and new ways of restructuring debt as well as financial services to reach people before the burden becomes too great,” Pantzar declared.

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