To elevate debt advice services in the EU, it is important to understand the current state of debt advice in European countries. It is necessary to create a base level of knowledge before it is possible to create and carry out initiatives to improve debt advice services on an EU level.
In Bulgaria, there are no current official debt advice services. While some NGOs and credit consultants offer debt advice, they are not officially structured and do not have any professional standards and guidelines. According to Professor Bistra Vassileva, one of the issues in Bulgaria is the lack of initiatives and political support. Due to the lack of a working government and the continuous elections, due to the inability to form a government, it is difficult to push over-indebtedness onto the political agenda, and thus, gain governmental and political support. However, the Bulgarian media climate shows support to initiatives that help fight over-indebtedness.
Another issue in Bulgaria, according to Prof. Vassileva is the fact that there is a lack of a debt registry, meaning that corporations do not and cannot check the financial status of the consumer prior to lending. In turn, this leads to over-indebtedness, as there are no regulations regarding debt. Furthermore, debts are often sold to collectors, who resort to threats and violence to collect the payments.
According to Prof. Vassileva, it is relevant to introduce best practices in terms of debt advice services. There is a lack of guidelines in terms of training debt advisors from scratch, also including the development of a specific academic career path and relevant professional competencies. More importantly, there is a need to establish and launch organizations that will thrive at an international level.