Catalogue debt problems rising, says Money Advice Trust
Unaffordable debt from mail order catalogues is prompting more calls for help to a charity than payday loans, mortgages or rent.
The Money Advice Trust said that this form of debt was often "unmentioned", but remained a key concern.
National Debtline, which is run by the charity, received a record 25,235 calls about catalogue debt last year, up 10% compared with a year earlier.
That was nearly double the number received in 2007.
The charity has had a further 7,095 calls so far this year.
Families on tight budgets have been turning to catalogues to take advantage of keen prices and offers to buy now and pay later with no interest. However, some find they are unable to settle the bill.
"Catalogue debts go largely unmentioned in public these days, but advisers at National Debtline hear from nearly 100 people every day struggling to repay such debts," said Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust.
The Trust said many people did not realise they were signing a consumer credit agreement, which meant the debt was enforceable in the courts.
Missing a payment on a catalogue debt would usually invalidate any special 0% interest deal, it added.
Catalogue debt accounted for 12% of all calls to the charity last year. This was the fifth biggest area of concern, behind bank loans and overdrafts, credit or store cards, council tax arrears and energy debts.