More people run up telecom debt

An increasing number of people in Belgium are incurring too much debt for their mobile phones, internet or television connections. Especially youngsters and people with a lower level of education are getting caught in the debt web.

At the moment there are some 60,000 cases being handled by debt brokers. According to the Flemish Centre for Debt Arbitration one third of the cases are due to telecom debt. Last year telecom debt accounted for about one fifth of all cases, but this year it has grown to a third (34 percent).

Especially youngsters and people with a lower level of education have trouble staying out of debt. According to the Centre the big telecommunications operators are partly at fault, because their advertising is often misleading. Some mobile phone subscriptions, for example, promise free sms and call time. What is not mentioned as clearly is that there are also extra subscription costs. Youngsters and uneducated people tend to be the ones who most often fall prey to this kind of advertising.

The Centre for Debt Arbitration is calling for written contracts so there is more time for reflection. The Centre wants the government to draft clear regulations. According to Minister of Enterprising Vincent Van Quickenborne (Flemish liberal), by the end of the year there will be extra regulations