SEVEN out of 10 people lack the confidence to approach their bank or credit card company about rescheduling their debts, a new survey shows.
This lack of nerve to approach creditors is despite the fact that Irish people are the most indebted in Europe.
The survey, carried out by debt advisory company Moneyvillage, also reveals that three out of 10 consumers are finding it difficult to meet their debt repayments.
Most people have fewer than three creditors they owe money to, the telephone survey of 250 householders from around the country found.
And the majority of people owe less than €10,000, once mortgage debt is excluded, the research seen by the Irish Independent shows.
The support offered by banks and other lenders and the Government to people in debt is described as very poor by most people.
Some 27pc of people reported having difficulty meeting their debts. They called for banks to freeze interest and charges on loans as a way of helping those who are cash strapped.
Chief executive of Moneyvillage Eugene McDarby said the research showed that most people were not confident about approaching creditors in an attempt to deal with their outstanding debts.
Mr McDarby said consumers in this country owed €29bn in unsecured debt such as credit card bills and credit union loans.
"People in their 20s and 30s, married or cohabiting with children, represent the most financially vulnerable cohort," he said.
"Trends indicate escalating household financial fragility with many experiencing a dramatic and sudden decline in incomes, which is increasing debt repayment burdens."
Mr McDarby said there was a need to regulate the market for debt management services.
In the UK the Office of Fair Trading has published a code of conduct for debt advisers to follow.
He said the state-supported Money Advice and Budgeting Service was stretched with an active caseload of 30,000 consumers.