Hi all, I thought I would share my story.
I have been a compulsive gambler for 12 years. Since turning 18 and legally being able to bet I have been betting on almost every sport imaginable. I would use large stakes to try and get some quick wins and often lose my whole months wages within 1 to 2 days of being paid.
I had no control over what I was doing and I just knew that every month without fail I was going to bet and I was probably going to lose it within a day or two but I would still find myself continuing to bet regardless.
I racked up almost £27K in debt as a result of the compulsion to gamble and taking out credit and the failure to repay this really affected my credit score.
I would find myself having to come up with excuses to my girlfriend why I had no money, such as I lost my debit card, I had fraud on my bank account and won't get the money back until it’s been investigated etc.
I was so depressed, I knew what I was doing was wrong but just couldn't see a way out.
Things started to get really bad when I found myself effectively fraudulently advertising products on Gumtree and asking for money upfront for products I didn't have to try and gamble the money for a quick win and then repay the buyer and tell them I couldn't post the item. This was not me at all, outside of gambling I would never ever consider doing anything like this. One of the buyers who I was unable to pay back looked me up online and messaged my girlfriend and family to tell them what had happened and that is when things got real.
As a result of this I decided enough is enough, I didn't want to lose my girlfriend and I didn't want to cause unnecessary stress to my family so I decided it was time to try and quit for good.
I ended up confronting my girlfriend and family and telling them the problems I was facing and that I am committed to quitting. I told my boss about my addiction who was very understanding and got an advance on my salary to repay everyone back from Gumtree immediately.
I signed up to GamStop to self-exclude myself from all online gambling sites so it wasn't possible to bet online again and then I organised all of my finances, what I owed to who and started to negotiate settlement figures with each of them and an action plan of when I could pay each one back.
Fast forward to today and I have now not placed a bet since 1st January this year and have actually lost an interest in betting and have not really had any desires to place a bet, even when things like the Grand National were on. I managed to negotiate excellent offers on most of the debt I owed, so of the £27K in debt I owed I agreed settlement figures amounting to just £15K (£12K discount!!) and after I get paid on 31st May I will have just £5.1K of debt left to pay.
My credit score has also increased significantly in just 5 months, it was absolute dire and has gone from very poor to poor, but is almost at the OK stage with Experian!
None of this would have been possible without using GamStop. Now if I want to place a bet I have to go to a shop, but my mindset has changed and I simply have no desire to go out and find a shop. I’d rather sort my finances and save my money towards a better future for myself and start a family. I encourage anyone that is struggling to simply use GamStop to put an immediate stop to all online gambling and work on repaying back any debts and rebuilding your credit scores. It is the best decision I ever made and has really changed my life for the better.
Thanks for the open post. Just reading it has helped me personally. I’m in a similar situation and need to stop for good. I took your advice and signed up to GamStop for 5 years. I previously didn’t know something like this existed. I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how did you negotiate saving £12k from lenders?
I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how did you negotiate saving £12k from lenders?
Don't want to speak for Jamie, but normally you may need some kind of Debt Management plan (however they normally last for in the region of 5 years).
is a really good start (they are charity)
Hey, most of my debts were pretty old and I have been flat out ignoring them for years and it seems like if they know you are stubborn and haven't made any effort to make any repayments in a few years then they will be prepared to give really good discounts. If the debt is newer or you have been making repayments then this may be difficult.
I called them all up one at a time and basically offered them like 40% of the total debt to get it settled and some of them flat out agreed and others came back with counter offers. If the counter offer was more than 50-60% then I would normally just refuse that and make out I wasn't going to budge and that it would remain unpaid unless they accepted my offer and just left the ball in their court. I would then follow up a week or so later and eventually after lots of back and forth they would more often than not agree to a large discount.
Debt management programs can make your credit score worse because once you have defaulted it is bad and your credit score doesn't improve until that account is then settled (regardless of if you are making payments towards them) so using the debt management program you end up spending years to repay small amounts to each of your accounts and this means they all remain unsettled defaults for years whereas if you paid off one at a time you are making better progress and usually can negotiate decent discounts on settling them.
Also if you haven't defaulted on your debts they will remain on your credit file for 6 years from when they are settled so say you spend 3 years repaying the debt it will then be on your credit file 6 years after that, so it will be on there for 9 more years, whereas if you agreed a settlement it would get settled which improves your credit score immediately and then it would stay on your credit file for 6 years. If you defaulted then they just stay on 6 years from the date you defaulted, regardless of if you are making payments towards it or not.
Hope that helps. I learnt a lot about credit and what impacts credit scores etc. from all of this.