In the majority of countries, including here in the UK, being in debt is not a crime. There may be a crime committed during the course of getting into debt such as fraud, taking out loans in someone else’s name, which is also a form of fraud, and other acts which are a crime. But being in debt itself is not a crime.

There are no more debtor’s prisons… in the UK…at least the last time I checked.

Being In Debt = Stress!

Being in debt, owing money, struggling to make the repayments, receiving collection notices, emails and phone calls, all bring about stress. And stress is one of those things that is very hard on our bodies.

It is also difficult to think straight if under stress.

There are many ways someone may find themselves deep in debt and struggling to pay the credit cards and loans:

It is getting out of debt that is the goal, and for many it may require the use of the courts and a form of insolvency, such as Bankruptcy, an IVA, or a Debt Relief Order/DRO.

However, when you are under stress and not thinking clearly, other ideas may pop into your head.

Using Criminal Activities To Pay Debts

I read in my local paper the other day about a few different people charged with crimes, different crimes, different cases, but they all said in court they turned to crime to pay off debts.

One person had built up a large debt to a drug dealer, in addition to using credit cards for cash advances all due to their drug addiction. They started selling drugs to make more money to pay the debts. They had addressed and kicked their drug addiction, but the debts remained.

I spoke with one person a few years back and they told me they were driving stolen vehicles up North for a crime gang who stole the vehicles. For driving the vehicle to its new destination, they got paid anywhere from £200 upwards. But the risk they were taking. If they were caught, it may mean a criminal record or worse jail.

Stealing is a big criminal act people use to get extra money to pay off debts.

Some people steal or embezzle from their employer, or someone else that has trusted them with their money or access to that money.

Shoplifting and selling the stolen items is another criminal act debtors may use. Before the pandemic and lockdowns, there was one pub in particular in my city that it was known shoplifters go there to sell the stolen items. People would go there anytime of day or evening to see what was being sold. I was pretty shocked when I was told this.

There are other crimes people can commit to earn money to pay off debts. But in the end here in the UK we have so many debt management and insolvency options, is being a criminal and committing a crime really worth it.

Being in debt is not a crime, but committing a crime is.

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