Debt prevention


Debts lead to personal problems and social costs. Prevention is therefore important for all parties who come into contact with payment arrears.

What is debt prevention?

Prevention is preventing problems (in this case financial) from arising in advance. Prevention can also be used to prevent greater financial problems or repetition.

The definition of debt prevention is:

“Debt prevention is a mix of measures, activities and facilities that aim to ensure that people become financially skilled and behave in such a way that they keep their finances in order.”

All kinds of parties who come into contact with payment arrears of persons can contribute to prevention. Think of: debt counselors, schools, P & O, corporations, utilities, financial service providers, district teams, etc. Because more and more Dutch people are in trouble due to debts, politicians believe that organizations such as municipalities should do more to prevent them.

Classic prevention classification

In the theory on prevention, a classification is made in types.

Primary prevention

Aim: to prevent people from falling into problematic debts; or avoid new cases. Primary prevention targets everyone at risk.

Secondary prevention

Early identification, detection and treatment, usually in specific risk groups. The detection of risk factors is also part of secondary prevention. A prerequisite is a good investigation into specific risk groups and analysis of these.

Tertiary prevention

Focuses on situations where there are already problematic debts. The curative help, guidance and other measures are intended to solve existing problems while the preventive activities are in fact aftercare. This is also where the cyclical nature of integrated debt counseling comes to the fore. Good curative help and aftercare have a preventive effect as such. Tertiary prevention is meant to prevent worse (relapse, recidivism or chronic problems).

Getting started with prevention

How you design your prevention policy depends on your role and organization. Nibud gives you a number of tools to get started:

  • Vision and policy
  • Early signaling
  • Take on problems


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