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Are you afraid to open your post?

Are you afraid to open your post?

Category: Money

Updated: 03/05/2017
First Published: 05/03/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Do you always open your post? Chances are, some of it gets discarded, and it's a widespread phenomenon: research from Debt Advisory Centre (DAC) has found that 46% of respondents regularly receive letters that they don't open, and it isn't all of the junk variety.

The fear

Even though junk mail tops the list of post that isn't opened – 80% of non-openers ignore this kind of letter – in many cases, other, more important communications are going unread. In fact, the survey found that 14% of non-openers don't open their bank statements, 9% don't open their credit card bills, 7% don't open utility or phone bills, and 21% don't open TV or broadband bills. A further 7% even refrain from opening 'official' mail, such as letters from the council or Department for Work and Pensions.

For many non-openers, the fear of the bills that a letter could contain is the key reason they stop opening their post, with 15% admitting that they don't open mail because they fear that the letters will contain bad news, while a further 16% say that they don't want to know how much they owe. This could be a difficult cycle to break free from, particularly if you're struggling to make ends meet, and it could be a sign that debt is getting out of control.

Ian Williams, spokesman for DAC, says: "If you visit the home of somebody with a debt problem, it is very common to see piles of un-opened post. Once people start to struggle to repay what they owe, it isn't just regular statements that come through the letterbox but letters demanding repayment from their lenders, from debt collection agencies and even court papers. Many find it easiest to disengage with the information that they are receiving and try to pretend that everything is fine.

"The truth, of course, is that ignoring a debt problem won't make it go away – and it is likely to get worse as interest and charges continue to mount up. The only real solution is to tackle the problem head on – either by speaking to your lenders directly, or by working with a debt advice charity or an advice provider."

Don't be afraid - get in control

The key to overcoming your fears is facing them, so don't ignore that pile of post for fear of what it may contain – instead, face it head on, and start ripping into those letters. Once you know exactly where your finances stand you can start to get back in control, and you'll have a better idea of what to do next.

Struggling to repay your credit card? Consider switching the balance to a 0% balance transfer card so you don't need to worry about interest adding to your worries. If you don't like seeing your bank balance dwindle, rather than ignoring your bank statements, go through it with a fine-tooth comb to see if there's any expenditure you can cut back on.

Consider switching energy tariffs or finding a better broadband deal if your bills are more than you'd like, or if it's too late for all that, speak to the companies in question. They could well arrange alternative repayment plans that could help clear the backlog, so don't stick your head in the sand – face things directly, and hopefully you won't be afraid to open your post for much longer.

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