I’m a member of the UK’s telephone preference service, which means I very rarely get cold sales calls over the phone. However, I’ve noticed a concerning tendency recently. A company phoned me, saying my number had been “specially selected for a new government sponsored program of IVAs.” In fact, they weren’t the first company to ring me and try and get me to take out what is essentially a last step before bankruptcy. Unless these companies know something about the state of my finances that I don’t know, then I’m sure I have not been specially selected at all. It is, of course, the classic tactic of the salesman. Somehow, though, it seems to me to be somewhat sickening that the consumer boom is now leading finally in its dying breaths to companies breathlessly trying to persuade people of the benefits of seeking a legal remedy for their mushrooming debts.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m far from being against IVAs and bankruptcy where it is needed. In fact, the concept of being forgiven debts that you simply cannot pay is a very biblical one. In today’s climate we could do well to preach about how we are all spiritually in debt to God, and yet in a glorious echo of the Old Testament Jubilee, God has wiped our debts away, thanks to the payment of his son, Jesus. Some Christians feel, wrongly, that financial bankruptcy is not appropriate for them as children of the King. I agree that all possible attempts at a responsible approach to repaying debts should be tried first. But there are undoubtedly times when a bankruptcy is inevitable. Indeed, it is very possible for you to be declared bankrupt without your consent, and to initiate such proceedings in those circumstances is nothing less than being honest. To continue to effectively lie to creditors by pretending you can pay them when you blatantly cannot is not a Christian virtue. Certainly many banks have played a significant role in enticing unwary people into debt they should never have taken on in the first place. The wickedness of the banks in these situations, with their dodgy credit card deals and mortgages, which in the UK used to stretch to 125 per cent of the value of a home, is surely causing all of us a headache at the moment.
As such, when a bank is clearly preying on a customer and is charging them extortionate rates of interest, which then causes them to slip further and further behind, it is a godly thing to initiate proceedings to break such financial slavery.
But no one in their right minds takes such a step without considering every other possibility first. So to sell such arrangements over the phone in a hard-sell call that speaks of a “government sponsored program” is just wicked, and I hate to think of the effect such a call has on someone who is struggling with their finances.