The Credit Services Association (CSA) the trade body representing the debt collection industry has launched #heretohelp, a campaign designed to encourage customers to actively engage with its members at the earliest opportunity.

Poor and misleading advice on the internet, that can often make matters worse and not better for the customer. With the support of its members and many in the sector, the campaign includes a video fronted by Brad Burton, one of the UK’s top motivational speakers, who was once £25,000 in debt.

Burton interviews others like him who have had similar experiences, and whose lives are now back on track. He also speaks to industry experts to explain more about how debt collection works, and how it can help individuals on their journey to take control of their finances and ultimately become debt free.

It is estimated that there are currently more than eight million people in debt in the UK, and debt is one of the top ten topics ‘off limits’ for individuals to discuss with friends and family.

Peter Wallwork, CEO of the CSA said “This important new initiative shows our industry and our members at the heart of helping customers who are in financial difficulty, We want to remove the understandable fear and uncertainty that many customers face. We want to build confidence in debt collection so that whatever their circumstances, people will know that they will be treated with fairness, understanding and compassion. We want everyone to get behind this serious drive to remove the stigma of debt once and for all.”

Among those lending their support to the campaign is Yvonne MacDermid OBE, CEO of Money Advice Scotland: “This is a really outward looking initiative by the CSA, to help get the engagement of people in debt, and open up a dialogue with the debt collectors and purchasers. This will surely benefit all concerned.”

Philip King, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM), said that the CSA was to be congratulated on what he described as a bold initiative: “The campaign highlights the importance of talking to real people with the experience and expertise to improve customer outcomes, rather than trusting spurious and often poorly-informed advice being offered on the internet via consumer forums.”

The video was premiered during the CSA’s UK Credit and Collections Conference in September, and forms part of an extensive communications campaign headed up by the CSA. As part of the campaign, the CSA is approaching Government, the free debt advice sector, consumer campaign groups, think tanks, politicians and different factions of the financial services industry to gain further support.

Wallwork concluded “Educating and reassuring consumers that businesses are #heretohelp on the road to becoming debt free, and that they can trust CSA member companies and other money advice organisations, needs a clearer, joined-up voice. This is what we are striving to do.”

The video can be viewed here.