Consumer debt in the UK is a major problem, both at a social and individual level. There is not that we can do about the social problem, but individuals can take action to prevent and overcome their own debt problems. While UK citizens may be unfortunate to live in a society where debt is commonplace, they are also fortunate in the way consumer credit and debt counselling services have evolved to meet the problem head on.

Those individuals who start to find their personal debts overwhelming and causing great worry may decide they should seek help through credit counselling. Often, though, they would have benefited from the advice of a counsellor much early. There is still a stigma attached to debt, insolvency and bankruptcy in the UK, and bankruptcy laws are very harsh compared to some states in the US. This may be a contributory factor in discouraging people from taking action and sharing their plight with others.

Such reluctance is a shame, but even so, thousands of people seek debt or credit counselling in one form or another every month in the UK. Fortunately, once they have made the decision to seek advice, they have a good choice of advice sources. Importantly, there are several free debt advisory services, so there really is no need to be tempted by any solicitation from debt advisors who are going to charge.

Here are four free debt counselling services in the UK you can consider:

1. Citizen's Advice Bureau

The Citizen's Advice Bureau [] (CAB) deals with many types of consumer advice, but debt counselling has become a prominent area for them over the last two decades, as the British have slipped into habitual debt problems.

The CAB provides a thorough and free service through its specially trained consumer debt counsellors, who will deal with your creditors on your behalf once you provide all the necessary details of your debts. I have known three people who have used CAB's debt counselling and were very happy with it.

2. National Debtline

The National Debtline is a telephone based service which has existed, as a charity, since 1991. This is another free service that has evolved to meet the strong demand for debt advice. Some people may prefer the telephone and post to face to face meetings with the consumer credit counsellor, and this service is very popular.

3. Consumer Credit Counselling Service

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) is also a registered charity. Their purpose is to assist people who are in financial difficulty by providing free, independent, impartial and realistic advice; exactly what somebody with debt problems needs. The umbrella charity is called the Foundation for Credit Counselling.

4. Insolvency Helpline

A different type of organisation is the Insolvency Helpline, which offers debt advice to both consumers and companies. It is the largest professional network of lawyers and accountants, specialising in money advice, in the UK. The Insolvency Helpline promotes the provision of independent money advice from the UK's regulated professional bodies, which means the debt or insolvency counsellors are not only well qualified, but have to follow their professional body's guidelines.

From the above four bodies, you are sure to find one that will provide valued assistance with coming to terms with and dealing with your debt problems. There is absolutely no need to succumb to the advertising of those who may try to prey on your hardship, and seek upfront payments for their advice.