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Many debtors convince themselves that if they pay back the minimum amount then they are not in debt, when actually they are just putting off the "evil day", an expert has warned.

Anne Bowen, manager of Dorchester and district Citizens Advice Bureau, made her comments to the Dorset Daily Echo, reporting an increase in the number of debt queries and bankruptcies brought to her attention.

She said the situation could even be worse than last year.

Many borrowers built up their debt throughout the year and Christmas is the "final straw" that drives them into insolvency, Ms Bowen suggested.

Furthermore, some people have ignored their problems in the hopes they will go away, she continued.

"People also panic when they get into debt and they don’t tell anyone else in the family. Most situations are retrievable – for even the largest sums there are options," Ms Bowen concluded.

One option for those facing serious debt is an individual voluntary arrangement, usually called an IVA.

Such agreements are made through a court and ensure the debtor only makes payments they can afford.

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