People need to think carefully about their borrowing habits and understand that credit cards will not always help a situation, an expert has said.
Lucia Webster, head of membership services at the Association of British Credit Unions, has said people should be sure they only borrow at a level they can afford and that there is "no such thing as free credit".
She said: "Often people who have looked in to their finances can see that credit is not what they need, but rather advice on how to manage their income more effectively."
However, for many Britons her advice comes too late and they are already over-indebted. The government urges people in debt not to simply ignore the problem.
It recommends debtors consider ways of managing their debt such as consolidating or making arrangements with creditors.
However, some consolidation loans can be secured on the debtor’s home and can cost a lot, while an informal agreement with creditors is not binding.
Individual voluntary arrangements, known as IVAs, are binding and people can become debt free after a specified period of time.