How Different Countries Handle Debt
Unique Differences in How Overburdened Debt is Handled
My cousin from Finland came to visit last weekend and I was absolutely amazed that she doesn’t have a credit card. Turns out, she represents the normal Finnish citizen. Because most things are paid for by the government, there is much less need to use credit cards. Debt is not a problem in Finland, and I found it interesting as to how the Finnish handle their debt. It made me think about how other countries handle their debt. Here are a few unique examples I was able to find.
In Scotland, they use Scottish Trust Deeds to help overburdened citizens pay off their debts. These programs last 3-4 years, are sanctioned by the government, and allow people that are buried in debt to make whatever payment they can afford (after paying secured debt payments first). Once the trust deed expires, they are free of unsecured debt. This is quite a unique program.
Australia uses similar debt counseling services to those of the US. However, they have a unique process called a hardship variation. In these cases, consumers can call their creditors directly and speak to a “hardship officer’ and tell them your case. By law, the creditor has 21 days to respond to your request, and the law states that they must help you if it is determined that you are having problems paying your loans. This process sounds subjective to me, but it is another example of how other countries deal with their debt.
Credit cards are relatively new to China and are mostly used by the younger generations. Because they are new, the government is struggling with how to handle the debt problems. Many disputes over the defaults end up in courts. The kicker is that the Chinese legal system is so corrupt that it is hard to enforce legal judgments. When that happens, they use collection agencies that don’t seem to be regulated. In some cases, collectors are knocking on the debtors doors almost every day.
Canada debt counseling is overseen by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Their rules are similar to the US with perhaps a little more government oversight.
South Africa uses a National Credit Regulator to help people with excess debt. If it is deemed that a person can no longer afford to meet their monthly debt obligations, a debt counsellor from the government will negotiate on that person’s behalf, with a likely outcome of reducing that person’s monthly payments.